Occasionally lost in the shuffle these last few months is plight of the theater industry. With live performances on hold, thousands of Broadway performers, stagehands and others have been out of work indefinitely since last March, with no end in sight.
Will a hazy IPA be a lifeline? The Curtain Up Beer Project aims to find out, and at least four Long Island breweries have created their own riffs on an "open-source" IPA as part of the nationwide initiative to raise money for the Actors Fund, local theaters and other arts organizations.
"I'm glad we could give back to Broadway. They definitely got hit hard," said Larry Goldstein, owner and brewmaster of Spider Bite Beer Co. in Holbrook, which will release its iteration of Curtain Up in late February. Goldstein said his version is less haze than the original, templated by the Bronx's Gun Hill Brewing Co. and proceeds will benefit the CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale.
Curtain Up began as a pre-pandemic effort called Broadway Beer created by two Broadway actors, Mark Aldrich and Jimmy Ludwig (aka "The Happy Hour Boys," their web-based show) that paired casts and crews of Broadway shows with breweries to produce beers for charity. After COVID-19 arrived, it evolved into Curtain Up, and 56 breweries in 11 states were on board so far, said Aldrich. "The bulk of production is happening now, or about to happen," he added. Breweries are encouraged to keep what they need and donate what they can to the Actors Fund and performing-arts organizations of their choosing.
Besides Spider Bite, Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. in Peconic, Destination Unknown Beer Co. in Bay Shore and Saint James Brewery in St. James all brewed versions of Curtain Up. At Destination Unknown, assistant general manager Larissa Clifford said proceeds from the beer, which sells for $18 per four-pack, will benefit the Argyle Theatre in Babylon. "Our version tastes sort of like lemon Pez candy," said Clifford.
At Saint James Brewery, co-owner Rachel Adams said one-fifth of the proceeds of Curtain Up will go toward and effort to revitalize the Calderone's St. James Theater. "We felt strongly about supporting the arts, and love that we can bring some of the proceeds close to home," said Adams. Their version, brewed by her husband Jamie, was released on Feb. 13 and costs $20 per four-pack.
Those who get their hands on a few versions of Curtain Up can take part in a virtual tasting event on March 27.