It may be Only Intermission but not in the creativity and entrepreneurial departments. With Broadway shut down, many in the industry have pivoted to new opportunities until shows can reopen safely. Since the holidays are right around the corner, here’s a list of 11 new companies created by Broadway veterans during the pandemic. From a cookbook, candles, wine subscriptions, dance classes, and stationery, these are great ways to support the arts industry all while giving Broadway fans an extra bit of razzle-dazzle.
A cookbook Fall for You: Simple recipes for thriving in your best body
Broadway dancer Katie Webber has been featured in eight Broadway shows and was most recently in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical when Broadway shut down to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Webber, who is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, created and self-published an entire cookbook while in self-isolation at home in Queens with her 4-year-old daughter. “Being a dancer and a holistic nutritionist complement each other in so many ways, and I feel that I am approaching food and my recipes from a very well rounded background that I feel so confident in,” she wrote on her website of her passion for dance and eating. Fall for You features 150 pages of “plant-forward” recipes with the philosophy of simplicity, ease, and enjoyment.
To purchase an autographed copy for $30, visit Webber’s website or Amazon.
Vasthy Mompoint was in the middle of filming The Prom on Netflix when the pandemic hit Los Angeles. Her business, Vasthy’s Friends was founded during self-isolation after she saw a great need for joy and creativity among kids. It’s a video platform for Broadway performers to write, choreograph, and compose original kid-friendly programming. So far, there have been over 100 episodes hosted by Mompoint. The best part? They’re FREE. “I believe the way to change the world is through our youth,” she said. “It’s easier to teach a kid to love than unteach an adult to hate.”
With the help of her husband, Mason Granger, and Associate Producer, Leanne Gadow, the goal is to create the most engaging and diverse kid-friendly programming imaginable. Mompoint is a first-generation Haitian-American who grew up in Alabama and has performed in 8 Broadway shows including most recently, The Prom. Growing up, she never saw herself represented on film, TV, or stage. That’s why her programming “reflects the importance for all kids to see themselves represented,” Mompoint said.
Vasthy’s Friends offers private party packages at $475 including this holiday season where families can bring Broadway artists and joy into their homes (remotely) with a personalized event.
Caskey Hunsader was a stage manager working on the national tour of Miss Saigon when the pandemic hit and would be currently working on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Without work, he decided to go all-in on Stagedoor Candle Company by investing several thousands of dollars to get his business venture set up. It took 8 weeks before actually producing his first batch of candles for sale because he spent time all that time researching to get it right. To make the candles in his tiny one-bedroom Harlem apartment, Caskey watched numerous YouTube videos, read blogs, and experimented with waxes and fragrance oils in his apartment until he came up with the current recipe. With 27 products to offer, one of his best sellers so far has been “Two Best Friends” inspired by Wicked. Since launching, Caskey’s shipped over 100 orders including to “some Elphabas” he reveals, and Tony Award-nominee Mary Bridget Davies. “Caskey is one of the most creative and industrious people I know,” boasted Davies. “I was sent a test jar of Marius and fell in love. I already bought the holiday bundle and am enjoying the “Cider By the Fire” holiday cheer in these bleak times. Inspired; inventive; I will be a customer for life!”
Here’s a look at the collection of candles, oil reed diffusers, and room sprays with scents inspired by characters from Broadway musicals. There’s even a limited holiday edition inspired by his time working on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The prices of scents vary. A portion of sales is donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Kimber Sprawl was starring in Girl From The North Country on Broadway when the pandemic hit. Over the summer she decided to start a clothing line with her friend and actress Krystina Burton called Team Dreams. Some of the T-shirts they designed said ”Don’t Ask. Google it.” encouraging others to be curious and to do their own research. “It was the most palpable with the Black Lives Matter moment when many people in the community felt pressured to be the encyclopedia for all things Black,” Sprawl explained. “How can you possibly support something without the knowledge of what exactly it is that you’re supporting?” Since then, they’ve used their platform to support many policies such as global warming, the LGBTQIA community, and COVID-19.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Broadway dancer Beth Nicely Johnson found herself out of work with shows shut down and fitness studios closed. She was working on the set of Netflix’s The Prom as an associate choreographer at the time. So she turned her passion for training some of Broadway’s biggest stars including Sutton Foster and Patina Miller into a business. It all started on her birthday back in April when she asked all her friends to join her on Zoom for a dance cardio workout. It was so much fun, Beth continues to lead donation-based cardio dance classes every Saturday at 10 AM ET remotely to benefit various organizations including Color of Change, Grassroots Law, and Save the Children. Jennifer Garner even pops in from time to time. She then decided to create her own fitness studio, called The Limit. Beth offers multiple classes a week over zoom and has hired several trainers to join her staff. It’s called The Limit because “there is no limit to what you are capable of, physically and mentally,” she explained.
Mary Page Nance was in rehearsal for a reading of Black No More at The New Group when the pandemic hit as well as planning to be in La Jolla Playhouse’s Lempicka later in the year. Left jobless, she turned to bookbinding, an early passion of hers. As a kid, she was always obsessed with paper: folding it, cutting it, making origami. Mary Page was more interested in learning how the books were made than reading them! So now, the Broadway dancer calls herself the “COVID-crafter” by taking recycled paper and books and giving them a new life. She gets many of the treasures from donations, thrift stores, antique shops as well as friends’ garages. The only paper used is made sustainably — most of which comes from French Paper Co.
To purchase stationery, journals, or holiday cards starting at $19, visit her website. Check every Saturday at 12 PM PST for weekly sales.
Timothy Hughes was dancing in Hadestown when the pandemic hit New York City. Six months went by when he decided to launch Performer’s Puzzle; live virtual dance instruction to iconic Broadway songs including “Easy Street” from Annie. He choreographs a large number of the combinations taught over Zoom while keeping in mind various movement levels and understanding the limitations of his clients’ home space. He’s also featured Ashley Wallen’s original choreography from The Greatest Showman since he played The Strong Man in the movie. “This new venture has brought me so much inspiration, a new focus, and overwhelming positivity during an otherwise difficult time,” Hughes said. “I know lots of the members are having a similar response, which just thrills me.”
Hughes plans to include other original Broadway dances he’s learned over the years including some from Hadestown. Classes can be downloaded and taken at your convenience for up to three months. In addition to dance classes, a different Broadway performer is interviewed at the end of each month.
Tina actress Jessica Rush and her 6-year-old daughter, Elliot, started their own jewelry line called Ivy & Clark as a side hustle about two months ago. Since Broadway shut down, she and her husband, Broadway’s Eric Anderson, have come up with many creative activities to do to keep her busy and engaged. After Elliot started making bracelets for her friends, Jessica saw an opportunity to transform it into a business. “As we started to make themes I thought, ‘why not make some that will empower and uplift, and serve as reminders for myself throughout the day?’” Elliot helps Jessica pick out gemstones and color combinations for various stacks. She also helps put the labels on the boxes and pack the orders.
For a look at the Ivy & Clarke collection, visit their Etsy shop here. A portion of sales goes towards the non-profit, The Kids In Need Foundation.
What goes well with holidays at home? A good bottle of vino. Jagged Little Pill producers Arvind Ethan David and Nathan Marcus Brown have launched the Broadway Wine Club: a home delivery wine subscription service. One of the exclusive wines offered is a bottle made by Napa Valley’s Crocker & Starr called “Ghostlight.” The wine is described as a 2013 Cabernet Syrah blend, featuring a special custom label by Broadway art designer Drew Hodges. Every shipment will include a special collectible bottle of premier wine designed by a Broadway luminary, paired with partner wineries that have earned coveted spots on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 lists including Meadowcroft Wines (Sonoma, CA), Evening Land Vineyards (Willamette Valley, OR), Arnot-Roberts (Healdsburg, CA), Mark Ryan Winery (Woodinville, WA), and Lawrelin Wine Cellars (Columbia Valley, WA).
Memberships start at $99/quarter, and customers can choose shipments of 3, 6, or 12 bottles per quarter.
Jagged Little Pill star and newly minted Tony Award-nominee Elizabeth Stanley has turned to making tie-dye clothing as a side hustle. She picked up the craft for fun early on in self-isolation and decided to make it a business. She’s making custom orders on anything including scarves, small tapestries, hand towels, small totes, and baby onesies. Elizabeth is also planning to make hand-painted holiday cards for sale.
For orders, email her. Buyers can choose a charity and Elizabeth will make a donation on their behalf.
In the middle of the pandemic, Robbie Fairchild decided he wanted something to continue blooming despite a Broadway shutdown. That’s when the former New York City Ballet principal dancer and American in Paris star created boo-kay. He turned to flower arranging to ensure the show would still go on. The idea stemmed from a gift he received of a bouquet of flowers from a young girl inspired to dance from his performance as Munkustrap in the Cats film.
For boo•kays starting at $175 that can be delivered throughout Manhattan and boo•kits to be shipped nationwide, visit his website here.
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