'A Moment for Broadway': Stars turn out for pop-up event amid COVID pandemic shutdown

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TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- The Broadway community came together in Times Square Wednesday for the first time since all productions shut down in March in a surprise pop-up event.

NYCNext, a volunteer organization, gathered stars Bernadette Peters, Kelli O'Hara, Sierra Boggess, Andrew Rannells, Brandon Victor Dixon, Andrea Burns, Ana Villafañe, Ali Stroker, Norm Lewis, Javier Muñoz and more in the first event in a series they hope will bring spontaneous joy to New York City.

"A Moment for Broadway" included a wide variety of well-known Broadway stars coming together to sing a socially distanced ensemble performance of Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday" from "Sunday in the Park With George" on the Times Square Red Steps.

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Peters and Rannells both said performing live is something they miss.

"This is a really important event for all of us who are participating just to show we're here and everyone is trying to figure out a way to get us back to where we were," Rannells said.

All of the performers wore face shields and were well-spaced out, but that didn't detract from the feeling.

"It was amazing, just to hear those voices was really really good," New Yorker Jane Pilkerton said.

Also in attendance were Joel Grey, Celia Keenan Bolger, Christopher Sieber, Max von Essen, and many other Broadway luminaries, in addition to representatives from all 14 unions that work on Broadway and local business owners and other guild members that make up the Broadway community.

Closures due to the coronavirus pandemic are threatening to damage Broadway for years to come, if the federal government does not step in and provide funding to buoy the industry, Sen. Charles Schumer said last month.

Related: New legislation seeks federal relief for Broadway

The closure of all Broadway shows has been extended through at least January 3, 2021.

Schumer said the 2018-2019 Broadway season alone delivered $14.7 billion to the city's economy and sustained about 100,000 direct, full-time jobs.

He is pushing to provide much-needed federal relief in the form of the Save Our Stages Act.

The legislation would create a $10 billion Small Business Administration program to provide grants to eligible shows, productions, venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to help cover six months of operating expenses and offset the economic impact of COVID-19.

"Our economic recovery is going to be driven by the arts because that is a cornerstone of the community, and all of our volunteers have come together to really help our city imagine an even better New York on the other side of this," said Maryam Banikarim with NYCNext.

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Suddenly, the brutal death of George Floyd while in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis filled the streets of a nation with rage and sorrow. New York was no different. Protesters put the fear of the virus aside and took to the streets by the thousands. Abandoning the safety and comfort of social distance, to demand social change.





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