Plush toys, jewelry, dance lessons — Broadway’s side hustles

July 29, 2020 GMT
This combination of photos taken on July 25, 2020 shows Amy Micallef making her craft creations at her home. While Broadway stages remain dark due to the pandemic, Broadway workers are concentrating on side hustles. Micallef, a Broadway seamstress who has worked in the wardrobe departments of “Hamilton,” “Waitress” and “Frozen,” makes gleeful representations of COVID-19 for sale, complete with a pair of eyes and faux fur. (Amy Micallef via AP)
This combination of photos taken on July 25, 2020 shows Amy Micallef making her craft creations at her home. While Broadway stages remain dark due to the pandemic, Broadway workers are concentrating on side hustles. Micallef, a Broadway seamstress who has worked in the wardrobe departments of “Hamilton,” “Waitress” and “Frozen,” makes gleeful representations of COVID-19 for sale, complete with a pair of eyes and faux fur. (Amy Micallef via AP)
This combination of photos taken on July 25, 2020 shows Amy Micallef making her craft creations at her home. While Broadway stages remain dark due to the pandemic, Broadway workers are concentrating on side hustles. Micallef, a Broadway seamstress who has worked in the wardrobe departments of “Hamilton,” “Waitress” and “Frozen,” makes gleeful representations of COVID-19 for sale, complete with a pair of eyes and faux fur. (Amy Micallef via AP)
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This combination of photos taken on July 25, 2020 shows Amy Micallef making her craft creations at her home. While Broadway stages remain dark due to the pandemic, Broadway workers are concentrating on side hustles. Micallef, a Broadway seamstress who has worked in the wardrobe departments of “Hamilton,” “Waitress” and “Frozen,” makes gleeful representations of COVID-19 for sale, complete with a pair of eyes and faux fur. (Amy Micallef via AP)
1 of 4
This combination of photos taken on July 25, 2020 shows Amy Micallef making her craft creations at her home. While Broadway stages remain dark due to the pandemic, Broadway workers are concentrating on side hustles. Micallef, a Broadway seamstress who has worked in the wardrobe departments of “Hamilton,” “Waitress” and “Frozen,” makes gleeful representations of COVID-19 for sale, complete with a pair of eyes and faux fur. (Amy Micallef via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) 1 ; Broadway seamstress Amy Micallef hasn’t p t her talent on hold while theaters are sh t. She’s been making pl sh toys 1 ; n s al pl sh toys.

Micallef, who has worked in the wardrobe departments of ;Hamilton, 1; ;Waitress 1; and ; rozen, 1; makes gleef l representations of COVID-19, complete with a pair of eyes and fa x f r.

Each one goes for $ 3 on Etsy and she enco rages b yers to nleash their anger on her creations 1 ; be merciless against a vir s that has ca sed so m ch loss and disr ption.

;Sometimes yo need to throw something against the wall, yo need to step on something. Do yo want to r n that thing over with yo r car? Honey, be my g est, 1; she said. ;Here is here is yo r chance for sweet, sweet vengeance. 1;

While stages remain dark, Broadway workers like Micallef are finding ways to keep the lights on at home with side h stles. Some teach dance. Some offer m sic lessons or acting tips via Zoom. Some make jewelry or prints of their art. Some sell skincare prod cts or handmade jo rnals.

“Actors 17; normal side gigs are catering and even those jobs don 17;t exist. No one 17;s hosting parties,” said Jeanna de Waal, who is to play the title role in the m sical ;Diana. 1; ;A lot of people are having to learn new side h stles and tilize any skill that they 17;ve got to pay the bills. 1;

The s rvival pict re is certain to get darker when the government’s $6 -a-week pandemic nemployment compensation program expires this month. Unemployment checks in New York top o t at $5 4 a week b t most people get a fraction of that, not eno gh to get by in an expensive city. The relief gro p The Actors nd has distrib ted more than $14 million in assistance to some 1 , people, b t more is needed. The city doesn’t expect shows to restart ntil at least Jan ary.

;I can 17;t say this any clearer: The arts and the entertainment sector as a whole is on the verge of the biggest existential crisis we 17;ve ever had, 1; said Adam Kra thamer, the president of Local 8 , which represents m sicians. ;We 17;re on the edge of the cliff. 1;

He said many of his 7, members are taking a hard look at their careers and may not ret rn to Broadway orchestra pits or symphony spaces. Kra thamer warns the so nd of New York may soon be very different witho t help.

;If the right politicians and philanthropists and people who help the arts are not engaged to p t together a program that will save c lt re and the arts in New York City, it 17;s going to change as we know it forever. 1;

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Ali Solomon’s career was finally soaring when the pandemic hit in mid-March. Like many Broadway artists, she had a patchwork of jobs: She was an associate choreographer for the off-Broadway show ;Trevor: The M sical, 1; the to r choreographer for ;Charlie and the Chocolate actory 1; and was helping a show in development. All were stopped 1 ; b t rent wasn’t.

;Yo 17;re at the top of yo r game after working for so many years and now to go find a job in another ind stry, where do yo start? Yo 17;re at the bottom of the totem pole. Yo 17;re l cky if yo 17;ll make minim m wage, 1; she said.

To make ends meet, she is a skincare cons ltant for Rodan and ields and teaches 1 ; both in-person at a st dio on Long Island and virt ally for PassDoor, an online dance st dio created by Broadway veterans.

;I 17;m starting to add little bits of income. None of it will compare to what I was making before. B t it 17;s something and l ckily I 17;ve been able to save. B t the fear, tho gh, is that nest egg that yo 17;ve been saving is q ickly going to diminish beca se the cost of living is so high. 1;

Living with easy access to the theater district has always been key to Broadway 17;s talent pool. B t those apartments often command the highest rent. So some workers are letting their leases lapse, moving o t and biding their time to when the shows restart, raising fears of a talent drain.

;I already know tons of people who 17;ve left the city, 1; said Solomon. ;It doesn 17;t mean that they 17;re never coming back, b t they 17;ve given p their homes. And they 17;re like, 16;Until we have a reason to come back, there 17;s no need to be here. 17; 1;

De Waal has gone from acting to hiring. She’s p t her foc s on Broadway Weekends, a company she and her sister, Dani, started in 17 offering in-person theater camps for ad lts. ollowing the sh tdown, she decided to foc s online and recr ited fellow performers. ;All my friends were nemployed. So it was very easy to ask aro nd. 1;

Broadway Weekends now offers -3 classes a week on Zoom, charging $39 a month for nlimited access. Enrollment has rocketed to over 7, . De Waal is paying her teachers and is working to establish a non-profit version and an ed cational arm for school kids.

Jenny lorkowski, a veteran at ;Wicked, 1; crafts jewelry on the side for Etsy and is also looking to the wider comm nity. She gives away all proceeds from sales of her beaded and friendship bracelets to the NAACP Legal Defense nd and Color of Change.

;D ring this time, a lot of performers feel they’ve lost their p rpose, 1; she said. ;It was nice to connect with a lot of people and feel like we were all giving towards something bigger than o rselves. 1;

Broadway prod cers have donated millions of dollars to emergency f nds and one has even reached into her own pocket to employ 7 dancers to lead free virt al dance-exercise session classes.

Jenna Segal, the co-prod cer of s ch shows as ;Hadestown 1; and ;What the Constit tion Means to Me, 1; la nched Get In Shape Grrl! on acebook and has expanded it to an app, attracting some 15, members.

;I j st tho ght to myself, 16;Wo ldn 17;t it be f n to bring Broadway to people who are sad beca se the season was j st abo t to open? Let 17;s do something where they can participate and we can keep dancers employed,′ 1; said Segal.

Mackenzie Warren, a dancer and instr ctor, has t rned to a different art form 1 ; offering prints of her lovely watercolor floral arrangements. She says it’s another way to tell a story and bring light to people. B t she also hits a heartbreaking note for theater lovers.

;I 17;ve gotten to perform some dream shows, I’ve gotten to perform on Broadway. I 17;m so gratef l and I hope that my career is not over in that area. B t if it is, I can look back with gratit de and say, ‘OK, well, what 17;s the next advent re? How can I adapt?’ 1;

The pandemic has both revealed the creativity of the Broadway comm nity and its fragility. Micallef, the pl sh toy maker, immediately donated masks for frontline workers when the vir s str ck. B t now her side h stle is barely eno gh to keep her in yarn. She still has faith.

;I have the benefit of knowing two very important things that I think most people may not believe or may not tr ly nderstand 1 ; No. 1: This will end. It will. I promise it will,” she said. “And second, there is good on the other side. 1;

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits