NEW YORK (Reuters) – Theater performers reunited in New York City’s Times Square on Friday for a live pop-up show, vowing to return to the stage a year after Broadway drew its curtains due to the pandemic.
The special event featured appearances by singers, dancers and actors including Broadway stars Matthew Broderick, Chita Rivera and Tamara Tunie, who were happy to see friends and perform before an audience again.
A collection of actors performed classic theater hits and an original song, “We Will Be Back,” with costumes from Broadway shows “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” “Six,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Wicked” also on display.
For Tony award winner Nikki M. James it was a joyous reunion. “It’s amazing to see all my friends, to see that we’re thriving and to know that we’re feeling really hopeful about our ability to bring theater back to New York really, really soon, safely.”
Last March the pedestrian numbers in Times Square fell from 365,000 people per day to 35,000 almost overnight, said acting president and chief operating officer of the Times Square Alliance, Tom Harris. Now, he said, the numbers are back up to 100,000 over the last few days.
“Broadway closing down was a tangible symbol of the beginning of this pandemic and how serious it was,” Harris said. “The return of Broadway will also mark the end of the pandemic, and all that we have learned from the pandemic.”
While it is estimated that theaters will not reopen until September, organizers said the day provided an opportunity to safely and ceremoniously come together on Broadway. The live and in-person special performance represented arts and culture workers, unions, and individuals who comprise the Broadway community.
Broderick, who was in rehearsals for a new production when the shutdown happened, said he felt like “Rip Van Winkle … waking up from a year of sleep. It’s a very, very strange feeling.”
“I’m sure, for everybody, for audiences too, it’s going to take a while to get back.”
(Reporting by Soren Larson, Alicia Powell; Writing by Diane Craft; Editing by Daniel Wallis)