Published On: Sun, Sep 26th, 2021

Broadway Latinos are back after Covid shutdown

In the center of the coronavirus pandemic final 12 months, Broadway actor Bianca Marroquín would discover herself awake in the course of the evening, attempting to make sense of the shuttered theaters that had turned her world the other way up.

“I would wake up at 2 a.m. with a heavy heart and anxiety. My entire existence had changed,” she mentioned. “I had wanted to do this [performing] since I was 3, and now it was gone. I questioned everything about my life. I missed my stage. Then I thought, was it time for me to move on, to say goodbye?” 

Now Marroquín is back on stage, starring in “Chicago” on Broadway. Eighteen months after Covid-19 compelled a shutdown of dwell theater, Latino performers are back on the Great White Way — simply in time for the celebration of theater on the Tony Awards on Sunday evening.

Bianca Marroquín is starring in “Chicago” on Broadway.Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

It has been an emotional expertise, Marroquín mentioned.

“Everyone went through loss and change, so it was good to be together again, lifting each other up,” she mentioned.

She famous that each performers and viewers members have gone via quite a bit.

“We are together in this communion, the phenomenon of live theater,” she mentioned.

Despite the success of exhibits with numerous casts, Latinos stay considerably under-represented on Broadway. Of the roughly 51,000 lively members of Actors’ Equity Association, the union for theater performers, 3.1 p.c are Latino.

Miguel Cervantes, who performs the title function in “Hamilton,” mentioned he understands the worth of illustration.

“Before the pandemic, one of the most meaningful parts of my job was when young people would tell me it was amazing to see someone ‘with a name like yours up there,'” he mentioned.

Cervantes had solely completed 10 performances on Broadway in 2020 earlier than the pandemic hit. “I had just gotten used to doing the show here, after Chicago, and then we had to close it all down,” he mentioned.

Now he performs earlier than viewers members who are all carrying masks. “It is still an amazing feeling. I can tell that they are all ‘smizing,’” he mentioned.


Ivan Hernandez was in “Dear Evan Hansen” when Covid-19 struck New York City. Initially, he thought his present would solely be off for a month. As time glided by, he headed dwelling to Los Angeles.

Ivan Hernandez performs Larry Murphy in “Dear Evan Hansen.” Nathan Johnson

He and his household later examined constructive for Covid-19, an expertise Hernandez recalled as “terrifying.”

“There were moments when I couldn’t catch a breath,” Hernandez mentioned. “I wasn’t sure if I should go to the hospital, which was so unsettling. For the first time in my life, I had a panic attack. Not knowing how the disease was going to progress was frightening.” 

Hernandez mentioned he’s wanting ahead to beginning rehearsals in October.

“Closing so abruptly was such a jarring end,” he mentioned. “Our theater family, we saw each other six days a week, eight shows a week. We formed a community.”

A modified panorama with Covid, fairness points

Hernandez and his colleagues are returning to a modified theater panorama. During the pandemic, some exhibits — together with the revival of “West Side Story,” with many Latino forged members — closed completely. Veteran actor Nick Cordero, 41, died in July 2020 after contracting the coronavirus. Beloved actress Doreen Montalvo, 56, an unique forged member of “In the Heights,” died in October after a quick sickness.

The New York theater world felt the ripple results of the nation’s broader social justice actions. Acclaimed actress Karen Olivo shocked the Broadway group by asserting that she wouldn’t be returning to “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” citing what she mentioned had been abusive practices within the trade and an absence of “integrity.” Actors Equity introduced a brand new membership coverage to make the union extra accessible for “people of color and people of other marginalized identities.” 

The Black Lives Matter motion reverberated on Broadway as properly.

“Our producers started working with experts on diversity,” Hernandez mentioned, “and our cast had [virtual] meetings to discuss racism, representation and inclusion in casting, in our work, in the business. Sometimes it was painful, but we discussed important things together.”

Broadway’s Latino performers are hopeful that their trade can return to a way of, if not normalcy, stability. 

For forged and crew members, which means working below new security protocols.

“As soon as we get off stage, we put our masks on,” Gerianne Pérez, of “Waitress,” mentioned. “It can be difficult, because it messes up your stage makeup. … We are doing this balancing act of enjoying each other’s company and being very careful.”

Backstage guests are now not allowed, and actors can now not greet viewers members on the stage door after the present.

“The show is sacred, and no one wants to get sick and be out for an extended period,” Pérez mentioned.

Gerianne Pérez is back on Broadway in “Waitress.”Courtesy Gerianne

Although she was based mostly in New York, Pérez spent many of the pandemic together with her household in Florida. “I did my best to stay busy, but I had moments when I wondered whether it was time to pivot and leave the business,” she mentioned.

Wanting to get back to her adopted hometown, Pérez took a job at a mortgage firm in New York City. 

“I tried it. I really did. I gave it my all, but I was so unhappy,” she mentioned.

Then Pérez obtained an surprising cellphone name.

“The ‘Waitress’ producers wanted to know if I would do the show on Broadway — and rehearsals started tomorrow. I left the mortgage company that day,” Pérez mentioned. “If you had told me a year ago that I would be in one of the first shows to open after the pandemic, I never would have believed you.”

Pérez mentioned the power at rehearsals is “joyous and palpable” as a result of everyone seems to be thrilled to assemble in particular person.

“It was like a sensory overload,” she mentioned. “And we have had such supportive audiences. They are glad to be back, too. They give us massive applause.”

Tomás Matos of from Broadway’s “Diana the Musical.”Jessica Osber

Tomás Matos, an ensemble member in “Diana the Musical,” is able to make his official Broadway debut. “Diana” had began previews however not opened when the pandemic hit.

Matos is the one Latinx particular person within the present: “Hey, I am representing! And for Afro Latinos too!”

For Matos, whose pronouns are he/they, being quarantined at dwelling with household proved annoying, they usually moved into their very own residence for 10 months.

“For folks like me, being home is not always the most liberating environment,” Matos mentioned. “With my sexual orientation, and gender expression, I had to get out for a while, which allowed me to expand who I am.”

During their time away from “Diana the Musical,” Matos shot a film and appeared on “Saturday Night Live.” And they’ve moved back in with their household.

“It feels good now, as things get back to normal, to be with my gente,” Matos mentioned.

Matos has missed each performing with their “Diana” forged mates and the Broadway audiences.

“Dancing on a Broadway stage is magical, and dancing alongside people you love is indescribable,” Matos mentioned. “New York needs live theater again, and I feel blessed to be part of the community that can do that for the city.”

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