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Celebrating Maestras in the Time of COVID

by Sarah Rebell

When I was first introduced to Macy Schmidt and Cynthia Meng, for an Interval article I was writing at the time, they were both recent college graduates who were building their confidence, skills, and networks, as they pursued their career goals of becoming Broadway musicians. A year and a half later, both women made their Broadway debuts in the short-lived 2019-2020 theatre season; Schmidt is the music assistant on Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and Meng plays keyboard for the Company revival.

From an artistic standpoint, Schmidt and her colleagues at Tina were relatively lucky. Their show, along with other musicals including Broadway’s Moulin Rouge, Jagged Little Pill, and West Side Story, as well as Playwrights Horizons’ Unknown Soldier, The New Group’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and Emojiland Off-Broadway, and, the regional world premiere of Gun & Powder, had a chance to open prior to the emergence of the pandemic in New York City. Others, such as the revival of Company in which Meng plays piano, the new Broadway musicals Six and Diana, and Ars Nova’s Oratorio for Living Things, had a chance to perform some previews. The Broadway transfer of Sing Street had barely started tech, and the Public Theatre’s musical The Visitor was preparing for its sitzprobe when the theatre shut down. And some upcoming new musicals, such as Second Stage’s Between the Lines and the Broadway bound Kpop have had to completely postpone or revise their timelines.

What was it like, I wondered, to achieve a longtime career goal only to find the entire industry (and the world at large) grinding to a halt? This year, especially, how can we highlight the accomplishments of the women breaking into music positions in the theatre, positions that often go unacknowledged even during the traditional awards season of a normal year?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken (by phone and email) with more than a dozen women in the Maestra community and beyond who accomplished significant career goals in musical theatre this season, pandemic notwithstanding. These women represent many facets of the music side of the theatre industry, including music assistants and associates, music directors, conductors, songwriters, piano players, percussionists, and music coordinators. While these perspectives are by no means intended to be a complete account of every female musicians’ experience, the achievements and experiences of the women do provide an insightful account into how members of the musical theatre community have been impacted by the pandemic and the changes they hope to see in the industry if/when their shows reopen.


           

For Schmidt, making her Broadway debut was a “completely magical experience” and the very goal that had originally motivated her to move to New York City after college. Schmidt expressed gratitude for making her debut on a show “with such a timely message,” and was thrilled to be “a woman of color working on a musical about one of the most iconic women of color in history.” As a music assistant, her tasks varied from preproduction to rehearsals to production. “During pre-production, I worked closely with the Music Supervisor on getting the Piano/Vocal arrangements prepped and ready to be distributed to the company,” she explained. Once rehearsals started, “I tracked and implemented all changes to the piano/vocal score and would redistribute music materials as needed.” During tech and previews, she went from “jumping on rehearsal piano when needed to working with the London programmers on the click tracks for our band.” Tina had been open for four months by the time Broadway was shut down on March 12; even so, Schmidt was “devastated” and described the mood that day as “nothing short of foreboding.”

A block away, the producers of another new Broadway musical, Moulin Rouge, had already decided to cancel the March 12 performance of their show prior to the official order because a cast member had tested positive for the virus. Upon hearing the news, one of the show’s music assistants, Rachel Dean, felt “really appreciative of our producers for making that tough call before they’d been mandated to.” Dean had been working on Moulin Rouge for nearly a year at that point; she started her dual position as music assistant and rehearsal pianist for the new musical back in April 2019, three months ahead of its July 2019 opening. Although Dean had worked on Broadway before, as a rehearsal pianist for Hamilton, Moulin Rouge marked her first time getting to work on a show prior to its opening. During rehearsals, she had been “tracking the musical changes made in the room, sometimes inputting them into Finale, printing and distributing the new pages, as well as sometimes accompanying rehearsals and running Ableton tracks.” Now that the show had been open and running for months, Dean was mostly working as an accompanist during rehearsals for new cast members or swings. As it turned out, she was fortunate that Moulin Rouge was one of several part time jobs. Though she continued to play at Hamilton rehearsals, Dean mainly worked at her alma mater, NYU, which stayed open by shifting to online. “I lost my additional income sources, but the company members lost their full-time jobs,” she noted.

For musicians playing in the orchestra of a seemingly long running musical, the closure was similarly disruptive. Tia Allen, who plays the viola in Jagged Little Pill, recalled having “mixed emotions” when she learned about the shutdown. “I have worked my whole life to get to this point in my career and suddenly the rug was pulled from underneath me,” she explained. In fact, when she first got the job, she literally “scream[ed] with joy.” Allen had actually grown up listening to the Jagged Little Pill album and “strong women like Alanis [Morissette] inspired me to become a musician.” Her experience playing the show was further enhanced by Tom Kitt’s orchestrations, which include a large viola solo in the song “Mary Jane.” She also appreciates the challenge of playing in a string trio, where the parts are “constantly shifting between a hard rock sound and a rich melodious ballad sound” and the viola is “often playing double duty” as a second violin. But Jagged Little Pill is one of the shows still slated to reopen once the shutdown is over, so Allen will hopefully return to her viola part eventually. “I just keep telling myself to keep faith,” she said.

Janna Graham, who plays percussion for the new revival of West Side Story, also felt mixed emotions when she initially learned about the shutdown. Although she missed playing the show, she expressed relief that she didn’t have to worry about her safety amidst the typical crowds of  Midtown Manhattan. I happened to speak with Graham on the day that Broadway announced the extension of its shutdown through Labor Day Weekend. (The shutdown is now expected to continue through the end of 2020.) Though she acknowledged that the situation was surreal, she was nonetheless adamant, “I still don’t think it’s right for us to go back yet.” Graham is very much looking forward to returning to the show when it is safe to do so. West Side Story is the first time she has had her own percussion chair on Broadway, instead of subbing in for someone else’s chair, as she did on The Prom. “It was a dream come true,” Graham said. Going back and forth between past and present tenses, she described the various percussion instruments she got to play throughout the show, ranging from xylophone to hand drums like congas and bongos to cymbals to maracas.  Graham’s favorite moments in the famous Leonard Bernstein score included doing her xylophone parts in the “Prologue,” performing her claves solo at the start of “America,” and playing the finger cymbals in “Maria.”

Many percussive instruments, especially the drums, are often gendered as traditionally male, which makes it all the more impressive that Graham was not the only woman making her Broadway debut by originating percussion/drum chair this season. Like Graham, Elena Bonomo had experience subbing on other Broadway shows, but she had never before had her own chair.  As the drum chair for Six, Bonomo is part of the new musical’s all-female band, called “TheLadies in Waiting.” (Six is also noteworthy for having the only female music coordinator on Broadway this season, Kristy Norter. Read the previous Maestra blogpost about Norter here.) “The fact that I get to be part of a show with so many women in those roles makes an already amazing opportunity even more special,” Bonomo explained, “because we’re making history.” As for the drum part itself, Bonomo described it as “pure fun.” She considers the set-up to be “unique” because it is a hybrid of electronic drums and real cymbals.

Bass player Michelle Osbourne also had fun playing the score to Six, which is full of musical variety. “As a bass player, you get to play a little bit of rock, play some ballads, soul, funky stuff,” she said, adding that band is onstage throughout the entire show, which  “makes the playing experience even more enjoyable.” She, too, appreciated being part of an all-female band in a female driven musical. “I don’t believe I’ve been in a situation like that before,” she reflected. “To have everyone from stage managers to the contractor be female, it’s very inspiring; it’s very empowering.” Osbourne considers the show to be inspirational not only for the musicians playing in the band, but also for the audience as well. “When you think about the young children, and even adults, that come to see [Six], it gives them a sense of inspiration to say, at every level, women can do the same things as men.” 

The decision to close down Broadway on March 12 was particularly tough for the company of Six because it was supposed to be their opening night. Bonomo was in her apartment, getting ready for the opening night celebration, when she learned about the shutdown. She and her family decided to still get dressed up and enjoy a special dinner together in honor of what would’ve been the show’s opening night. According to Osbourne, the Six band now laughs about the fact that they were shut down on their opening night. She appreciates how they had several weeks of previews, before the shutdown, “so we played the show inside out.” Furthermore, she is optimistic that the show will return. “I don’t know when,” she said, “but we are set to open back,” and then the Six team will finally get its chance to celebrate a proper opening.

But Six is, sadly, only one of many shows that did not get to have an official opening night this season. Company’s opening had been timed to coincide with composer Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday. And while a one-time birthday concert to celebrate Sondheim was able to take place online, the Broadway production cannot. For Cynthia Meng, getting to play that score on Broadway during the revival’s ten days of previews was “exhilarating, satisfying, and wonderful.” Meng had done some work on the music team for Hadestown, but she had never actually played in the pit of a Broadway show until she got the call to do Company. “I felt honored to be there,” she said. Even though much of Company’s music is “in the collective social consciousness,” the band spent several days “getting to know each other musically” and, in the case of the keyboard players, “getting acquainted with our tech setups” prior to the show’s sitzprobe with Sondheim, which Meng described as “thrilling.”

Like Meng, Britt Bonney had some previous experience doing music assistant work for Broadway shows, but she’d never gotten to be in the rehearsal room until she was hired to be the associate music director of Sing Street, thanks in large part to a recommendation from Maestra’s Mary-Mitchell Cambell. “I was really excited to be Associate MD, to be in a position where I was teaching,” Bonney said. Her main responsibility was to train the show’s understudies, which came with “a unique set of challenges” because the cast of Sing Street is also the band.  Bonney looked back “wistfully” on their show’s one day in the Lyceum theatre, which she described as “a beautifully sad and hard day.” On March 12, there was a soundcheck for the instruments, right before the start of Sing Street’s tech. During that soundcheck, the company learned that Broadway would be closing. She recalled the show’s actor-musicians “playing their hearts out on the stage” because, as she rhetorically asked, “what else can you do in the face of impending loss?”

Haley Bennett, an associate music director and alternate conductor of the new musical Diana was looking forward to her first scheduled opportunity to conduct the show on Broadway. Bennett was “stunned” when she first heard about the shutdown and “sad to be apart from the Diana team for so long.” She’d been working on Diana since January 2018; thanks to her longtime involvement in the piece, she was able to have “a hands-on role in the development of the piano/vocal score itself.” Not only has she worked on the upkeep of the score, she has also taught vocals, played rehearsal piano, run understudy rehearsals, and is looking forward to coordinating the upcoming cast album recording process. When the show did an out of town run at La Jolla Playhouse last year, she got to conduct many of those performances. “I truly had the best time,” Bennett recalled. She is also cognizant of what it meant to audience members to see a female conductor. “While I hate that this is not yet an ‘expected norm’ in our industry,” she reflected, “I felt lucky to be part of the force trying to make it happen!”

That force of female conductors now includes Lena Gabrielle as well. As music director for the off-Broadway musical Emojiland, Gabrielle taught music, helped with the arranging, played first keyboard, and also conducted the show for all eight performances a week. Gabrielle often works in new musical development, so she has conducted many reading and workshops, but Emojiland was her first time conducting a long running show. “It was such a joy,” she said. “I love the challenges of being consistent every single day, but also responding to what is going on onstage. I think conducting is a beautiful art.” Prior to the shutdown, Gabrielle was able to conduct the musical for eight weeks, which was the majority of the show’s scheduled run, but Emojiland lost its final weeks of performances. “While I was devastated that we weren’t able to finish the run, I was grateful that we were able to shut down when we did.”

Emojiland is one of many shows, especially off-Broadway, that had to end their runs earlier. The sad truth is that many theatres will be unlikely to recover their losses and return once the pandemic is over. But some shows are determined to prevail, such as Oratorio for Living Things, which only played two previews prior to the shutdown. Mona Seyed-Bolorforosh, who made her off-Broadway debut playing piano in Oratorio, believes that the show will be back because the producing theatre Ars Nova, its writer Heather Christian, and the whole company are all “scrappy,” determined to persist. “That’s the word we’ve all been using,” she said. “We love that word.” The scrappiness of the Oratorio team seems fitting for a show that emphasized “immersion and a lack of boundaries,” as Seyed-Bolorforosh put it. Oratorio actually had no conductor. “We were all communicating about starts and stops through either eye contact or breath,” explained Seyed-Bolorforosh, who found that her chamber music background came in handy in that regard. “Everything was about constant flow and the idea of operating as one organism.”

Stephanie Leah Evans also made her off-Broadway debut this season; she ended up working on three different musicals, all new works, within six months. In the fall, Evans was the music assistant on The Wrong Man at MCC, where her responsibilities included transcribing new songs and background vocals. This past winter, she served as the music assistant on The New Group’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, acting as copyist as well. And she was in the midst of working as the music assistant, which entailed “ensemble harmony tracking and changing logging for the orchestrator and copyist,” for the world premiere of The Visitor at The Public Theatre when the show was postponed due to COVID-19. “We paused on the day of the sitzprobe, which is my absolute favorite day of the process,” Evans said. “I’m very disappointed that we didn’t get to have this special experience or get to share the show with any audiences yet.” Although The Visitor was not able to make it to that part of the process back in March, Evans is hopeful that the show will live on in the future. “In the meantime,” she said,  “I’m grateful to be able to play through the score and reminisce.”

As Evans noted, the job of music assistant “certainly does not come by through a typical application process!” She was hired to work on all three shows because the music directors of each show knew her and gave her the opportunity to be considered for the job. Most of the other women interviewed for this piece had similar experiences in terms of how they got involved with their respective shows. Musicians often seem to be hired, particularly for breakthrough job opportunities, either because a member of the music team knew them or because they were recommended to a member of the music team by a trusted source.

Tomoko Akaboshi has been an established musician, music coordinator, and production supervisor in the live performance and recording world for years, but this past season she made her musical theatre coordinator debut last summer as the coordinator for the musical A Strange Loop, written by Michael R. Jackson, which recently won the Pulitzer Prize. (Akaboshi is the only woman of color to have served as music coordinator for a Pulitzer Prize wining musical and, according to the musicians’ union Local 802, likely the first woman of color ever in the coordinator position.) She’s found that coordinating orchestras for recordings and television is very different from coordinating bands for musical theatre. “The New York theatre scene has a very strong and unique community with rules and a history of its own,” Akaboshi said. “I’m still learning what it means to be a part of that community.” She was motivated to begin working as a coordinator in theatre because she wanted to help create job opportunities in the industry for a more diverse and inclusive group of musicians. “I felt the lack of work circulating in the community and I started to wonder how we could change that.”

Akaboshi candidly acknowledged that she has encountered challenges as a relatively young, female music coordinator. But she firmly believes that “the coordinator’s job isn’t to create drama; it’s to manage the drama and to ensure the quality of the music for your production.” And Akaboshi has certainly delivered. Since A Strange Loop last summer, she has worked on two other theatrical projects, Unknown Soldier, which, like Strange Loop, was at Playwrights Horizons, and The Visitor, the musical that Evans worked on as well. The “acoustic sounding” chamber piece, Unknown Solider, closed, due to the pandemic, shortly after its opening. “Anyone who has poured their hearts into a production can imagine the complex emotions one might have. Finding out that you have no place to return to, not being able to say goodbye, all under a dark cloud of uncertainty,” Akaboshi reflected, mourning the show’s abrupt end. But perseverance and moving on is part of the job. “Every production has an end to its life, whatever the circumstances may be. You learn to be strong as a freelancer,” she said. Furthermore, the recent news of Strange Loop’s Pulitzer win gives her hope for the future of the art, even amidst the chaos caused by COVID-19. “There can be change. Good writing, good music, hard work can be recognized.”

But, in many cases, plans for the future, and the more inclusive new musicals that it promised to bring, have now been postponed. Songwriters Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel have been writing together since they first met at the BMI Songwriters Workshop. Anderson and Samsel were scheduled to make their off-Broadway debuts as the writing team for Between the Lines, a show which features a female protagonist, is based on source material written by Jodi Piccoult and daughter, and has a female producer, Daryl Roth. It’s been six years now since they first began working together to write music and lyrics for the show, a long process that has included developmental workshops in New York City, a summer at New York Stage and Film at Vassar College, and a regional production at Kansas City Rep.

The songwriters had been looking forward to the New York premiere of their musical at Second Stage in May 2020. “It felt like the coolest miracle,” said Anderson. “Second Stage’s roster is pretty amazing, so to be included in that is a dream come true.” Both women are disappointed that the production had to be postponed this spring, but they readily acknowledge, “there are bigger things at stake, like the health of everybody in New York City.” The new plan is to do Between the Lines at Second Stage next spring; in the meantime, the songwriting team says they are “clinging to hope” and “doing our best to stay positive.”  Fortunately, they had another debut to look forward to this spring. Anderson and Samsel wrote the majority of the songs for Josh Gad, Nora Smith, and Loren Bouchard’s Central Park, a new animated musical TV show, which just debuted on Apple TV. “Figuring out how to create a TV musical, with these episodes that are only 22 minutes, has been a process that we’ve gone through together, which has been fun and interesting,” Samsel said.

Songwriter Helen Park has also kept one eye on the world of TV and film, while her Broadway bound musical Kpop (written with Max Vernon and Jason Kim) readjusts its timeline. Kpop, which premiered to critical acclaim off-Broadway in 2017, was originally planning to open on Broadway in the 2020-2021 season. “When we learned that our producers wanted to take it to Broadway, I couldn’t believe it,” Park said. “Like any other aspiring theatre composer, it’s been my dream to have a show on Broadway.” But Kpop holds even deeper significance for Park, who is a proud Korean, and likely to be the first Asian female composer with a musical on Broadway. “The thought that the show would be the first Broadway show about Korea and its culture and music feels pretty significant to me.” Although it is uncertain whether the show will still open in the coming year, the writers are hard at work. They have been meeting virtually on a weekly basis ever since the quarantine began. “We can’t predict the future or when theaters will reopen, but we’re trying our best to be prepared for anything.”

In the meantime, Park is gearing up for the release of the family-friendly animated musical film, Over the Moon, which will premiere on Netflix this fall. “The animation can give the song a whole different experience,” said Park, who wrote the songs for the film, along with Chris Curtis and Marjorie Duffield. “The first time you experience your song come to life with the picture, it’s just magical.” The protagonist of Over the Moon is a “smart, confident, and fearless” eleven-year-old girl. Park, who is herself the mother of a young girl, is grateful that her daughter “will grow up with this film about women written by a woman.”

Another musical theatre writer who took her own family into consideration when creating her latest work is Angelica Chéri. She wrote the book and lyrics to Gun & Powder (music by Ross Baum), which began its life as a thesis project at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and received a world premiere production at the Signature Theatre this past winter. The story is based on “appealing and enigmatic” tales passed down for generations by Chéri’s relatives, about a pair of sisters “who are passing for white.” Chéri pointed out that it is a “dangerous and life-threatening” issue that, other in than Showboat’s somewhat superficial exploration of the subject, is not seen very often in the canon of American musicals. “The root of this musical is about racial identity, and color politics, and blackness versus whiteness, and what it affords you, and what it costs you,” said Chéri.” The issue of racial inequality has always been relevant in our country, and will continue to be, until there’re significant changes made.” 

Though she believes the timing is right to tell this story, the timeline of the show’s own development was pushed back, due to COVID-19. She is grateful that the Signature production ended just before the virus really impacted the country, but a follow-up lab this spring, that was going to address next steps for the show (with the ultimate, long-term goal of reaching Broadway), had to be postponed. Chéri and Baum were already used to long distance  collaboration via Skype (since she lives in LA and he lives in NY) so they’ve been using the extra time afforded by the pandemic to work on “the laundry list of changes we wanted to do, and really make intentional choices, not under the pressure of a deadline.” She has also been keeping busy right now by taking piano lessons and a TV pilot writing course. “My focus has been on the screen,” Chéri explained, because “I’m influenced by the fact that it’s uncertain when we’ll be able to return to the theatre. So, I’m placing my attention on a medium we can bring to people in their homes.”

But the songwriters focusing on film and TV are not the only ones keeping busy with outside projects during this strange quarantine period. In addition to baking, reading, doing fitness, and watching Netflix, these women have been finding ways to stay motivated and productive by learning new skills and working on new projects. Both Evans and Bonney mentioned that they have been participating in Maestra’s free online workshops. Evans credits her current “creative energy to the Maestra workshops” which she described as “being so informative and inspiring.”  Bonney, who is chair of Maestra’s hospitality committee, appreciates the skill development aspect of these Maestra workshops, as well as “the opportunity to have more solid anchors within my community.”

Some musicians who know that their musicals are set to reopen post-pandemic have been practicing their show scores to ensure that the material remains fresh in their minds. “I keep the score very close by,” said Osbourne, “because I don’t want it to leave my memory.” (The musicians of Six memorized their parts so that they wouldn’t constantly be looking at iPads onstage as they interacted with the other performers.) Meanwhile, Bennett is doing “practice runs” of Diana over Facetime and Gabrielle is cleaning up the Emojiland score. Many others have commented on how much they miss the experience of live collaboration with fellow musicians. Backstage rituals, such as listening to the MD’s eclectic playlist in the dressing room before the show, or getting together for post-show drinks at the theatre on Saturday nights, are harder to replicate via Zoom. That said, Bonomo has been staying in touch with the other “Ladies in Waiting” from Six, Gabrielle participates in an Emojiland band group chat, and Meng has weekly Zoom sessions with her Company musicians. On what would have been their opening night, Seyed-Bolorforosh took part in a Zoom toast with her fellow Oratorio company members. But nothing can replace the actual experience of live collaboration and in-person community. “I miss being in the room with my colleagues more than I can express,” said Schmidt.

As a company member of a show that did have some COVID cases back in March, Bonney is aware of the duality inherent in her current privilege. “It’s a bizarre combination of luxury that I’m not a person going to work in this pandemic, but then, there is the dark side of that, which is that I’m out of work.” Many of the other women remarked on the darker aspects of the pandemic, how the stress and emotional burden has been affecting them as well. “I’m extending grace to myself for lowered productivity and drive,” said Dean, who has learned to “make peace” with the fact that some days it’s been hard to be creative right now. Seyed-Bolorforosh has a similar outlook. “I just go with what presents itself to me,” she explained, “rather than trying to push too hard for something that isn’t there.” She has learned to have patience with herself “on the days when it doesn’t feel feasible.”

The difficulties of this dire situation, including the anti-Asian bias that has unfolded throughout the country, have led to Park to reevaluate what fuels her as a composer. “Since the pandemic happened, I’ve had to re-examine why the world needs what I do, and why I write music and tell stories,” she reflected. “I think my motivation comes from wanting to bring people together through shared stories and emotions. I want to challenge people’s tendency to generalize a group of people, and bring out the diverse, intricate, complex spectrum of colors within those groups.”

“Since the pandemic happened, I’ve had to re-examine why the world needs what I do, and why I write music and tell stories,” she reflected. “I think my motivation comes from wanting to bring people together through shared stories and emotions. I want to challenge people’s tendency to generalize a group of people, and bring out the diverse, intricate, complex spectrum of colors within those groups.”

— HELEN PARK

In the weeks since I first began working on this article, the theatre and music industries have started to face long overdue reckonings with their own systemic biases and lack of diversity. “I hope with Black people in the music industry speaking their truth, they are being heard and all parts of the industry will take action,” said Allen. She would like this change to occur backstage, as well as onstage, noting that there is only one other Black woman who works on her show. “Particularly at this time more than ever, being a Black woman in a Broadway band keeps me fighting to get back to the stage.” Looking towards the future, Bennett would like to see revelations from the pandemic enable the musical theatre industry to make positive changes. “I really hope that mindset of support, and lifting one another up, is one that becomes even more pervasive in our industry post-pandemic.” Evans agrees, “I hope to see and facilitate the creation of new works from fresh perspectives that can help drive our community forward.”

Anderson and Samsel would like to see stories that are more joyous and more inclusive. “I’m hoping we’ll be ready for a huge, broad spectrum of stories to be stories, stories about women, stories by women, stories that are uplifting, and stories that bring people joy,” Anderson said. “Maybe we’ll take off our critic hats, and set them aside for a minute, and just love theatre for theatre.” Bonney feels similarly. “Now that this anxiety is bubbling under the surface, there’s been a renewed interest in things that make us laugh, things that make us smile. There is a huge benefit,” she noted, “in seeing something delightful and whimsical.” Whether comedic or more serious, Park views theatre as a possible healing tool for those who have been traumatized by the pandemic. “I know that theatre will be a source of comfort for many people when it returns.”

As Dean put it, “the first live show each of us gets to see after this will feel like a much-needed gasp of fresh air.” Schmidt hopes that, when things return to some semblance of normally, there will be an opportunity to hold a belated 2019-2020 Tony Awards ceremony “to commemorate the amazing work this season that opened before the shutdown.” Whether or not that awards ceremony actually happens, the work of all the women who took new steps forward in their careers this year deserves to be celebrated. Hopefully, the resilience, creativity, drive, and optimism of these Maestra women will not be forgotten once the shutdown is lifted. Hopefully these women will continue to propel their careers forward. Hopefully, they will shape a more positive, compassionate, and inclusive industry as they do.

“One thing I know for sure,” Schmidt said, “is that when this is all over, we won’t take for granted any of the simple joys that make Broadway what it is: applauding amidst a packed audience, watching fans line up at the stage door, or even walking to the subway in Times Square post-show. I have to believe that we’ll be back — and with renewed appreciation, stronger than ever before.”


2 thoughts on “Celebrating Maestras in the Time of COVID

  1. Despite the huge disappointment and the perplexing uncertainty about the future of theater – these women remain dedicated to their careers, improving their skills and to one day restoring the magic of live performances. Impressive commitment. Stay safe – stay strong.

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