The show will go on.
For the first time in over a year, a Broadway house welcomed theatergoers for a ticketed event. Actor Nathan Lane and dancer/choreographer Savion Glover, Tony Award-winners both, appeared on stage, individually, for a total of 36 minutes on Saturday. And the audience was thrilled.
The St. James Theater, over 90 years old but boasting a (pre-COVID) new ventilation system, can seat 1,684 people, but kept it to just 150 masked individuals sprinkled throughout the venue. The tickets were free, and given to workers at organizations like The Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
As reported in The New York Times, Glover, whose choreography for the mid-1990s sensation Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk can safely be called a Broadway paradigm shift, improvised a tap dance with the spirit of past Broadway shows like A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls, and West Side Story.
Savion Glover receives Broadway’s first entrance applause since the COVID shutdown, during a @NYPopsUp event for @TheActorsFund and @BCEFA workers/volunteers https://t.co/JsUqY8GhMQ pic.twitter.com/sU30vaJ9yl
— Ryan McPhee (@rdmcphee) April 3, 2021
Then Nathan Lane appeared, who performed a new monologue called Playbills written specifically for the occasion by Paul Rudnick. In it, Lane is a Broadway die-hard fantasizing about Broadway stars like Hugh Jackman, Patti LuPone, and Audra McDonald coming by his apartment (and the latter two breaking into a sing-off.)
I just watched the legendary Savion Glover and the beyond sublime Nathan Lane, who performed a monologue I wrote, in a NY PopsUp event, one of hundreds that are re-introducing live performance – what a joy to be back in a theater (with masks and protocols)! pic.twitter.com/s9ft31KHhT
— Paul Rudnick (@PaulRudnickNY) April 3, 2021
In a post-show interview with the Times, Glover admitted the evening was bittersweet. “I want to be rubbing elbows and hugging — we’re looking for that eventually — but there’s no more safe place than right in the middle of that stage,” he said.
When asked if he felt safe, Lane told the paper “I’ve been swabbed. I’ve been hosed down,” adding he’d been tested and vaccinated “123 times.”