LIFESTYLE

When Broadway Went Dark, Two Strangers Found Love

Since receiving a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from State University of New York at New Paltz in 2014, Ms. Bonnick, 30, has worked in theater. In 2016, she had her big break as the production assistant for “Hadestown” at the show’s Off Broadway debut at New York Theater Workshop. She went on to work on shows like “The Cherry Orchard,” “Caroline, or Change” and, more recently, “Sweeney Todd.” But several months into the pandemic, she was wondering if her career in theater was over. All she could think, she said, was “I’ve spent five years investing in something that doesn’t exist anymore.”

She was facing challenges on a personal level as well. In late spring 2020, Ms. Bonnick’s maternal grandfather, Joseph Johnson, died, and in August, her paternal grandfather, Keith Bonnick, also died. The Black Lives Matter protests that began in late May raised difficult emotions for Ms. Bonnick. And she and her roommate found out on short notice that they had to move out of their apartment.

Mr. McDonnell, 28, who received a bachelor’s degree in theater from Brooklyn College in 2017, had held on to his job for the New York Theater Workshop when the pandemic began. He is currently working full time as a security guard at Madison Square Garden.

That summer, he faced a major health scare. “I had a massive tumor growing along the side of my jaw,” he said. “It started the size of a pea and by summer it was the size of a golf ball. I started going for tests. In mid-August, I had surgery to remove it.” When he went in for a follow-up, the doctors told him that the lump had been an extremely rare form of cancer called secretory carcinoma. “Luckily it was a clean removal,” he said.

Also that summer, Mr. McDonnell’s grandfather on his father’s side, James McDonnell, died, an event that deeply affected his family.

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