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 Josh Breckenridge, part of the company of the Tony-nominated Come From Away, now on hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic. The actor was also seen on Broadway in the revival of Terrence McNally’s The Ritz and in John Kander and Fred Ebb's Tony-nominated The Scottsboro Boys as well as in the first national tour of The Book of Mormon. Breckenridge was featured in the San Francisco debut of the stage musical version of Tales of the City, and his screen credits include The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and FBI. This summer, he will release his debut album of all-original music, Monotony, on Red Card Records May 28. His third single from that album, “Home Is Where the Art Is,” was recently released on various streaming platforms.
What is your typical day like now?
Typically it’s wake up, coffee, check the news/emails, ukulele and guitar lesson, read a little, and then check off whatever task I’ve set for the day. I’m such a type A, get it done, ADHD kid at heart that I can’t sit still and do the whole couch potato-zone-out-binge watch thing. I mean I have my fave shows I catch up on, but I always need to do more, learn more, achieve more—sometimes to my detriment. LOL
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
Book: A Promised Land (Barack Obama). TV show: Your Honor (Showtime). Podcast: Griefcast (Cariad Lloyd). Film: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
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?
I would love folks to simply listen. Listen to the stories. Listen to the experiences. Listen to the traumas, joys, dilemmas, the life of BIPOC, especially in the work place. No belittling. No “I’ve had it bad, too.” Just open ears and hearts. There’s a lot of clean up that needs to be done, and it all can all be tackled if people make the actual choice to listen.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Set goals. Hone a hobby. Make tiny steps toward a pipe dream. We don’t have to cure cancer during this crazy time of stillness, but staying active helps stave off the insanity!
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
What kept me creative? My passion project turned childhood dream come true! My debut album! I’ve always dreamed of my own record, and Rona has paved the way for it to come to fruition (one of the few pros in a sea of cons caused by COVID). In the first two months of the Broadway shutdown, I wrote about 12+ songs. I was on a roll, and eventually thought, “I’ve got a record here. Emotions of the moment stemmed from hours of isolation.” My debut album, Monotony, reflects the many colors of feeling, or chords of passions people whirl through when stagnant and solo. I’ve been enjoying the steady roll-out singles, but I can’t wait for folks to hear the thing!
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I’ve been really blessed to be busy during this time off. In the fall I got the opportunity to be a part of one of the first on stage productions to surface with TheaterWorksUSA's We the People. We rehearsed via Zoom and eventually in a CDC-approved tent outside Paper Mill Playhouse. All in about two weeks time! We filmed the production for an educational outlet for schools. With no more field trips to see shows, TheaterWorksUSA and director Gordon Greenberg had the brilliant idea to bring this tribute to our Founding Fathers and the Constitution to the kids! It was awesome, and I got to wear a colonial wig! The fall was the gift that kept giving as I then got to do two guest TV roles on NBC’s The Blacklist and CBS’ Blue Bloods, respectively. The year has been full of readings, online concerts, and teaching opportunities that have gratefully kept me in the game.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
The Actors Fund! For sure! We have so much at our fingertips there between financial support and guidance, mental health resources, and so much more! I seriously am in awe of all they do and continue to do over there. The Actors Fund has saved me more times and in more ways than I can count over the years.