When Glinda the good witch piped the opening line of the hit Broadway musical Wicked, in her glittering dress and iconic bubble — “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?” — the audience erupted into a standing ovation.
It was the show’s first performance following Broadway’s longest shutdown in history due to the pandemic. Kristen Chenoweth, the show’s original Glinda, was there to welcome the audience, and Stephen Schwartz, the show’s composer and lyricist, was there for the final curtain call.
And Carrie Rachel Dean was in the audience, tears in her eyes.
“That show was almost like being at a rock concert,” Dean says. “The relief and the gratitude and the love was palpable in the house, that Broadway was back.”
Dean has played a real part in bringing, and keeping, Broadway back. She serves as director of on-site services for Mobile Health, an occupational health company partnering with many Broadway houses and shows to provide sufficient COVID-19 testing.
On a typical day, testing starts at 7 a.m. and goes into the evening. Dean manages texts and calls from her staff as well as Broadway performers, stagehands and other entertainment professionals. Each test result gets loaded into Mobile Health’s automated system.
“The result goes into a portal, and the COVID safety officer for the house or production has access to that portal to see their company’s results,” explains Dean, who has a background in nonprofit event planning. “We’ve definitely had moments where we’ll get a message from a stage manager: ‘I’m holding curtain. I need this result.’”
Dean also liaisons between Mobile Health and larger Broadway organizations like the Broadway League, which works with the unions to establish policies and regulations. Her work earned her a special services Tony Award submission by the Shubert Organization earlier this year.
“Right now, the positivity rate among our community testing is very low because testing works,” Dean says. “It’s been cool to see very clearly the impact we’re having because we’re able to let the show go on.”
For Dean, the show isn’t just business. It’s personal.
She grew up singing and acting at the Workshop Theatre in Columbia, South Carolina, which took her to the Big Apple for the first time — a trip she remembers as “pretty magical.” And at Clemson, Dean rekindled her love for the theater, all but double majoring in performing arts and political science. After years of singing, she’s getting her acting feet wet again through The Players NYC, a private social club founded in 1888 by Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth.
A lifelong performer and a New Yorker for decades, Dean says it’s hard to put into words what Broadway means to her and the city:
“I’m going to get choked up. It’s such a vital part of what makes New York, New York. We had this dark hole right at the center of us for two years, and then the lights came back on.”