And We Will Come Back Home... One Year Since The Broadway Shutdown
A year ago today, Broadway closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many theatres around the world were already closed, or quickly followed suit.
I don’t think any of us expected it to be a full year.
Like many of you, I believed it would be two weeks, maybe a month, and that live theatre and ‘normality’ would resume.
Obviously, we had no idea what was coming.
My life, like so many others, revolves around theatre:
As a performer, it’s my calling, and a job.
As a blogger, it’s something I enjoy doing even in my spare time.
As a fan, inside a theatre is where I want to be.
And because of all of this, it’s something even bigger: it’s community.
A full community of people who lost a large piece of their lives and livelihoods.
Of course, it was the right thing to do. It still is!
Keeping people safe in any way we can is the most important thing we can do right now.
But that doesn’t take away the sadness felt at what was lost.
I’m not here to talk about why things shut down, or reopening, or even the pandemic.
I wanted to share how this has affected me, as I know it has affected many of you.
Maybe sharing what this specific loss has felt like this year can help release the sadness and replace it with hope.
So, let’s dive into this from both sides.
I find it so hard to explain what I do as a performer and creative to other people.
It isn’t always a clear path into booking job after job.
For most of us, and for me, it’s a lot of training and auditioning.
It’s still a lot of hard work before the ‘job’ is even booked!
But it’s something I love.
I was really beginning to hit my stride after some time off in 2019.
I was going in for projects I was excited about, working with a coach who helped me share the best parts of my talent, and just feeling really confident.
Then everything paused.
And here’s the part that’s hard to explain:
When you’re working towards performing onstage, one of the largest comforts and motivators is knowing that the theatre community exists, thrives, and of course, that there’s a stage to be on.
It’s all part of what fuels the dream.
But as Alanis Morissette once wrote:
“You live, you learn.”
And we definitely learned a heck of a lot about what theatre is and what it can be over this last year.
Online auditions, shows, self-tapes, Zoom calls, cabarets put together with no one in the same room…
Each one of these things had learning curves for me, but each one made me better and made me thrilled and honoured to be part of this resilient community.
As a theatre fan, it was a similar feeling.
Now, I had decided 2020 was going to be a huge year when it came to theatre.
I was going back to New York for a week to soak up the city and of course, all the stagey goodness I could, as well as my usual trips to see the Mirvish shows and other theatre in Southern Ontario.
The year had barely started when I had over a dozen shows booked that I knew I was so lucky to be able to see.
Cancelling these trips wasn’t easy, emotionally.
Luckily, the amazing customer service representatives across every theatre ticket point of sale were patient, kind, and I was lucky enough to get those funds returned to me.
I was bummed.
But, I was content to kick back with my collection of movie musical DVDs and wait it out.
… But there really was no waiting for theatre.
Live theatre wasn’t happening, we knew that.
But almost out of nowhere all these digital events started popping up.
From concerts, to proshots of previously performed shows, Zoom readings, TikTok musicals and so much more.
Not only are we seeing our theatre favourites and colleagues grace our screen, but so many up-and-coming productions have had a chance to debut and thrive in the digital world!
And in a wonderful way, theatre has become more accessible not only for creators, but for audience members all over the world!
Of course, we can all agree that nothing can truly replace live theatre 100%.
It’s a much larger feeling that is tangible over the internet.
It’s full of the energy of other people, connection, and facing the human condition headfirst.
I still miss every single part of it.
But how wonderful has it been to see creatives and performers around the world collaborating, communicating, and celebrating this art form we all love?
I mentioned hope earlier, because really, that is what I want to lead with.
Something that has kept me positive throughout this is knowing that theatre has always been a constantly evolving art form.
It’s been around since Ancient Greece, and I’m sure they never imagined it to be where it is now. It isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Theatre captures the human experience, which is why it is a lasting art form.
It brings people together and helps them feel as though they aren’t entirely alone.
In theatre, two strangers can sit side by side and be touched by a performance.
It doesn’t matter who they are or where they came from, they shared something beautiful together.
I think that’s why theatre has thrived over Zoom and why we are so eager for it to return to in person events.
We are craving human connection, we’ve all been so limited in the past year.
I can’t wait to sit beside a stranger and share those moments with them.
To see a show with a friend or family member.
To laugh and smile and cheer without worry.
In so many ways, this return will be triumphant.
All we have to do is get there.
Love each other, follow safety protocol, and let’s keep pushing through this.
And, if you are able, donate to your local or community theatres which are struggling during this time.
I’ll see you all in person when the curtain rises again.
‘And We Will Come Back Home’ - The Greatest Showman