By Naomi Serviss
It’s curtains for Manhattan’s yearlong intermission.
Midtown is thrumming with eager tour-bus enthusiasts.
Restaurant Row is grateful for the uptick.
The Naked Cowboy is strumming in Times Square.
I’m mindful of Covid’s variants and have faith in science.
Extra masks fill my backpack.
My daughter Emmy and I recently visited the Theater District.
I told her about the newest addition to my souvenir drink cup collection.
Beetlejuice, The Ferryman, Ain’t Too Proud, Hamilton, Tina, Cher and Mean Girls.
We wore face coverings walking around.
Eighth Avenue was pre-pandemic, like Wednesday matinee rush hour.
There were fewer masked than maskless on West 46th Street.
Restaurants were doing a brisk business.
Stepping into the newly opened Drama Book Shop on West 39th Street was thrilling.
Aptly named, the shop has had its share of drama.
After flood, fire, rent increase and Covid slammed the doors, the shop was on life support.
Until Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda stepped in
In the Heights was nurtured to fruition in the shop's storied basement, where burgeoning playwrights and performers honed their craft.
A sculptural "bookworm” composed of theater-related tomes meanders above customers.
The shop has a museum vibe.
A signed first-edition copy of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women is displayed behind glass doors.
Broadway isn’t roaring back with a vengeance.
It’s baby-stepping on tiptoes,
a handful of musicals at a time.
I’m nervous about in-person performances.
The forest may be thinning, but we’re still in the woods.
Diehards thirsting for familiar entertainment will be sated September 14th.
Three mighty titans will be seating patrons:
The Lion King
Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Ain’t Too Proud, Diana and others to follow.
Hugh Jackman fans might chance a New York City adventure to catch his performance in The Music Man.
Count me in.
I had tickets for Broadway’s Six on March 12th, 2020.
The day Gotham screeched to a halt like a train emergency.
When theaters open, they’ll adhere to CDC regulations.
Broadway theaters have said they’ve:
...now upgraded all of their auditorium ventilation systems
with MERV 13 filters, created a contactless experience
for guests entering the theatre and established
rigorous cleaning and sanitation protocols.
Based on CDC and New York state guidelines at the time of performance.
Protocols may include contact tracing survey, vaccination or negative test verification,
limitations on belongings in the theatre. Proper mask usage, assigned entry times, contactless temperature check, social distancing and more.
A cynic by nature, I am not reassured.
The physical safety measures might coax some Jersey folks into day-tripping.
Not Long Islanders.
Our country has undergone a violent awakening.
Racism has long seeped into the cultural institutions.
Theatrical power brokers need to admit and re-examine casting biases.
We live in a multiracial, ethnically diverse society that should be reflected on stage.
A newly released study by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition might shock.
The coalition examined New York’s 2018-19 Broadway and non-profit theaters.
At the 18 major nonprofit theaters examined, 100 percent of artistic directors were white.
Ditto general managers.
Eighty-eight percent of board members were also white.
The coalition pointed out that Asian-focused narratives remain consistently minimized and overlooked.
Another coalition, Counting Together, was founded in 2019.
It is researching race, gender and disability in the theater industry.
Its website, CountingTogether.org is hosted by the Dramatists Guild and the American Theater Wing.
Six years ago, the Public Theater produced Clifford Odets’ Jewish-American classic, Awake and Sing.
It was a brilliant production by performers from the
National Asian American Theatre Company.
I’m anxiously psyched about Broadway’s rebound.
A Six souvenir cup would be nice.
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com