Terrence Mann met his future wife, Charlotte d’Amboise, in 1983, when both appeared in “Cats” on Broadway. Showmance is the preferred term on the Great White Way to describe such pairings.
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“It was lust at first sight,” said the waggish Mr. Mann, 64, who plays the nefarious man in the yellow suit in the musical adaptation of the children’s book “Tuck Everlasting.” It opens on Broadway April 26.
Also in the cast of “Cats” was Lily-Lee Wong, a dancer and actress who subsequently ditched show business for the real estate business — she’s now an associate broker at Halstead Property. Mr. Mann and Ms. d’Amboise, who married in 1996, stayed in touch with their former colleague, sometimes getting together at Ms. Wong’s brownstone in Harlem.
Ms. d’Amboise had long spoken of her own desire to live in Harlem, partly to give their daughters, Josephine, now 13, and Shelby, now 12, the great sense of community she’d felt growing up on the Upper West Side.
“I like neighborhoods,” said Ms. d’Amboise, 51, whose Broadway credits include “Sweet Charity,” “A Chorus Line” and “Chicago,” and who — talk about typecasting — played Mr. Mann’s wife in the 2013 revival of “Pippin.” “I think back to when nobody could afford air-conditioning, so everybody would be outside, and you’d see families together. That’s what I wanted for my kids.”
Finally, in 2002, with Ms. Wong leading the charge, the couple began looking at apartments in prewar buildings on and above West 112th Street. Then, disheartened by the meager square footage, they expanded the quest to include brownstones. But, as Mr. Mann said, “They were in such disrepair, you’d have to take them down to the studs and put in $200,000 to $300,000. I said, ‘Do you have anything that’s a little more ready to live in?’ ”
Hope springs eternal for house hunters. In time, they came upon a multiunit five-story brownstone for sale. Built in 1902, it had lots of original details. It had also been renovated recently and had new mechanicals.
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“I loved everything about it, and I said, ‘We have to figure this out,’ ” Ms. d’Amboise recalled. “We crunched the numbers and figured out that it was really possible.”
The strategy: Keep the top two floors for themselves and rent out the rest of the house. “And,” Ms. d’Amboise continued, “I said, ‘We’re going for it!’ ”
To be entirely accurate, it was Ms. d’Amboise who went for it; Mr. Mann went along with it. And this would be because he’s a doting husband, one who sweetly intoned, “Whatever you want, dear”?
“Thank you for putting it that way. I’m going to go with that version,” Mr. Mann said gratefully.
“I didn’t see the house as alluring at all,” he confessed. “The only thing I saw was me becoming the super of the place, which is exactly what happened. I have a huge set of keys that I wear on my belt loop. We’ve had floods in the basement and leaks in the ceiling, and I’m not handy. I’m handy at making calls to get things fixed.”
But in the dozen years the family has been in residence, Mr. Mann has come around to his wife’s way of thinking. “It’s not fancy. It’s not beautiful,” he said. “It’s not appointed very elegantly. But it’s comfortable, and it’s a great hang.”