Road To Reopening: Theater Employees Return To Work As Off-Broadway Shows Welcome Back Audiences

On the road to reopening, many theater employees are back at work after a year of unemployment; CBS2's Dave Carlin reports.

Video Transcript

- On the road to re-opening. Many theater employees are back at work after a year of unemployment.

- Several off Broadway shows have opened with performances in front of live audiences. CBS2's Dave Carlin reports.

MOISES KAUFMANN: It's a little bit like Carnival, a little bit like a speakeasy.

DAVE CARLIN: The show seven deadly sins is taking over this row of empty storefronts in the meatpacking district. Steps away from the high line, putting a live audience right outside the windows with headsets on. The set design is by Tony award winner, David Rockwell. Moises Kaufman is the director, and wrote one of the seven short plays that make up this work.

MOISES KAUFMANN: We are bringing back about 100 jobs in the theater.

DAVE CARLIN: Another production, Pursue, invites about 25 audience members at a time inside The Cell theater on West 23rd Street.

CAMILO VAZQUEZ: It's a celebration of spring and rejuvenation. Kind of a communal experience.

DAVE CARLIN: This is live and immersive, musical and mystical, and it's based on Greek mythology.

CAMILO VAZQUEZ: People really need art right now.

DAVE CARLIN: The actors, puppeteers, musicians, crew, and creatives are finally getting paychecks working in the arts that were denied them because of the pandemic.

ELLPETHA TSIVICOS: Everybody involved. There's not one person from the smallest to the highest up. As a matter of fact, we're-- we're all paid equally.

JONAH LEVY: Really making sure that we're conveying all of our safety protocol to audiences.

DAVE CARLIN: Continuing its successful run inside the Daryl Roth theater at Union Square as blindness, it is a sound and light experience taking audiences inside a theater safely.

ASHANTE CARLTON: We're not, you know, slacking on anything, just because the CDC says something. We're still making sure that everybody is protected and everybody is safe.

DAVE CARLIN: In this production, there are stretches of pitch, dark, punctuated by quick flashes of light so ushers can check that people are wearing their masks as required.

AZIZI BELL: We get to get paid and do what we love.

Usher, Labhoise Magee calls this show magical.

LABHOISE MAGEE: It was very emotional, like someone that loves this industry and loves going to see theater while working. And you know, it's a massive part of our life.

DAVE CARLIN: Getting these productions up and running before Broadway helps everyone.

MOISES KAUFMANN: I keep thinking that this production is an act of defiance. That it's an act of defiance against the virus. It's an act of defiance against the impossibility of gathering together in a room.

DAVE CARLIN: Some of the most innovative people in the theater industry are proving they create it and the crowds will come. In the meatpacking district, Dave Carlin, CBS2 News.