(CBS Local)-- The past year and a half has been one of the most challenging times for Don Darryl Rivera and his family. The actor and his wife are both performers on Broadway and they weren't able to do what they love or provide for their family through their work on the stage because the pandemic shut down Broadway. Rivera is one of the many people interviewed about this time in a new documentary CBSN called "Ghost Light: The Year Broadway Went Dark."
The documentary shines a light on how Broadway's workers kept hope alive when their entire industry went dark, how they adjusted and how excited they are for the return of their shows. CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith spoke with Rivera about the biggest challenges he faced, his journey as Iago in the Broadway production of "Aladdin" and how he became a real estate agent during the pandemic.
"Ghost Light: The Year Broadway Went Dark" streams on CBSN Thursday, September 16 at 9pm EST/PST.
"Tuesday night was the reopening of The Lion King and I got to be in the audience," said Rivera. "It was incredibly magical. The energy coming from New York City and the people sitting in the audience was incredible. I am just over the moon and thrilled for me, my friends and my family to bring theater back to the people and bring Broadway back to New York City."
Viewers of the documentary will be able to hear from actors, theater workers, composers and producers who were all impacted by Broadway being shut down. While Rivera was able to pivot to real estate and provide for his family in that way, the last year and a half has been one of the most difficult times in his life.
"I'm the original Iago in Disney's Aladdin, so I've been with the show since 2014 when we opened on Broadway," said Rivera. "This show has been a part of my life for a long time and to not have it, my life here on the East Coast has literally only revolved around the show. When we shut down, it was devastating. I have a 5-year-old at home and my wife also works on Broadway and we weren't used to putting our daughter to sleep at night. The babysitter would come and tuck her in on weeknights and weekend nights and all of the sudden we had these silver linings. The struggles were real. It was a really strange adjustment."
Rivera says he was initially counting the days he was not on stage and not performing. He changed his mindset and focused on the hope of returning to the stage one day. The actor will get the opportunity to do that when "Aladdin" reopens on Broadway later this month.
"People want to see Broadway and we are so hungry to give it to them," said Rivera. "That relationship of having audiences and being able to tell stories again, it made the hope 1000% real."
Download the CBS News app and watch the documentary Thursday night at 9pm EST/PST on CBSN.
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