Coronavirus News: COVID-19 stimulus bill has provision to help Broadway

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by the Senate amid the coronavirus pandemic includes a boost in unemployment pay, but a key provision of the bill covers those with a firm promise of employment, and that is expected to help Broadway, which went dark two weeks ago.

The Great White Way has been shuttered, and while hits like Hamilton will surely survive, other shows and members of the casts face an uncertain future.

"Not all of us are movie stars," Hamilton cast member Ryan Vasquez said. "Not all of us are so well paid that we are weathering this easily. We are not. Most of us are living check to check."

Kate Shindle is president of Actors Equity, and her union lobbied Congress for a provision that covers anyone who "was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job."

"One of the things that is unique about our industry is that we don't just work on jobs we already have," she said. "We plan and budget around shows that are coming up, and so many of them have just gone up in smoke."

Eugenio Vargas had a project that was set to start in May.
"I found out the production was cancelled 24 hours before the provisions of the bill were made clear," he said.

Now, the lifeline Congress extended was a relief.

"Suddenly realizing that I would be able to get assistance until things sorted themselves out, it was the highest high and the lowest low right next to each other," Vargas said.

Like so many others, he is facing an unprecedented situation. This year's Tony Awards honoring Broadway's best, scheduled for June 7, has been postponed in just one more indication the old saying that "the show must go on" isn't true -- at least not right now.

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