As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are coping with the self-isolation on a daily basis, both physically and creatively.
The series continues with actor-director Evan Pappas, who is the artistic director of the Argyle Theatre in Babylon Village, Long Island. Pappas' directorial credits include Off-Broadway’s A Letter to Harvey Milk at The Acorn Theater, Liberty (Theatre 80 and 42West), Wonderful Town and DuBarry Was a Lady (both for Musicals Tonight!), Evita, West Side Story, Kiss Me, Kate, and The Daughter of the Regiment (for Opera North), The Color Purple and Sister Act (for Arts Center of Coastal Carolina), and Funny Girl and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (for San Francisco’s Broadway By the Bay). On Broadway he was seen in Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s My Favorite Year, Jason Robert Brown’s Parade, Putting It Together (opposite Carol Burnett), and A Chorus Line. His Off-Broadway credits include Cafe Society Swing and I Can Get It for You Wholesale; in London, Pappas starred in two Stephen Sondheim classics, Follies and Merrily We Roll Along.
What is your typical day like now?
Ah, the typical day. Sleeping in is nice. Though directing is my world now, I’m still on an actor’s schedule (old habits die hard), so don’t get to bed until 2 AM or so (damn you, Golden Girls and Frasier!). When I finally drag my ass out of bed, it’s coffee and the NY Times crossword puzzle and this other great game called Spelling Bee, which I’m addicted to (in the NY Times again). I love to see what’s happening on social media and catch up with friends. Now that The Argyle Theatre in Babylon, Long Island, where I’m artistic director, is at “intermission,” I’ve become something of a hausfrau. I’m cleaning a lot, and Chef Ev has re-emerged! I have a great Greek chicken recipe, for anyone interested. And a puttanesca to die for. Daily online Gin Rummy with my best friend Tia Speros. She wins. I’m loving the occasional Zoom cocktail hour with family and friends. (Why, oh why, didn’t I invest in Zoom?) At 7 PM we applaud the service workers from our balcony, a most meaningful moment of the day. Then it’s dinner, mindless TV and one (OK, two) martinis shaken, not stirred.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
I’m hunkered down with my partner and niece, who had just moved to NYC to start her acting career, but got stuck with us instead (yes, ladies and gentlemen, timing is everything!). We’ve been binge watching old seasons of Top Chef, loving RuPaul’s Drag Race and Making the Cut, lamenting the end of Schitt’s Creek (why did you leave us?!), and taking advantage of the theatre that PBS and NT Live are offering. I try not to watch the news but am not always successful. Besides, my yelling at the TV disturbs the neighbors. Stars in the House, that my old pal Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley have created for The Actors Fund, just makes me smile. It’s so damn good. Please everyone, donate to them and Broadway Cares.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation?
I’ve been through some pretty rough physical and emotional times in my life and career, and what I do know is that, in the end, we theatre people just heal quicker. It’s in our DNA. So…this too shall pass, and we shall emerge stronger and with a clearer sense of what matters. These are unprecedented times and whatever you’re feeling, you must know that everyone else is feeling pretty much the same. You’re not alone. Try to take solace in that. So, check in on old friends, they’ll love hearing from you. And, again, the 7 PM celebration of our service workers is good for the soul.
How are you keeping your creative juices flowing?
I get so inspired by watching old students, friends, and actors whom I’ve never met but am a fan of doing their living room and bathtub performances online. I’m constantly amazed at the talent and creativity out there.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
Like a lot of us, I had many directing gigs canceled. Along with my theatre’s needs, I was about to start tech for The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Manhattan School of Music, with old chums Liza Gennaro and David Loud, before moving on to Kinky Boots at The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. Needless to say, it all came to a screeching halt. The young actors at MSM are so terrific and talented, it broke my heart that we got so far and then…BOOM! We’re still trying to proceed with both shows, hopefully in the fall, fingers crossed. As for my theatre, we’re making what plans we can to get The Argyle back up and running. Our stunning set for Cabaret is still in situ, and I imagine my friends and colleagues running the show every night, like the ghosts in Follies, keeping the flame of theatre alive. That gives me hope and keeps me going.