NY PopsUp

Frontline Workers Treated to First Broadway Theater Performances Since COVID Closure

Tony Award winners Nathan Lane and Savion Glover delivered performances in the first Broadway house to reopen its doors since the pandemic shutdown

Attendees wait in line as Broadway's St. James Theatre reopens with an exclusive performance for frontline workers as part of NY PopsUp on April 03, 2021 in New York City
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The Broadway stage was brought back to life over the weekend for an exclusive performance for frontline workers as part of NY PopsUp.

Tony Award winners Nathan Lane and Savion Glover delivered performances in the first Broadway house to reopen its doors since the Midtown theaters were closed over one year ago.

The St. James Theatre played host to a socially-distant audience made up of frontline workers treated to back-to-back performances. The NY PopsUp show was the latest in a series of surprise performances and shows meant to reinvigorate the art and culture scene with live performances.

The frontline workers in attendance were primarily affiliated with the Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AID. Everyone was screened before the show in accordance with the state Department of Health health and safety protocols.

Healthcare workers and Jordan Strohl (3rd right) from The Actors Fund Home pose for a photo as Broadway's St. James Theatre reopens with an exclusive performance for frontline workers as part of NY PopsUp
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Healthcare workers and Jordan Strohl (3rd right) from The Actors Fund Home pose for a photo as Broadway's St. James Theatre reopened with an exclusive performance for frontline workers as part of NY PopsUp on April 3, 2021, in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

"Broadway stars have just been classified as essential workers, and I say, 'Duh, come right in,'" Nathan Lane told the crowd spread out in the seats at St. James Theatre.

Lane performed "Playbills," a new monologue by Paul Rudnick about "a man who has spent the last year cooped up in his studio apartment, laid off from his job and desperately missing his greatest passion: going to the theater." Glover treated the audience to a tape piece that channeled his personal experience in the theater and invited a reflection on the past, present and future of Broadway.

New York kicked off the nearly 200-day festival on Feb. 20 at the Javits Center, a site now synonymous with the city's recovery efforts. The festival will reach its peak with the 20th Anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival and The Festival at Little Island at Pier 55, bringing the total number of performances to more than 1,000 by that point.

The events produced by NY PopsUp will be staged across the five boroughs of New York City, throughout Long Island and in all regions of the state. Cuomo said more than 300 pop-up performances will take place, with performers including actors Hugh Jackman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kenan Thompson, opera stars Renée Fleming and J’Nai Bridges, performance artist Taylor Mac and dancer Savion Glover.

New Yorkers are encouraged to get tested before attending events and to use Excelsior Pass to show venues that they've been vaccinated or tested before entering. Cuomo said these steps are key to a successful reopening and new guidance from the federal government last week echoed the importance of vaccinations.

Joelle Garguilo discusses cool events, reopenings and more from the world of Broadway.
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