Broadway's back! Crowds return to Great White Way after COVID-19 hiatus

BySandy Kenyon and Eyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, April 25, 2022
Crowds returning to Broadway after COVID-19 hiatus
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This month has proven to be among the busiest on Broadway in recent memory, and in fact, it's been a decade since so many new shows opened in April. Sandy Kenyon has more.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- This month has proven to be among the busiest on Broadway in recent memory, and in fact, it's been a decade since so many new shows opened in April.

It's just one more sign of the theater district's revival after a pandemic shutdown that lasted more than 18 months. However, challenges remain.

Recently, four Broadway shows had to cancel performances after a few of those involved tested positive for COVID.

The revival of "Plaza Suite" had to go dark after both of its stars, Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick, tested positive for coronavirus. Both have now recovered and returned to their show, but it demonstrates how uncertainty still lingers on Broadway, even as crowds return.

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In Times Square, the discount tickets booth is doing a brisk business.

"There's nothing like seeing the public who love theater in line to see theater," Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said.

And that is good news for her, as she represents theater owners and producers.

"There were so many people saying, 'There's no way Broadway will ever be what it was,'" she said. "I knew all along they were wrong because of the pent-up demand."

Officials estimate 5.5 million people have gone to see a Broadway show since performances resumed.

"Five and a half million is a wonderful number, but it's still probably two-thirds of what we would have had in a normal year," St. Martin said. "Broadway is a roller coaster. You have had great months. You have not so great months, but you know that people are coming back."

Just in time for Broadway's revival, a new hotel called Civilian in the heart of the theater district is opening after a pandemic delay. The man behind the look of the hotel is designer David Rockwell.

"This hotel got to be a part of the city healing itself, and this community coming back together," Rockwell said.

The idea behind the aesthetic of the place is to celebrate the team effort stage productions require. Rockwell said he wanted to honor the artists behind the curtain.

"People that are part of creating these temporary experiences that stay with us for our lifetime," he said.

Memorabilia is everywhere, with costumes sketches in the elevators, and models that set designers to use to bring shows to life in the bar.

"These are fragile, amazing pieces of art that the public never gets to see," Rockwell said.

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Making memories on Broadway came to an end during the height of the pandemic, but with so many shows opening, the neighborhood has come alive again.

"I really feel very fortunate to be part of such a great place," Rockwell said.

Masks will still be required in Broadway theaters at least through the month of May.

Broadway producers and theater owners lost a lot of money when the omicron variants forced a second shutdown, and they're determined not to have that happen again.


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