Two Broadway actors, Mark Aldrich and Jimmy Ludwig witnessed live entertainment industry workers suffering throughout the pandemic that caused this NYC honey trap to close down completely and decided to do something about it.
Through their long time web series The Happy Hour Guys, they partnered with Gun Hill Brewing Company and have established the Curtain Up Beer Project raising money for The Actors Fund, a nonprofit that helps performing arts and arts organizations nationwide.
The Curtain Up project is a brewing collaboration with more than 65 plus other craft breweries in 14 states and Washington, D.C. Breweries are asked to donate proceeds from the special beer to The Actors Fund as well as a local arts group of their choosing to ensure that communities directly benefit from the project.
“We’re very happy to join the Happy Hour Guys once again to help our arts community,” said says David Lopez, co-founder, Gun Hill Brewing Company. “Live performance is a vital piece of NYC both culturally and economically. We look forward to more breweries joining and making Curtain Up throughout the year to help arts groups in communities nationwide and hopefully beyond.”
Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, the Happy Hour Guys led the creation of five beers with five different Broadway shows, including “Hamilton, Come From Away and Waitress.”
Gun Hill Brewing Company, creator of the first Broadway Brew Hamilton beer, has developed a Hazy IPA recipe for Curtain Up to be brewed and released by breweries throughout the country.
“Our industry has never faced anything like this,” said Mark Aldrich/The Happy Hour Guys. “The need grows with each passing month, which is why we expect the project to last throughout 2021. Our mission with Curtain Up was to create relief funding for our fellow arts workers – we’re thrilled The Actors Fund and Gun Hill Brewing Co. have jumped on board as well as our brewery partners across the U.S It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of just how vulnerable arts workers are and to start the conversation on how to repair that.”
Aldrich, who has been on Broadway for 12 years and starred in “Newsies and Ragtime,” spoke with the Bronx Times about the fundraiser. The Virginia native explained that the shutdown has been especially hard on actors. While some are doing virtual work, many have left the business all together.
According to Aldrich, the hope is partners like Gun Hill Brewing and other companies are able to help raise money for them during these trying times. While he hopes Broadway will reopen in the fall, Aldrich realizes it will not fix things overnight.
“They’ve (Gun Hill) been amazing,” he stressed. “They’ve been the best partners we could have hoped for.
A lot of people don’t realize that when Broadway is up and running full time it brought in more money into the city than all of the sports teams combined.”