Like many Sydney couples, Zoe Gertz and Phillip Lowe have just emerged from lockdown, with both their jobs put on hold for almost four months due to coronavirus.
However, returning to work won’t quite be the same escape after weeks stuck at home together – because they have the same job.
Both are actors in one of Sydney’s biggest musicals, Come From Away, which reopens next week after missing around 120 shows.
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“It’s actually kind of bonded us a bit more to be honest,” Gertz told 9News.com.au.
“I would have moments where I was feeling quite depressed and Pip was like ‘we’re going to go for a run.’
“Likewise if he was having a dark day, my thing is more cooking and baking and I’d be like, ‘all right, what do you want me to make?’
“We’re a great source of comfort to each other.”
Luckily, despite all that food, there has not been too much pressure from costume bosses on the show to make sure their costumes still fit.
“I remember seeing a message from the head of wardrobe,” Mrs Gertz, said.
“They were like, ‘You know what, be kind to yourself during this time… we’ve got your back.”
The couple are well versed in lockdowns – it’s the fourth time the show has been shut down – twice in Melbourne and once in Brisbane, with the cast spending a year furloughed around the nation in total.
Luckily this time the couple were in their home city with their dog, Banjo – other cast members have been stuck away from home.
The show is a touching real-life story about about a tiny Canadian town where dozens of planes were rerouted on 9/11.
Around 7000 confused and scared airline passengers were stranded in Gander, Newfoundland for almost a week.
While actors take multiple roles, Mrs Gertz’s main part is airline captain Beverley, while Mr Lowe plays a British businessman, Nick, who falls in love with a fellow passenger.
The couple were still paid throughout lockdown, but said many of their friends who work in the arts have been “forgotten” when it comes to financial help from governments.
“There’s so many people in our industry that have slipped through the cracks, and it’s really heartbreaking,” Mrs Gertz said.
Mr Lowe admitted it would be big moment when the curtain rises again on Wednesday – especially for some cast members who have just joined the company from Broadway and have not performed since that shutdown in March 2020.
“It’s going to be emotional,” he said.
The show’s producer, Rodney Rigby, said the Sydney closure just a few weeks after the show opened was “devastating.”
“Our box office was just starting to take off and we were shut down,” he told 9News.com.au.
However, he said he was grateful the NSW Government had given them some financial support.
The company was also the first to announce a vaccine mandate for cast and crew, who, since rehearsals resumed are also tested for coronavirus three times a week and wear masks while off stage.
Like all shows in the city, audiences must prove they’re vaccinated and ‘check in’.
Mr Rigby said they can’t wait to get started again.
“I think it’s going to be pretty exciting,” he said. “We need to tell stories on stage.”
Musical fans have plenty to look forward too now Sydney is reopening.
Big hit Hamilton also returns to the stage next Tuesday while new musical Jagged Little Pill, based on the songs of Alanis Morrissette will finally open in December at the revamped Theatre Royal after the September launch was cancelled by lockdown.
A rescheduled Phantom of the Opera – one of two versions of that musical soon to be staged in Sydney – will finally open at the Opera House next year, with Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 also on its way to the city.
Come From Away reopens at Sydney’s Capital Theatre on Oct 20 and runs until Dec 12 before opening in Canberra on Feb 3, 2022.