Indoor dining reopened in New York City last week, area arenas are scheduled to reopen next week, New York State is launching New York Pops Up initiative (in-person performances in unconventional venues — such as convention centers — throughout the state), New York City Open Culture program (street performances) as well as Curtains Up NYC (to help arts venues get federal grants), and Governor Andrew Cuomo is even talking vaguely about reopening Broadway: “Would I go see a play and sit in a playhouse with 150 people? If the 150 people were tested, and they were all negative, yes, I would do that. I think reopening with testing is going to be the key.”
All this hopefulness comes at a moment when ten percent of New York State’s population has gotten the first dose of the two-dose COVID vaccines, and the eligibility for vaccination has been expanded.
But there are still thousands of new COVID cases every day, and some clues that New Yorkers are more excited in the abstract for what the future promises.
To paraphrase the title of a musical aiming for Broadway: Some don’t like it hot.
The Week in Historical Events
Week in Theater News
Comedian, writer, actress, and television host Amber Ruffin has been hired as co-writer with Matthew Lopez (The Inheritance) on “Some Like It Hot,” the new musical aiming for Broadway based on the Oscar-winning film starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The songs will be by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, direction and choreography by Case Nicholaw.
Black Theatre Coalition is partnering with Broadway Records on a new album entitled Black Writers Amplified, which will include some two dozen tracks of new work from both established and emerging Black musical theatre writers.
February 22nd: Wave_Head by: Joey Palestina
February 23rd: The War I Know by: Dominic Colon
February 24th: Intensive Ensemble Night
February 25th: Wherever You Go by: Elizabeth Canavan
February 26th: Rayne by: David Deblinger & Ben Snyder
February 27th: Dani & Joe: A Gen X Love Story by: Kristina Poe
February 28th: The Undertaking by: Chris McGarry
Broadway’s closure exposes its sway on the economic ecosystem: Prior to the pandemic, Broadway was booming. But curtains haven’t risen since March, with deep personal and financial impacts. By one count, Broadway is directly responsible for nearly 100,000 jobs in New York City alone and, as a leading attraction for people who travel to the city, it has an economic impact of nearly $15 billion.
The PBS piece mentions many of the relief efforts, both well-known — the $15 billion worth of grants available through Congress’s Save Our Stages — and more obscure: When the long-running TV show, “Law & Order: SVU” resumed production in September, executive producer Warren Leight announced he would hire as many unemployed theater actors as possible, more than 30 so far.
Art and Culture under Trump: Eight critics (none of the theater) assess the impact
Can theater be used to heal the partisan divide? The brainchild of Derek Goldman, chairman of the Georgetown Department of Performing Arts, the program is called “In Your Shoes.” It is one facet of a unique Georgetown effort, the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics — a blended unit of drama and diplomacy that seems especially well-suited for a nation divided against itself. “All of this work is what I’ve been calling ‘witness across difference,’ ” said Goldman, who created the Lab in 2012 with Cynthia P. Schneider, a former U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands who is now a professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. “Which is a way of saying that there is a particular power that performance has, to allow us to listen deeply, bear witness and ultimately empathize with each other.”
RIP, Joe Allen, 87, theater district restaurateur who opened his namesake eatery 56 years ago, best-known for its wall full of posters from Broadway flops. But Joe’s place was a success. “Maybe because I don’t inflict myself on the customers.”