My Career Was Just Beginning When Broadway Went Dark

I have to believe I’ll return to Broadway

Mai Tran
Published in
5 min readSep 24, 2020


Photo illustration. Source: Noam Galai/Getty Images

The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.

Shanel Bailey, 22, is an actor who made her Broadway debut in The Book of Mormon in 2019. She spoke with Mai Tran about watching her promising career stall as Broadway remains closed.

I was in the show The Book of Mormon and I was an onstage swing and principal understudy. I covered the four ensemble females and understudied the lead role, and I also had a small part that was on stage every night throughout parts of the show. It’s a lot of hats sometimes, but that’s what keeps it fun and interesting.

When we shut down in March, I was literally on my way to a rehearsal. When I got to the theater, the stage manager told us to go home. They said it was just for a month, so if we needed anything we should come and grab it. If not, we could leave it there. So I got my stuff and went home thinking, “It’s a month. It’ll be fine, I’ll be back.” Now there are still things in the dressing room I haven’t seen in six months, and won’t see again for gosh knows how long. Initially, we all thought, “This could actually be a good thing,”…