by Mo Brady
The longer a theatrical company works together, the stronger their familial bond becomes. So is the experience of Dave MacAaron, widely known to theatre fans by his Instagram handle, DavyMackNYC. “We are able to be creative together and come up with fun ideas for shots that really showcase who they are and their talents,” says MacAaron.
A man of many talents, MacAaron has worked as an actor and street photographer, in addition to his full-time gig as a doorman on Broadway. While one of his side hustles includes video production, combining those worlds to take photographs backstage at the Broadhurst only started a few years ago.
It began in 2013, when the Broadhurst was home to the Tom Hanks-helmed Lucky Guy. Tony Award nominee Courtney Vance had been documenting the show with backstage photos throughout the Awards season. But on the night of that year’s Tony Awards, MacAaron began shooting photographs of the company’s Tony party while Vance was at the ceremony. “I offered to take photos until Courtney arrived, but when he did he told me to just keep shooting,” remembers MacAaron. “I shot the rest of the evening and ended up doing a behind-the-scenes short film for Lucky Guy's final day.”
Since Lucky Guy, MacAaron has shot backstage photographs with the companies of Mamma Mia, Misery, Tuck Everlasting, The Front Page, and now Anastasia. Outside of the Broadhurst Theatre, MacAaron has also shot actors backstage at Dear Evan Hansen, The Phantom of the Opera, Hello, Dolly!, and Come From Away.
Chronicling life backstage has also been an opportunity to showcase the work of these production’s costume designers. His photos have become celebrations of the work of these Tony nominees and winners, including Gregg Barnes for Tuck Everlasting and Linda Cho for Anastasia. “I like the juxtaposition of very fancy, beautiful clothing and the older, bare backstage area,” he reveals.
While MacAaron has become the industry expert at capturing photographs of life backstage on Broadway, the circumstances continue to provide challenges. The quick pace of a Broadway show means MacAaron has limited time to get a shot. “We grab what we can,” MacAaron admits. “Luckily, I am working with so many pros, so they know how to pose and often have a vision for the shot in mind.”
The actors working on the Broadhurst stage are just as in awe of MacAaron’s talents: He’s just the best,” says Kathryn Boswell, Anastasia company member. “Davy has such a generous spirit, and a true gift for making people feel special. It’s rare to get pictures backstage during a show in costume (let alone pictures worth framing!), and every single one he takes is worth putting on the wall.”
Not only is the actors’ time limited, MacAaron’s responsibilities as a doorman provide additional scheduling challenges. In order to have time to shoot, he will use a small window during his lunch break or will stay a few minutes after his shift. Otherwise, his sessions last less than a minute, as actors are rushing by his office to and from the Broadhurst stage.
Even in those quick moments, MacAaron is able to capture the energy of working backstage at the Broadhurst. “It's inspiring to be around so many talented performers each day,” he shares. “The longer a show is here at the theater, the better I get to know each member of the cast, and I hope that reflects in their photos.”