Pop up events reignite Broadway

After one year of the curtain being closed, Broadway is slowly opening up

Abigail Manbeck, Writer

After over a year of being shut down because of the pandemic, Broadway is now slowly opening its doors to patrons and theater goers. Doors started to open Feb 20, 2021 at the Jacob Javits Center. Governor Andrew Cuomo said that theaters like the Music Box Theater, which currently houses the musical Dear Evan Hansen, will reopen April 2nd at 33% capacity. 100 people will be allowed indoors and 200 people outdoors. 

Although Broadway shows won’t be running, there will be a free festival concert series called NY PopsUp taking place at these theaters. Producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal created this event “to help revitalize the spirit and emotional well-being of New York citizens through the energy of live performance set over 100 days throughout New York City and State,” as stated in BroadwayWorld.  Some of these “flex venues” as BroadwayWorld calls it, are Apollo, Park Avenue Armory, St. Ann’s Warehouse, The SHED, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, National Black theatre, Music Box Theater, Javits Center, Alice Busch Opera Theater, and many more. Some will even be held in museums, parking lots, and on subway platforms.

The NY PopsUp features 300 free concerts, recitals, comedy and theatrical performances. Some of the performers are Tony winner A listers Idina Menzel and Billy Porter. Some television stars are Sarah Jessica Parker and Danielle Brook, rock and hip-hop stars Patti Smith and Q-Tip, and comedian Kenan Thompson. It also features opera singers Davóne Tines and J’Nai Bridges. These were just added to the already big star studded list, with there being other A-listers already announced like Hugh Jackman, Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, and Renée Fleming. These few performers kicked off the event on February 20 at the Javits Center as a tribute to health-care workers on the front lines. On the day of the first performance, other performances were happening on street corners and parks throughout New York City. “Many of the events will be recorded for viewing online later,” stated The Washington Post.

At a news conference in Albany New York, many government officials applauded Broadway for attempting to revamp their economy. “You have an entire sector of the economy that has been out of work. When you shut down Broadway, when you shut down movie theaters, then you stop an entire industry. We have to now nurture that industry to bring it back. It is vital for our cities to survive,” said Cuomo.

Unfortunately, Broadway will not be fully back and recovered because of these events. Filling 100 to 200 seats is not enough for shows to be profitable. Broadway producers have said filling the typical 1,000 to 2,000 seats in a theater is what makes shows profitable. 

The creators of the NY PopsUp event said it is “a key step in the long process of getting tens of thousands of arts professionals around New York State back to work. The idea, too, is to jumpstart reopening indoor performance spaces that can conform to the mandates for social distancing. These venues lack fixed seating and thus are the most conducive to meeting health and safety guidelines.”

Many of the event dates will not be announced in advance, because the state doesn’t want to draw too large crowds. “We’re trying to thread the needle. We want the performances. We don’t want mass gatherings, we don’t want large crowds,” Cuomo stated in a news conference. 

In all, I think this is an excellent idea because I’m a major advocate for the arts. I’ve loved Broadway since I was very young, and will keep loving it for years to come. I agree with Governor Cuomo when he brings up that he wants the performances just not the major crowds. I know many people are excited about Broadway slowly coming back, as am I, but it is very important to keep social distancing, wearing masks, and doing our part to keep ourselves and others safe, during unprecedented times.