NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On the road to reopening, 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.READ MORE: Long-Delayed Tony Awards Finally Have A Date — Sept. 26
Among them is “Seven Deadly Sins.” The show is taking over a row of empty storefronts in the Meatpacking District, steps away from the High Line. It puts a live audience right outside the windows with headsets on.
“It’s a little bit like a carnival, a little bit like a speakeasy,” director Moises Kaufman told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
The set design is by Tony Award winner David Rockwell.
Kaufman also wrote one of the seven short plays that make up “Seven Deadly Sins.”
“We are bringing back about 100 jobs in the theater,” he said.
Another production, “Persou,” invites about 25 audience members at a time inside the Cell Theater on West 23rd Street.
“It’s a celebration of spring and rejuvenation and a communal experience,” co-creator and writer Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez said.
It’s live and immersive, musical and mystical, and it’s based on Greek mythology.
“People really need art right now,” Quiroz-Vazquez said.
The actors, puppeteers, musicians, crew and creatives are finally getting paychecks working in the arts that were denied them because of the pandemic.READ MORE: After More Than A Year, The Show Must Go On: More Broadway Shows Announce Plans To Resume Performances
“Everybody involved, there’s not one person from the smallest to the highest up. As a matter of fact, we’re all paid equally,” “Persou” co-creator and director Ellpetha Tsivicos said.
“Really making sure that we’re conveying all of our safety protocols to audiences,” said Cell Theatre associate producer Jonah Levy.
Continuing a successful run inside the Daryl Roth Theatre at Union Square is “Blindness.” It is a sound and light experience, taking audiences inside the theater safely.
“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,” Daryl Roth Theatre house manager D. Ajane Carlton said.
In “Blindness,” there are stretches of pitch dark punctuated by quick flashes of light so ushers can check if people are wearing their masks as required.
“We get to get paid and do what we love,” said Azizi Bell, an usher at the Daryl Roth Theatre.
Usher Labhaoise Magee calls “Blindness” magical.
“It was very emotional. Like, as someone that loves this industry and loves going to see theater while working in it. You know, it’s a massive part of our life,” she said.
Getting these productions up and running before Broadway can helps everyone.
“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,” Kaufman said.MORE NEWS: Sen. Chuck Schumer: $16 Billion Allotted To Help Theater Industry Recover From Pandemic
Some of the most creative people in the theater industry are proving, if they create it, the crowds will come.