(NEXSTAR) – When Broadway went dark in March, Ben Bogen’s heart sunk.
He’d been out of full-time work for a few months by then, after an off-Broadway show he was performing in closed after a week run. But once the pandemic hit, he knew his chances of finding another theatre gig were slim-to-none.
“I was unemployed when the pandemic hit. None of it was really working out, and I was feeling really quite lost and not sure when my next gig would come. And then the pandemic hit,” the 27-year-old said from his New York City apartment.
Bogen has performed in the ensemble of Broadway’s “Frozen” and in the touring cast of “Jersey Boys,” for which he understudied the role of Frankie Valli. He’s played countless roles in regional theatre productions, including “Mamma Mia” and “Mary Poppins.” But even an impressive resume doesn’t cut it when theaters are closed, their curtains drawn.
But Bogen remains upbeat. He recently signed a freelance contract with an agent and filmed a new reel.
And in the meantime, he’s making it work by teaching master classes through Broadway Plus, a virtual program that connects artists with students online and working on-call at Lululemon.
“I’ve taught at colleges, dance studios and recently taught a master class in Raleigh,” he said.
It’s helped that he has a large network, who throw him jobs as they arise. But the lack of performance is taking a toll.
“How I’m feeling is a day-to-day thing,” he said. “It used to be when I was having a bad day, I’d go see a show and find some inspiration. It’s amazing how much the theater heals and realizing I don’t have that option right now, well it’s hard.”
“It’s hard feeling like this business that I worked so hard to be a part of doesn’t exist.”
Right now, he’s worried about “theater kids” like himself who don’t have an outlet like he did as a kid.
“As a kid, I couldn’t wait to go to rehearsal or perform in a show,” he said. “And right now, I can’t help thinking about all those kids who can’t do that thing.”
Still, Bogen remains hopeful, especially given the fact that some tv productions are allowed to continue filming in New York City. And, though he can’t share the details yet, he’s got a few projects in the works.
“I keep putting out to the universe that I hope someone will let me be a storyteller again in some capacity,” he said.