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Broadway workers become supporting actors in NYC vaccination effort

Almost 97,000 Broadway workers found themselves jobless when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down New York City in March 2020.

At the time, there were 31 productions running, including eight new shows in previews and another eight shows in rehearsals preparing for the spring season.

But the show will go on, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on May 5 that Broadway is set to reopen on Sept. 14 with the aim of filling theaters to 100% occupancy.

Over the past year, many individuals employed by Broadway shows have had to find other sources of work including Susan Sampliner, the company manager of the long-running musical “Wicked.”

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Sampliner manages the Times Square COVID-19 vaccination site that employs solely Broadway workers run by ATC Alert, a medical staffing company. 

“I’ve always said, if you can comfortably manage a Broadway musical, you can manage anything. But I never tested that but it all works the same way,” she told Fox News. “My actors are the nurses here. The ones giving the shots are the stars of our show. That’s who we’re promoting. And the rest of us who are working here, who are all industry people, are the crew that supports the actors in doing the show. Instead of doing an inventory of tickets, I’m doing an inventory of vaccines.”

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Broadway has a reopening date of Sept. 14. 

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Broadway has a reopening date of Sept. 14. 
(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

ATC Alert CEO Jordan Savitsky told Fox News the vaccination site employs 80 to 100 people from the theater community that were all laid off.

He said their former jobs ran the gamut from actors, singers, dancers, stagehands, ushers, ticket takers, musicians. 

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“They really haven’t worked in a long time and we were able to hire them and hire a lot of them. So it’s been amazing. Every single person at the site that’s not clinical is from the theater community,” he explained.

The site is administering about five hundred vaccines a day and it’s been open since April 12. Savitsky called Sampliner “unbelievable” at her job. “We were really lucky to have found her,” he added. 

Sampliner said the experience of running the site has been “really inspiring.”

Some shows such as "Frozen" will not be returning to Broadway.

Some shows such as “Frozen” will not be returning to Broadway.
(Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

“Everybody is so enthusiastic. The industry people are so happy to be working again and so happy to be doing something to help the theater industry come back,” she said. “I have always wanted to get involved more with what can we do about the pandemic and what can we do to help reopen. So this was the perfect opportunity.”

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Sampliner is also confident about Cuomo’s reopening agenda. 

“I’m feeling very good about coming back in September because I’m with ‘Wicked.’ I know we’re going to be one of the first ones to come back, which I’m excited about. We’ve been working throughout this pandemic and getting prepared for that with marketing meetings, production meetings, theater meetings about how to come back,” she revealed.

So far, Sampliner described how the shows will start with a “rolling opening” with maybe six or eight shows a week with the aim of a full schedule by the 2021 holidays season. She also anticipates audiences at 100% capacity inside.

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“We’re putting all kinds of new systems in like contactless ticketing and other things and cleaning procedures, just to make sure the theater is spotless and it’s welcoming as it can be to our audiences,” she said. 

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