The arts and culture industries remain largely at a standstill in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, affecting millions of workers in an already delicate ecosystem. The Broadway Community Project, from industry veterans Greg Schaffert, Tiffani Gavin, Situation Interactive, and Playbill, was developed to shed light on the myriad fields and roles that go into making the curtain rise.
In the Broadway Community Project series, we shine a spotlight on the faces you may not see on stage, but are nevertheless critical in creating and maintaining a theatre production. These are just some of the arts workers who have put their stamp on an industry that contributed over $14.7 billion to the New York economy in 2019 and $877 billion in value added nationally; these are just some of the arts workers in need of relief legislation and recovery plans.
Today, meet Carolyn Chamberlain, a physical therapist whose face (and touch) might be familiar to many a theatre regular. Chamberlain works with cast members on both a scheduled and as-needed basis to prescribe exercise and provide hands-on care and education to prevent ongoing injuries and maintain mobility as they execute demanding, Broadway-style movement and choreography several times a week. Having worked on such shows as Legally Blonde and Peter and the Starcatcher, Chamberlain ensures the performers’ bodies remain in good health, whether they’re getting “whipped into shape” or fighting off pirates.
Click here to explore the Broadway Community Project map in full (or submit yourself to be added).
Name: Carolyn Chamberlain
Title: Physical/massage therapist
What are three skills a physical therapist must possess?
Humor, training, and quick thinking.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Working on a full cast between shows, with about 14 minutes per person.
The most rewarding?
Being trusted to get them healed and back out on stage.
What do you wish more people knew about physical therapy?
Physical therapy is not a luxury; it is critical to the health of these performers.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in your field?
Know your “why.” Your first goal is to be of use and value, not to try to manipulate your way into meeting celebrities. Show up with integrity and keep the joy. This community deserves authentic beings who strengthen the fabric. Take your space and own your gifts. That’s how you’ll make a difference. That’s how you’ll leave your mark.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the theatre community?
It’s food for the soul. Very few things can top getting to know these casts and add value to their lives, then watching the show from backstage and having them add value to mine.