When you first think of the NYC needing to put Broadway shows on pause, the first victims that come to mind, at least for me, were the audience members. Those who paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars to enjoy a professional performance of some of their favorite musicals or in some cases, plays. A lot of shows gave full refunds to ticket holders or gave them the option to watch a performance from the comfort of their own home but of course, either way, is devastating for theatre fanatics. But, it’s important to take into consideration the men and women who dedicate months of their time rehearsing and perfecting their lines, songs, and stage directions to put food on the table. Thousands of actors and actresses are unemployed and struggling due to the closure of theatres across the globe. Unfortunately for these performers, it can be very difficult to find another job within their skillset. Even those who work behind the scenes in stage productions and costume designers are jobless and now looking for other ways to support themselves and their families during the global pandemic.
At the New Amsterdam theatre, when disaster struck the world, Josh Drake was starring in Broadway’s Aladdin left jobless and uneasy about what to do to support himself. Although he has been taking this time off to focus on his physical health to ensure he is the best version of himself possible when Broadway does return, the financial difficulties he has faced have also affected his emotional health. Especially living in a city like New York City, losing money can be terrifying and detrimental to someone’s livelihood. As the end of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance rounds the corner, many people like Drake are stuck scrambling to stay afloat financially and mentally. Amidst the dismay, Drake has been relying on creative outlets to bring some joy to his life and find new hobbies like photography and videography,
Not only does Broadway’s closure create a huge roadblock for starring actors and actresses in their career success and progress but also puts behind the scenes crew at a huge disadvantage as well. Thankfully, for people like costume makers and choreographers, they have some wiggle room when it comes to finding a job they meet the criteria for. For example, costumer maker, Amy Micallef who has designed and make costumes worn by the stars of Hamilton and Frozen, has turned to toy making as a quarantine money maker. Not only do the toys she made feel soft to the touch but can be used when her customers are feeling angry or worried. For Broadway choreographer Ali Solomon, her projects came to a halt in the height of her career forcing her to get a job as a skincare salesperson. She is still teaching in-person and online dance lessons and making some money to keep her stable but fortunately, she had savings to lean back on.
Throughout this pandemic, I believe that we have been able to see our workforce in a completely different light. Despite many being able to find new employment, go remote for their job or live off of the stimulus check sent out to unemployed people, you never really realize how particular careers are really put on pause. Working on or for Broadway is an amazing career path filled with so many opportunities that make it hard to imagine backfiring in the COVID era where your skillset may not line up with the job pool. It’s important to continue to do your part and stop the spread of COVID-19 in order to get places like Broadway back up and running and give these talented individuals not just their jobs back but their livelihood as well.