A talented group usually seen on the Great White Way headed to Brooklyn Monday to use a set of skills they're not usually known for. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
Armed with a compactor and shovels, scrapers and paintbrushes, a group of Broadway's best went to work off-Broadway: Way off. Theater directors, actors, producers and writers all traveled to Bedford-Stuyvesant to take on the role of construction worker Monday as they helped Habitat for Humanity build affordable homes for New Yorkers.
"To feel like we're making a physical difference in someone's life is a great thing," said Actor Andrew Keenan-Bolger.
This is the first time the Broadway community has teamed up with Habitat New York City. The event was called Broadway Builds and the dozens who took part say this role is not such a stretch.
"Most of us have done Summer Stock in the past and have built sets and have painted sets and so it feels a little bit like that," said Actress Laura Linney.
Typically, Monday is a day off for the talented group but they came together at 386 Jefferson Avenue to help turn a four story building into eight condos. It's one of 79 buildings in the area that Habitat New York City is renovating.
"We're identifying vacant and dilapidated buildings and some that are in pre-foreclosure and saying we want to transform and strengthen this community by revitalizing these particular buildings," said Rachel Hyman of Habitat for Humanity of New York City.
The goal is to finish 100 homes in Brooklyn by 2014, most of which are located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill and Brownsville. Helping the theater team was NY1's own theater team of Frank DiLella, Roma Torre and Donna Karger.
"The fact that this is New York City and this is what we do for a living, we want to enhance the lives of New Yorkers," Torre said.
The homes will go to families who demonstrate a need for affordable housing and have also worked on them as part of their sweat equity. Broadway Builds says it will play its part by making it an annual event.
"It just feels the best. It's addictive," said Actress and Event Organizer Emily Bergl.
The home is scheduled to be completed in November with the new families moving in in the new year.