Magical Broadway Beckons: The Show Might Go On
Updated: Aug 19
By Naomi Serviss
I’m a little anxious about Broadway.
We all need some hocus-pocus in our lives.
Theater is magic, whether you witness the disappearance of Lady Liberty,
or are blown away by Steve Cohen, “The Millionaire’s Magician,”
in a fancy parlor at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel.
Cohen’s Chamber Magic is a finely tuned Victorian entertainment.
Suitable for the well-mannered and properly attired.
A gentleman’s gentleman, Cohen is dressed to thrill with a boyish mien and mischief in his eyes.
He summons an ornate living room of a wealthy patron eager to impress guests.
Cohen succeeds on every level, from his card misdirection to his sophisticated conjuring.
The program details his chicanery.
“Think a Drink” confounded and wowed!
Audience members scrawled a favorite beverage on provided paper and pen.
These were collected and passed to the maestro.
He read a few out loud.
Then, he nonchalantly poured those four different beverages from one large kettle!
Cohen’s final card trick was “Total Coincidence,” described in the program as:
“An enigma of the highest order
Demonstrated with two regulation packs of cards.”
It was and he did!
We were delightfully baffled and highly amused.
Audiences are small, masks and vaccination proof required.
It was a splendid first foray into live theater.
But am I ready to step foot in a Broadway venue?
This new Delta variant isn’t helping.
Beetlejuice was the last pre-pandemic musical I attended.
I have the beverage cup to prove it!
It’s been 16 months since the last play ran on Broadway.
The new mandates issued by theater owners and operators are reassuringly pragmatic.
Based on science and safety protocols.
Attendees must mask-up and show proof of vaccination.
I feel better already.
But wait, there’s more!
The mandate also applies to performers, backstage crew and theater staff.
The rules will be in place through October for all 41 Broadway theaters, according to the Broadway League.
After that, your guess is as good as mine.
More than two dozen shows, including beloved blockbusters, are slated to open in September and October.
Broadway will open at full capacity, with no social distancing.
Soon you’ll be fighting over the arm rest like in the good old days!
Pass Over was the first play to open.
Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s drama
is the first by a Black playwright to be performed at the August Wilson Theater.
It’s one of seven plays by a Black artist to open on Broadway this year.
The theater’s name honors the iconic storyteller of 20th century Black life.
This incendiary three-person drama’s focus is on young Black men in a violent city.
It’s a rage-against-the-machinery of white privilege in a racist society.
Think Waiting for Godot without a net.
Splashy, razzle-dazzle musicals pick up the pace on September 2nd with Waitress and Hadestown.
Hamilton, Wicked, Chicago and The Lion King roar back on September 14th.
Six previewed in Boston last spring, prepping for its Broadway debut March 12th.
Never happened, the city was in lockdown.
Too bad my tickets were for March 13th.
Some 65% of Broadway’s audiences are tourists.
A good chunk comes from the tri-state area.
Will enough tourists return to sustain a struggling show?
Musicals traditionally do better than dramatic plays.
But with tourism down and new mandates up,
will local audiences be too reticent to return?
Broadway theaters range from 600 to 1,900 seats.
Filling them under normal circumstances has always been dicey.
But during an evolving virus?
After a year-plus in quasi-hibernation,
I’m game for more close-up magic.
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