New documentary focuses on Broadway's resiliency over time

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Broadway is coming back and with each passing day, more and more shows are getting closer to reopening.

The shows are a big part of New York City and the pandemic has been devastating to the industry.

This isn't the first time Broadway has faced tough times - and that is the focus of a new documentary.

Broadway is selling tickets again and vaccines and masks are required. Many are wondering with tourism just a fraction of what it was, can shows fill theaters?

But the pandemic isn't the first challenge for the theater district.

"This neighborhood was a crime scene, I mean things were so bad, at the time our story starts, police handed out fliers telling people to get off the street by dark which isn't too good for the theater business," said Oren Jacoby.

Jacoby directed the new documentary "On Broadway" which chronicles the ups and downs of the last five or six decades of New York theater.



The film details the Times Square seediness of the '60s, '70s and '80s that almost destroyed Broadway.

It also touches on the AIDS crisis that robbed the theater of its richest talent.

"A whole generation of great artists, directors, choreographers, writers, actors, dancers, Michael Bennett who was responsible for bringing Broadway back...with plays like 'A Chorus Line,' 'Dream Girls,' he died of AIDS, he was just one of hundreds of great artists," Jacoby said.

But Broadway survived and in time recovered. Jacoby says people will come back this time too.

"Broadway keeps reinventing itself, you know it keeps finding new ways to touch the heart of what people care about right now and so Broadway will find a way to respond to this moment," Jacoby said.

The film shows how the the theater in New York responded to previous challenges by innovating.

"A Chorus Line" was revolutionary in 1975 just as the hip hop musical "Hamilton" was revolutionary in 2015 and they both reinvigorated the theater of their time.

Jacoby says the artists always find a way.

RELATED | Broadway theaters announce audience COVID vaccine, mask requirements


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