Monday 19 October 2020

Keeping A Light Shining On Broadway

If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught us it’s that every ounce of security can be ripped away at a moment’s notice. One of the sectors that has been particularly hit is theatre and, as someone who was an actor for twenty years, it is devastating to see friends and ex-colleagues suddenly left with no means of financial support. However, in an industry where “the show must go on”, a Broadway duo has come up with an inventive way to provide income for themselves and also other abandoned creatives. We Light literally is a "light in the darkness” and their Cast Party Candle is helping to keep the Broadway spirit alive.

When American theatres started to close down it was hoped, just like in the UK, that this would be a temporary measure and normal service would be resumed fairly quickly. It soon became apparent however that this wasn’t going to happen. With casts and musicians placed on retainers there was still some financial support but, when the length of the closures became unviable, many had their contracts terminated. With all types of theatre effectively closed down it wasn’t even as if they could audition for a new role or position. They were literally left high and dry with no support, but still with bills to pay.

One such couple were New York based actor Kurt Phelan and Musical Director Lance Horne. With no income, and all future work cancelled, they hit upon the idea to use Kurt’s previous experience as a sommelier and candle maker. Combining the two talents resulted in a fantastic debut collection of three candles, but even they were surprised by the incredible response. To keep up with demand they enlisting the help of other performers, so the workforce literally became the “out of work-ers”. It gave everyone an income and a support network, but the question was whether it could also help to to keep Broadway alive?

Entertainment legend Jim Caruso has been running Cast Party at New York’s Birdland every Monday since 2003. This open mic night features up-and-coming performers alongside musical legends, and is the ultimate “after show” hangout. When venues were closed it was decided to take the show online and so, on 6th April, Pajama Cast Party began airing with an incredible line-up. To help support this, Kurt and Lance decided to collaborate with Jim on a candle that would help to cover some of the cost. So, by purchasing one, you'd be keeping Pajama Cast Party on the air and also providing a lifeline for out of work performers.

Kurt has cleverly managed to conjure up the atmosphere of Birdland along with poignant references to those silent Broadway theatres. You get the promised nod to a Cast Party gin and tonic, with a delicate cucumber note linking through to the juniper, but there’s also traces of theatrical powder and Leichner makeup. This slightly waxed aroma is then given a dusty warmth reminiscent of temporarily dimmed footlights but, just in the background, the scent of a distant rose hints that someone is waiting to take their seat. This candle's beautifully subtle aroma is like the fragranced ghost of past theatrical evenings. However, it also carries with it a promise that theatre will return as strong as ever.

The Cast Party Candle is available from the We Light website at priced at $30 for 340g. [All items featured in this article were purchased]

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