By Matt Smith . . . . .
And now, we’ve reached the end (Maybe? Perhaps? For now? We’ll see…). In wrapping up the second edition of our Quarantine Questionnaire series, we’re once again peeling back the curtain on our participants, looking at how this lengthy pause has shaped, shifted and changed their perspectives on life post-pandemic. It’s forced them to face hard truths and do away with old viewpoints, while shedding light on the prospect of “reinvention,” in some cases birthing new, fresh dreams in the process. From a greater appreciation for the digital environment to a reinvigorated zest for life and time with friends and family, our panel left it all on the table… and it’s all here for you to scroll through as you please! Enjoy, as you can with any of our previous surveys; we hope they make you happy and hopeful as we navigate this tricky time in our lives. But remember, as tumultuous as it has been, we’re almost there. There is light at the end of the tunnel. After all, it’s #onlyintermission, and the lights — beckoning us back to our seats — might just be ready to flash again real soon.
How do you feel this time in quarantine has changed you personally?
Christina Bianco (Funny Girl; Me, Myself and Everyone Else): If there’s one positive thing that’s come from this pandemic, it’s that it’s given me some long-overdue quality time with my husband and my dog. I had been away from home 10 out of 12 months last year, and almost the same for three years prior. I love what I do, but I will no longer say “yes” to everything. I need my sanity, my home and my family. This quarantine has shown me that I need to have — and will aim to find — a better balance moving forward.
Todd Buonopane (The Play That Goes Wrong, #BathtubTheatre, #FridgeSongs): I will never leave a party early again! I want to savor every ounce of social time that I can get. I miss you all! Seriously! I can’t wait to hug my closest friends and make new ones. I crave human connection! So look out, ‘cause post-COVID, I will be the neediest fella at every theatre event in town.
Kevin Chamberlin (Seussical, Disaster!, Wicked, Ratatouille): I’m never going to take anything for granted anymore. And I’m going to be more prepared for any future work stoppage.
LaVon Fisher-Wilson (Chicago, Newsies, SuperYou): It’s made me appreciate teachers more! They are superheroes! I have always had respect for them, but when put directly in their shoes… I think they deserve double their pay! By the time I drag my daughter through her lessons, stop my youngest son from sneaking away and doing TikTok videos, and getting my oldest off the Nintendo switch, all during online school hours, I am DEAD TIRED at the end of the day! I don’t know how these teachers do it — and with a smile on their faces! I will never take them for granted again!
Kelsey Fowler (Grey Gardens, Mary Poppins, Bonnie & Clyde): A few new dreams have been birthed in quarantine… many of which have the potential to change the course of my life.
Jenn Gambatese (Mrs. Doubtfire): This time has given me so much clarity about what is most important in my life: family, friends, creating.
Michael James Leslie (The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors, Barrow Street Sweeney Todd): I clearly understand how short life is.
Bobbi MacKenzie (School of Rock: The Musical): Quarantine has definitely changed me for the better. It has been shoved in my face that tomorrow is not promised, and it’s definitely heightened my way of thinking and [making] decisions. It’s been a struggle, but I am trying to not waste time on things that do not need to be looked at. I’m just trying to be better.
Michael J. Moritz, Jr. (Hadestown, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, On the Town): I’ve loved the forced slow-down. It’s allowed me so much more time at home with my fiancé. We’ve both worked at home since March. While I miss travel, I’m very much looking forward to continuing to adjust the work/life balance when we all return.
Graham Montgomery (Kinky Boots, The King and I National Tour): Quarantine has given me a lot of time to think and grow as a friend, a son, and as a person altogether. I’ve had time to get my priorities together and have been able to just sit and cherish the unforgettable experiences I have been gifted.
Donna Vivino (Les Misérables, Wicked, Cats): I am never going to feel like I have to straighten my hair to feel beautiful ever again!
Cori Wilson (School of Rock: The Musical): The quarantine, as devastating as it was — and is — has almost been a blessing in disguise for me. I found a new love for crocheting, had more time to play bass, spent more time with my family before my sister left for college, grew closer with certain friends, and developed an inner strength that I never knew I had. I grew mentally and emotionally in immeasurable ways throughout quarantine. As I now approach my 18th birthday in July, and after a year+ in quarantine, I feel almost entirely different from the 16-year-old who entered this pandemic, and it’s great.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while in quarantine, perhaps that you’ll take with you ou when the pandemic eventually ends?
Christina Bianco: Do the little things that make you happy and keep you grounded. Many of us are usually living in a constant state of work and hustle and we feel guilty when we aren’t productive. During this pandemic, lots of people keep telling us what we should be doing to improve ourselves or stay “ready” – and that’s fine for some, but NOT for everyone. Don’t feel bad about how you cope. If doing two hours of work and then watching Zoolander keeps you sane and happy, then please do that. It’s been just as much a necessity for me to write and create video sketches as it has been to listen to comedy audiobooks while baking.
Todd Buonopane: I’ve learned that the internet doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I came to New York before social media and YouTube were a big thing. I used to be embarrassed by YouTube videos, Instagram stories, etc. But I’ve changed my tune. #BathtubTheatre has given me purpose during this time. And as performers, we must embrace the world we live in and share our art however we can.
Kevin Chamberlin: Creativity doesn’t have to die if you can’t leave your house. Keep writing, acting, producing and improving yourself as an artist.
LaVon Fisher-Wilson: I’ve learned how valuable time with your family and your kids are. When I am in shows around the world or on Broadway it is definitely a blessing, but I miss the holidays, milestones, and family moments. I have been able to give my kids more quality time, share precious moments with my family members, and take the time to keep them safe.
Kelsey Fowler: Articulating what you need is important and people who love you are willing to listen.
Jenn Gambatese: Every day is actually a gift, so focus on creating a life that brings you simple joys and lean in to unwrapping the present of the present moment.
Michael James Leslie: Success in life is not how you feel about yourself…but how you feel about others.
Bobbi MacKenzie: The biggest lesson that I have learned in quarantine is to not take anything for granted and to cherish your loved ones.
Michael J. Moritz, Jr.: The need to reinvent and adapt is so very important. I always try to find time to continue to learn new things. I’ve loved seeing so many friends pivot into new areas of the business and excel at it.
Graham Montgomery: There are so many things that we all as a society take for granted, such as the time we can spend with each other. You don’t really think about how grateful you are to be able to go out and surround yourself with the people you love until you can’t anymore. From now on, I will always tell everyone that I hold close to me how much I love and appreciate them.
Donna Vivino: That you really only have a few true friends and that is more than enough.
Cori Wilson: That there is an inevitability to life and a certain amount of trust and flexibility that is required of you in order to not crumble under the pressure of change. I can choose to respond by simply giving up because it’s not exactly what’s expected, or I can attempt to adapt to the new situation and persevere, using the experience to grow instead of getting beaten down. No one could’ve ever predicted the onset of this pandemic and even now, there’s still so many unknowns that continue to leave me scared, nervous and on my toes. However, through this past year, I’ve learned to adjust and face the hardships head-on instead and accept that not everything will go as planned. I’ve also gotten to the point where I am now able to be excited for the unknown future, instead of shying away from it like I used to. So, bring it on!