Carolines on Broadway celebrates its comeback after silencing pandemic

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Tuesday, June 1, 2021
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Crystal Cranmore reports on the the comedy club becoming one of the first live entertainment venues to operate in Times Square in more than a year.

TIMES SQUARE (WABC) -- It's no joke: Carolines on Broadway is celebrating its reopening.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Monday at the iconic comedy club. It was a ceremonial opening after the pandemic silenced the arts industry the past year.

Carolines reopened over the weekend, becoming one of the first live entertainment venues to operate in Times Square in more than a year.

Comedian Yamaneika Saunders was just happy to get back to work.

"We've been in such a depressive state for over 15 months," Saunders said.

She joined Sen. Chuck Schumer, club owner Caroline Hirsch and several others to close the curtain on a dark chapter.

"After a year of hell, the greatest therapy during times of trouble is comedy," Hirsch said.

While most of Broadway won't reopen until September, Schumer's Save Our Stages Act is sending $16 million to performance venues.

Carolines on Broadway first opened in 1982 and has become a cultural institution, hosting legendary performers and producing the New York Comedy festival.

"It feels so good! We're close to reopening, getting back to normal. I can't tell you how relieved I am. I had more tension and stress not being open than getting everything done right now," Hirsch said last week.

Her first show since the pandemic began in March of last year opened on Thursday, May 27 with Donnell Rawlings as the headliner.

"To be able to see this club some back to life and to be able to make this person laugh and that person laugh, I'm super excited about it," Rawlings said.

During the pandemic, he found a silver lining in the dark cloud. Rawlings got to spend time with his 4-year-old son after years spent on the road, and he even found a way to perform. He was part of a series of shows staged by his old friend Dave Chappelle in an Ohio cornfield where fans could remain socially distanced.

But now Carolines on Broadway will be closer to business as usual.

ALSO WATCH | 'Ghost Light: Broadway's Long Intermission' | Full documentary

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