Photo: Madeleine Thompson
Zoraida Rodriguez keeps the Great White Way elegant and welcoming
BY MADELEINE THOMPSON
Zoraida Rodriguez wasn’t that into plays and musicals until she started working as a theater cleaner. After 12 years on the job, though, she has seen just about everything that’s come to Broadway. She has worked at theaters up and down the Great White Way, changing locations as shows close and new ones open. Some favorites include “Cinderella,” “Sister Act” and “Shrek.”
“Sometimes people are like, ‘how did they do this?’ and I’m like, ‘I know what’s going on backstage,’” she says of her unique access to behind-the-scenes magic. She recently started working at the Bernard Jacobs Theater on West 45th Street, where Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman” just opened.
Rodriguez came to New York City from the Dominican Republic in 2005 and now lives in New Jersey with her 23-year-old daughter. She is especially proud of her two children and her granddaughter, who she loves taking to the playground on her days off. Rodriguez and her family like to go to dinner and movies. They also travel to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to visit Amish communities.
“They have a theater, so they do plays. It’s amazing,” she says. “I’ve seen many shows on Broadway but those are beautiful. They use real animals.”
Rodriguez is also an active volunteer for 32BJ and has served as a shop steward. “I like to participate in meetings, phone banks; if I’m available I like to do it,” she says.
The hardest part of her job, Rodriguez says, is fitting in all these things around her unusual hours. After working mornings she returns to the theater around 9 p.m. to clean after the show, so she often returns home late. But she loves her coworkers, whom she knows from jobs at other theaters. She also enjoys having conversations with people buying tickets about which shows are good and what to do around the city. “Sometimes we get into conversations about different plays, the city, the restaurants,” she says. “I like what I do.”