As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with Marty Thomas, who has been seen on Broadway in Wicked, Xanadu, and The Secret Garden and Off-Broadway in My Big Gay Italian Wedding, Pageant, and A Loss of Roses. The recording artist, whose screen credits include Two Broke Girls and Grace & Frankie, has joined forces with Marissa Rosen on The Award Winning Holiday Album, which will be available December 5 on iTunes and to stream on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, and more. Tracks include “(Everybody's Waitin' for) the Man with the Bag,” “Puppies Are Forever,” and “There Is a Santa Claus."
What is your typical day like now?
Every day is a new opportunity to be creative. My partner and I try to stay home as much as possible with our dogs and just enjoy this window of time that we are able to spend so much time together. I try to work on some music every day, I'm taking a Spanish class, and working out with Jeffrey is always a highlight of the day. I do, however, try to honor how I'm feeling and embrace it. I've had down, depressed days, and I've had days that were fun and motivating. I'm a busy bee, so the more I can keep my brain active and find projects to work on, the better.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
My Octopus Teacher, a nature documentary really moved me. I've watched it several times throughout the pandemic, and it gets me every time. If you're looking for a time filler, I started Survivor at Season 1, Episode 1. I'm now in season 25 and won't run out of content anytime soon!
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
If the pandemic has created anything, it's a platform for conversation and understanding. I've learned so much from the Black Lives Matter movement and from my trans friends who are being offered room to share their perspectives. I have so much to learn, and I'm open to the process. I truly hope that entertainment at large continues on its current path of redefining what is marketable and what is honest. Art is supposed to reflect life. I love seeing music, television, and film look like the rainbow world that I know.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Reach out to people. You might be surprised at the support you receive. I asked for dog photos on Facebook (because I love dogs) a few days ago and got 14 phone calls and hundreds of texts asking if I'm OK and if I needed to talk. I also highly recommend looking into adopting a pet. My dogs have been such an intense support system for me. I had two already, and at the break of the quarantine, we started fostering dogs who needed temporary homes. We fell in love with a chihuahua/corgi mix named Sugar, and after a few weeks adopted her. One of the tracks from our holiday record, "Puppies Are Forever," is all about adopting pets for life, not just around the holidays only to surrender them when the newness wears off. I truly believe in the power of bonding with a pet —it's unconditionally comforting.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I've been trying to absorb as much new information as possible. I'm taking a self-guided music production class, and I was able to produce the majority of this new holiday album by myself at home! I've been collaborating with artists around the globe. It took me a few months to realize that I'm not the only one in quarantine. Every artist is at home, riding this out, and starving for a creative outlet. This pandemic has been awful, but I'm figuring out ways to turn it into art. Watch out for several collaborations from me in the new year with queer artists from around the world.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I've spent a lot of time putting pen to paper, doodling my ideas that I've never been able to find the time to sit and write down. Theatre in the traditional sense isn't happening right now, but art perseveres. Artists are all out there preparing for what the world looks like when we emerge from quarantine. We will be ready to entertain and tell the story, while we all find our new normal.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I adore the Ali Forney Center. It's an organization that strives to empower and protect LGBTQA+ teens who are struggling with homelessness. So many young people are forced out of their living situations, and the Ali Forney Center is a great place to donate when you want to help, but are unsure how.