While recovering from the coronavirus, Brian Stokes Mitchell began belting”The Impossible Dream” outside his Manhattan window each evening
That dear show song may be an proper theme as employees in live theater wait to return.
In addition to having an idled Tony Award-winning celebrity, he serves as chairman of their federal human services business The Actors Fund. He calls the past 138 years of the fund”a dress rehearsal” for these desperate times.
“People are incredibly generous, and I would almost use the phrase’amazingly,'” he states. “I use that word because individuals are always incredibly fun and supportive, but only because everybody is hurting today.”
Despite dropping one of The Actors Funds biggest revenue streams — a unique performance from every Broadway show — it has distributed more than $20 million in emergency financial aid to over 15,000 people since March 18, 2020.
While film theaters have recently reopened to smaller audiences, Broadway’s 41 theaters stay closed and Mitchell fears the legitimate recovery can take years.
“We are going to have a little PTSD that we are going to need to get over and before most of us feel secure,” Mitchell stated.
Recently, Mitchell spoke with The Associated Press to talk about the way the theater community can rally, his battle with COVID-19, and also how The Actors Fund is coaching actors for different lines of work.
AP: You were quite public about your COVID-19 diagnosis. What went through your head?
Mitchell: I never had the impression when I had it this was likely to be something to take out me. Now that might have just been denial or I don’t know. But I had the sense — even when I was at my worst — I did not think’This is the way my life ends.’
AP: What sort of tasks does The Actors Fund find out of work actors?
Mitchell: We needed survey employees during unemployment, vaccine workers, things like this. There is always something else. If one door shuts, another door opens. And that’s been part of the Actors Fund has performed — help train people for all these things. Also, during the census, people were learning how to become census workers too. We are in a position to help people find these alternative techniques to encourage themselves.
AP: Do you think Broadway will reopen in May as manufacturers have said?
Mitchell: Will that occur in May, June, July, August? Who knows? It might be September before we begin. Or it could be precisely when they say it is. We simply don’t know. There are more questions than answers.
AP: How long can it take for Broadway to recuperate?
Mitchell: This pandemic may be just two years from beginning to end for most people. Not celebrities, or anybody in the acting industry. Because I’m an actor, that’s the very first thing that comes to my head. It is probably likely to be like five years since we have to recover from this. A good deal of people not just lost their principal job, but missing a backup job too. A lot of people in show business, when they’re not functioning, they might bartend, they may work in a restaurant. And those tasks mostly have been cut back. And for a while they were stopped also.
AP: What about smaller theatres and local displays?
Mitchell: Possibly we are likely to see regional theatres come back in full swing before we see Broadway come back in full swing because people desire live theater. They’re craving that. They would like to sit with different people and encounter something that is only occurring that one time for them. People want that… I think that it’s going to happen regionally first since it’s easier to get in your vehicle and push a half-hour should you want to and park your car and see in regional theater and more economical than it is to plan a trip.
Mitchell: Just Like everybody else in seven o’clock every night, my spouse and I would hang outside the window and clap and bang on drums and pots and pans as thanks for the vital workers. I think I feel strong . I think I could sing without coughing.’ So, I thought let me only sing — what the heck, I will sing’The Impossible Dream,’ and I loathed it and I saw everybody in the road stopped and everybody looked up. They listened and everybody applauded. There’s lots of people because I overlook Broadway. So, there’s still a great deal of individuals on the street. I had been thinking it was only going to be a one-off — which was my way of saying thanks… The following night I’m pounding the pots like everybody else, and applause dies down and then someone on the road screams,’Sing the song!’ So, I staged it. Ultimately audiences formed and hundreds of people were there, and it struck international news.