Written by: Ryan McPhee
The arts and culture industries remain largely at a standstill in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, affecting millions of workers in an already delicate ecosystem. The Broadway Community Project, from industry veterans Greg Schaffert, Tiffani Gavin, Situation Interactive, and Playbill, was developed to shed light on the myriad fields and roles that go into making the curtain rise.
In the Broadway Community Project series, we shine a spotlight on the faces you may not see on stage, but are nevertheless critical in creating and maintaining a theatre production. These are just some of the arts workers who have put their stamp on an industry that contributed over $14.7 billion to the New York economy in 2019 and $877 billion in value added nationally; these are just some of the arts workers in need of relief as theatres slowly start to welcome back audiences.
Today, meet Jesse Galvan, a wardrobe supervisor who’s worked on such Broadway shows as On Your Feet!, The 39 Steps, and Looped. Once the costume designer has completed their work, it falls on Galvan to maintain the designer’s vision for the show, ensure pieces are clean and in good condition throughout the rigorous performance schedule, and oversee a team of dressers, laundry personnel, and stitchers. Galvan is a member of the Theatrical Wardrobe Union IATSE Local 763, as well as Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA.
Name: Jesse Galvan
Title: Wardrobe Supervisor
How did you get your start as a wardrobe supervisor?
Like so many, I started my theatrical career as an actor. Throughout my training I picked up skills in the costume shop. Many of my actor friends knew I had those skills because I would do alterations or build items for many of them. One of my actor friends connected me with a prominent regional theatre that needed some help in the wardrobe department for a particular show. A year later, I was a wardrobe supervisor on Broadway.
What’s your professional life like during the coronavirus pandemic?
The pandemic has hit our community really hard. My professional life is basically nonexistent. I have been able to do a little work in TV. But I look forward to being back with the Broadway community. There is nothing like it!
What are some of your favorite shows you’ve worked on?
The 39 Steps will always be very special because it was my first show. It was such a wonderful company to work with. On Your Feet! was also very special because I got to work with a wonderful group of amazingly talented Latin artists telling a story that represented our community.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in your field?
Learn as much of everything as you possibly can. A good attitude will take you far. Observe, listen, and learn. Always remember that the theatre is a community—a team working towards a common goal. Every job is important.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the theatre community?
I get to work among elite theatre professionals in all areas of expertise. It means that I get to work with the most supportive, encouraging, accepting, and embracing community of artists.