Why ‘Cost of Living’ Is on the Broadway Forefront

For the actor Gregg Mozgala, his Broadway debut in “Cost of Living” isn’t just a step forward for him — it’s a step forward for all of Broadway.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

“We’re on the forefront of something,” he said on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety’s theater podcast, in a conversation with his co-star Kara Young. Mozgala, who has cerebral palsy, is one of two disabled performers who play disabled characters in playwright Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. “The fact that we are embodying these characters who have physical disabilities on Broadway — for aeons the practice has been to cast non-disabled actors in disabled roles. That kind of erasure and symbolic annihilation is something we have just been dealing with forever.”

He added, “My body onstage is a radical experimental act.”

In “Cost of Living,” Mozgala plays John, a Princeton graduate student, opposite Young (a Tony nominee for “Clyde’s”) as his caregiver, Jess. Young said she also finds a highly personal resonance in her own role in the show.

“The first-generation American experience can be very universal: what hard work means, what survival means, what it means to feel like you have a great responsibility to take care of your own in a way that it really does fall on your shoulders to uplift and continue legacy in some kind of way,” Young said. “The story of survival, you know?” With her performance, she explained, “I’m trying to honor this very real person that represents a lot of us first-gen Americans in this country.”

On the new episode of “Stagecraft,” Young and Mozgala talk through the process of staging the intimate details of caregiving, including making sure the onstage shower’s water is warm. They also revealed two places members of the cast were likely to be seen hanging out: the accessible, first-floor dressing room built by the production’s crew in the Friedman Theatre’s wing — and the sidewalk outside the theater after a show.

“We were joking last night at the stage door,” Mozgala laughed. “Everyone’s gone, and we’re hanging out on 47th street for like an hour talking to each other!”

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.

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