With the return of Broadway performances, the cast and crew of blockbuster shows need to get their minds and bodies primed nearly 18 months after the COVID-19 pandemic forced New York City’s Theater District to go dark.
The planned September 14 reopening has sent cast members of Wicked hustling to prepare for their return—with many turning to NYU Langone’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in Manhattan to combat the physical and mental toll experienced since the stage lights dimmed on March 12, 2020.
“Harkness Center has helped me not just gain the physical strength but the mental capacity: ‘You’re fine, your body is strong, it has the muscle memory to do this,’” Wicked cast member Alex Aquilino, who started working toward his return three months ago, tells the New York Daily News. “Because sitting on your couch watching your 18th movie, you think, ‘What is my purpose? What am I doing?’”
David S. Weiss, MD, an orthopedic physician with the NYU Langone facility, compares the run-up to Broadway’s comeback to a training camp where professional athletes get back into game shape.
For the cast members, that means ramping up for a grueling schedule of eight shows a week.
Mark E. Hall, MSPT, a physical therapist at Harkness Center for Dance Injuries—Physical Therapy Clinic and a Broadway veteran who spent 11 years in the cast of Cats, says performers faced an assortment of issues during the shutdown.
“Separation from family and the quarantine situation led to a lot of depression and anxiety,” he says. “Show business is a big part of their life. Having that performing outlet taken away—that’s a big part of your identity. It can strip them of their self-worth.”
Read more from the New York Daily News.