The lights went out on Broadway on March 12, 2020. On Friday, exactly one year after Broadway closed, members from the theater community gathered in Times Square to declare "we will be back." Through song and dance, some of Broadway’s best showed up in full force and full voice.
The event was directed by theater producer and director Holly-Anne Devlin and former editor-in-chief of Playbill Blake Ross.
"In New York State alone, $19 billion depends on the Broadway and arts economy, so we are absolutely essential workers," Devlin said. "And today, we are here to celebrate that and to show everybody that we need support and to celebrate our industry and hope that we can get the heartbeat back of New York City, which is all of these artists."
"This gathering is not optimal. It's not the way we want to be together. It's socially distanced, it's masked, it's not the way we're used to being together, but it's a little glimpse into what we have to look forward to," Ross said.
Actors Chita Rivera, Matthew Broderick, Joel Grey and more were on hand to raise their voices in support of the return of Broadway.
"It's too painful to even discuss," Grey said when I asked how much he misses the theater. "You know, the depth of loss is unfathomable."
When I asked Broderick to give New Yorkers a message of hope, he said, "Yes, well I think they should be hopeful. You can already feel it coming a little bit, and as long as everything stays going right health-wise, definitely the energy is all just pent up and ready to come back and explode."
"This gathering is giving me hope that people are paying attention and that we will be back. We have to come back," Lillias White said.
Actor Tamara Tunie was adamant that there is light at the end of the tunnel. \
"You are seeing it here today. We so look forward to being back. Broadway will be back!" Tunie said.
If Friday is any indication of what it’s going to be like when theaters do officially reopen, let’s just say there won’t be a dry eye in the house, yours truly included.