Bread and Cameos — a yr with out revenue from Broadway stage | Leisure

NEW YORK (AP) – A year ago, Max Kumangai wowed the crowd with a jolt of live Broadway excitement. Now he does it with his bread.

The triple threat posed by the musical “Jagged Little Pill” has evolved into a fourth skill as the pandemic progresses: baking and selling your own sourdough.

From his Manhattan apartment, Kumangai delivers $ 15 loaves of bread or $ 8 slices of focaccia from his Humpday Dough Company on foot or by subway.

“I wanted to make connecting with people – at a time when it was difficult to connect – part of the business,” he says. “It feeds me figuratively and literally.”

With televisions and film sets slowly upgrading themselves a year after the COVID-19 hit, Broadway theaters are still closed and there is no end in sight. This means that people who make a living in live entertainment had to be creative.

Unemployed seamstresses sell handmade jewelry and plush toys on Etsy, dancers teach online, and actors do voice-over work, podcasts, or sell video shout-outs on cameo.

A stage manager started the Stagedoor Candle Company, a line of fragrance products inspired by Broadway musicals. There is an eBay marketplace that sells Broadway memorabilia for artists to pocket.

“This is a paycheck to paycheck profession. We are workers,” says Laura Benanti, a Tony winner. “It is really very upsetting to me that so many people are suffering who are unable to feed themselves. They have no savings.”

Employment of New York City workers in the arts, entertainment and recreation declined 66% during the pandemic, according to a new report from the New York State Comptroller.

The decline – from 87,000 jobs in February 2020 to 34,100 jobs just three months later – marks the largest drop in employment of any economic sector in the city. It has left Broadway workers behind, many of whom have lost health insurance and are living on side performances, stimulus checks, and unemployment benefits.

As of March 2020, the national human services group The Actors Fund has distributed more than $ 18 million in emergency relief to more than 15,000 people in the entertainment industry.

“I’ve had a lot of friends who just picked up, moved and moved to different states because we live in one of the most expensive states in the country,” says Jawan M. Jackson, a star of Ain’t Too Proud – Life and the times of temptation. “It was about releasing a single, making a movie, and doing commercials.

He wished the heads of government would do more. “We kind of feel like we’re just afterthought,” he said. “I just wish they had been a little better for us during the shutdown because of the difficult situation we are in. But hopefully that will change. We’ll see.”

Others are blunt: “These artists need to be protected. They need to be supported. This is an emergency right now,” said Tom Kitt, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. “This is the elixir of life in this city.”

Theater work, even without a pandemic, is usually a piecemeal existence. Shows seldom run for years and workers live nomadic lives jumping to new works every few years. Nowadays they are even more bit by bit as people who do live theater are clearly the last ones to get back to work.

“You pick up things where you can. I know a lot of people who did side appearances when they can. A lot of people went back to school,” said Derek Klena, a Tony nominee. “You’re doing what you can to get through.”

According to the auditor, the average actor salary in the city in 2019 was $ 65,756, with musicians and singers grossing $ 43,966. Despite the pandemic, New York City remains the second largest rental market in the United States. The median rent for a bedroom in March is $ 2,460.

Musician Andrew Griffin had landed a great gig as the violist for “Ain’t Too Proud” when the pandemic ended its regular gig. He has cobbled together some live concerts, composed for a dance group and carried out some consulting work.

He’s seen people sell their instruments and their cars. A woman near him even sold her eggs. “It was definitely very challenging and very stressful in many ways,” he says.

And yet he refuses to let himself be deterred from making art. He recently teamed up with violinist Danielle Giulini on a video that puts the final year into perspective as they play Handel-Halvorsen’s “Passacaglia”. He notes that what kept America together and safe during this lockdown year is art – Netflix, Spotify, and all of the streaming options. “That’s the glue,” he says. “So where is the help?”

Some of the leading men on Broadway – including Jeremy Jordan, Max von Essen, Corey Cott, and Adam Pascal – have turned to Cameo, which pays celebrities to create personalized videos for fans.

“I set out to pay those bills every month,” says Pascal, a Tony nominee for Rent who has made his own rent this year to teach master classes and concerts. “Pan in whatever way I can pan.”

Some of the leading ladies on Broadway – from Patti Murin, Cassie Levy, Kerry Butler, Lilli Cooper to Ashley Park – have practiced, sung, and answered questions virtually on Broadway Booker. A 30-minute veteran private coaching session can start at $ 75.

Tony Award winning Jefferson Mays has starred alongside Denzel Washington in Hollywood for Joel Coen’s “Macbeth,” but he has also recorded audiobooks in a “niche in our house” filled with pillows and sofa cushions.

Broadway dancer Jen Frankel lost her job but quickly became an employer: she co-founded the virtual dance platform PassDoor and suddenly hired unemployed Broadway veterans to teach all skill levels and ages.

“We thought, ‘Here’s an opportunity for not only us to help the Broadway community, but also to help everyone by giving them the opportunity to dance with people they would never have.”

The teachers – with extensive experience from musicals such as “Frozen”, “Tootsie”, “Kiss Me Kate” and “Anastasia” – receive a base price per class and a percentage of the gross if they reach a certain number of participants.

“We wanted to create a model in which we offer something that is accessible to different income groups and also to dancers who may not work for a long period of time,” said Frankel.

Bebe Neuwirth, a two-time Tony winner who also starred in “Cheers,” works with dancers on career transitions and is concerned about the pandemic’s loss of her art form.

“I know a lot of dancers say, ‘OK, I have to get a scholarship and go back to school and do something because I can’t make it work,'” she says. “Who knows what these dancers would have done if they had stayed?”

Neuwirth points to the devastation of dance and theater by another pandemic – AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s. “Has the theater suffered as a result? Has dance suffered as a result? Yes, it did,” she says. “We’ll never be able to quantify it, but we know so many really interesting artists have disappeared.”

Kumangai, the bread maker on Broadway, doesn’t want to give up its sideline when Broadway reboots. Baking is a passion and he hopes to keep it going with a schedule of eight shows a week. He credits making bread to give him back a sense of joy.

He is also impressed by the warm – virtual, of course – hug from colleagues on Broadway who buy up everything that his apartment stove produces.

“This community is still alive and bubbly, just like my sourdough starter,” he says with a laugh. “We are all there for one another.”