What I Love: She Loves Her Stuff. He Has Little and Cares Less.


She Loves Her Stuff. He Has Little and Cares Less.

The musician Ingrid Michaelson and the actor Will Chase have very different ideas about material possessions. And that works out just fine.

By Joanne Kaufman

The actor Will Chase and the singer and composer Ingrid Michaelson were introduced years ago at a red-carpet charity event.

“I don’t remember meeting him,” said Ms. Michaelson, 39, all cheery candor.

“I remember meeting her,” said Mr. Chase, 48, who plays an egotistic trouper/impresario (nothing like his own gallant self, of course) in the Broadway revival of “Kiss Me Kate,” now in previews, and who set hearts aflutter as the country-singing superstar Luke Wheeler on the series “Nashville.” His TV credits also include “Smash,” “Sharp Objects” and “Stranger Things.”

It’s safe to say that the story of their courtship wouldn’t spark a bidding war for the film rights.

“We went on a date,” said Ms. Michaelson, who has released eight studio albums and made her film-acting debut in the 2017 comedy “Humor Me.” “We liked each other, and that was that. He started out as a fan of my music, and I was a fan, too, because I loved ‘Nashville.’ We came to each other with mutual respect.”

She continued: “Not to be morose, but my mother passed away, I got a divorce and my life kind of fell apart. And then I began seeing Will, and right off the bat it was good.”

Living together has been similarly fine. “Wunderbar,” you might say, to quote one of Mr. Chase’s numbers from “Kiss Me Kate.”

The Christmas clock on the wall in the living room was a gift to Ms. Michaelson from Hallmark. “They knew I loved Christmas,” she said.CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

Soon after getting together in 2015, the couple moved into a three-floor spread in a rental building in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. And perhaps as a nod to Ms. Michaelson’s obsession with the Yuletide season — don’t get her going on her musical Christmas clock, a gift from Hallmark — they quickly planted a dozen evergreens on one of the apartment’s two terraces.

Ms. Michaelson’s brother, Charlie, and his wife and toddler daughter are right upstairs, in the building’s only other unit. “Ingrid and her brother are very tight, and we get to see them every day, which is a plus of being here,” Mr. Chase said. “And we’re the insta-babysitters.”

Keeping to the all-in-the-family theme, one of Mr. Chase’s daughters from his first marriage has lately been in residence as well, on a gap year before starting college.

Occupations: He’s an actor; she’s a pop composer and singer who did a stint on Broadway as a replacement in “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.

Getting away from it all: “I know a lot of theater people say this, but I like living tucked away from the theater district,” Mr. Chase said. “It’s very familial in Brooklyn. I like to be here and veg.”

Ms. Michaelson has taken the lead in outfitting the apartment. This is partly because she is hip, Mr. Chase said, and knows that a certain object “will look great in the place by the thing, which I just can’t visualize.”

And it is partly because she had many pieces to contribute, several from the Victorian house in Nyack, N.Y., that she owned with her former husband: bedside lamps, side tables, chests, a mirror and a dining table that she adored but worried might be too big for the space.

“We just measured it,” she said. “It’s 82 inches and I’m like, ‘Should we get a smaller table?’ But I do love it.”


“Will told me a story about being very young and being in a car accident with his mom,” Ms. Michaelson said, explaining why she bought Mr. Chase a Grimace sponge. “Nobody was hurt, but he was very scared and his mom took him to McDonald’s for a happy meal, and it came with a Grimace sponge, which was very comforting to him.”CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

But really, it comes down to this: Ms. Michaelson has her stuff, and she loves her stuff. Mr. Chase is not a material guy. He accumulates little and cares less, although he is very tender on the subject of the vinyl classical records he inherited from Ms. Michaelson’s father.

“I’m like, ‘Don’t you want to keep that chair or whatever from your family?’ And he’s like, ‘Not really.’ Will’s very easygoing. I admire that he doesn’t get sentimental about too many objects,” Ms. Michaelson said.

“I, on the other hand, hold on to things,” she added, pointing to the chest from her family’s Staten Island house that held her childhood arts and crafts supplies, and to two spindle-backed antique chairs, the sole survivors of a set that belonged to her grandmother.

When Ms. Michaelson does let something go, she tries very hard to avoid regret. This is not always possible. It was absolutely not possible in the case of the antique egg incubator she bought at the Brooklyn shop Sterling Place.

“It was my first big furniture purchase, and it cost $500,” she said. “I used it as a side table, but it was really too big for a side table and too small for anything else. So I ended up selling it.”

She added: “I still think about it.”

“Note to self: Christmas present,” her boyfriend said.

Whatever his indifference to how his space is filled, Mr. Chase would prefer that the space be big. Never mind that more often than not he and Ms. Michaelson can be found nestled on the very puffy sectional in a corner of the living room watching “Game of Thrones.”

He likes room to roam. He’s got it.

The living room — heavy on the wood and earth tones, and heavily dependent on Restoration Hardware and West Elm — is cozy and welcoming, but betrays nothing about the professional lives of the inhabitants. All is revealed in the studio/office where, surrounded by family photos and theater posters and caricatures, Mr. Chase memorizes his lines and Ms. Michaelson writes. (She is working on the score for a musical adaptation of “The Notebook.”)


Mr. Chase accumulates little, although he is very tender on the subject of the classical records he inherited from Ms. Michaelson’s father.CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

“It’s kind of our accomplishments in here, mixed with bizarre things,” she said.

Bizarre: the lion’s head she bought at a rest stop while on tour. Bizarre (but sweet): the Grimace sponge she bought for Mr. Chase on eBay.

The accomplishments include Mr. Chase’s Tony Award nomination certificate (for his performance in the 2012 revival of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”) and Ms. Michaelson’s two platinum singles (for 2007’s “The Way I Am” and 2014’s “Girls Chase Boys”).

“But it’s not ‘Look at us.’ It’s not, like, showcasing us,” Mr. Chase insisted. “And then we joke, ‘It’s not like we have that many awards.’”

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Published at Tue, 19 Feb 2019 15:16:16 +0000