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A Daytime Walk on Broadway and the Theater in the Dark


On October 9, the Broadway League announced that the theater season has been postponed through May 2021, leaving Broadway dark for the winter and into the spring of next year. According to the press release, “Broadway performances were initially suspended due to COVID 19 on March 12, 2020. At that time, 31 productions were running, including 8 new shows in previews. Additionally, 8 productions were in rehearsals preparing to open in the spring.”

John Lennon would have been 80 this year. 

It’s hard to imagine New York without the theater. Even a daytime walk along the way in the Theater District near Times Square will reveal that the theater, in terms of live performances with an audience, has gone dark. Without Broadway, that leaves visitors to Times Square with few options for general amusement. Many stores and restaurants have closed as well. The lights are still up and blazing. When the Empire State Building was left nearly empty during the Great Depression, just a few years after it opened, the building crew kept the lights on. With the closure of businesses and performance venues in this major tourist site due to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, a similar sense of unreality emerges.

Brad Pitt, looking a little stiff, at Madame Tussaud's on 42nd Street.

On an ordinary Friday afternoon, I walked from the subway stop on 42nd Street to Broadway and then north to the Ed Sullivan Theatre. On 42nd Street, the security man for Madame Tussaud’s invited me to stop and snap pictures of Brad Pitt, Tayler Swift, and Jimmy Fallon.  

Time out for the costume characters

A few of the ubiquitous street performers were out and about. The Naked Cowboy was out in his usual strumming cowboy outfit, mask down. A handful of costumed Cookie Monsters and Spidermen lolled about, lifting the heads off their costumes as if the pretense of staying in character was not worth the pressure of staying inside them.    

The Naked Cowboy 

Thanks to the pleasant fall weather, several groups of friends and families took advantage of the plentiful seating in the pedestrian friendly areas of Broadway for an informal lunch. Those present hardly constituted a crowd. 

Lunch in the sun in a pedestrian section of Broadway

That Friday, October 9, happened to be John Lennon’s birthday. The famous Beatle and New York resident would have turned 80 this year. A sign with his profile dominated the scene at the “tkts” seating area.  

Krispy Kreme Flagship Times Square

One attraction along the Great White Way is the new Krispy Kreme Doughnut store on Broadway at W. 48th Street. On Friday, a friendly staff maintained the socially distanced line of visitors that stretched modestly out the door. 

Glazed doughnuts in the Big Apple

The flagship Times Square store was designed with theater in mind, featuring a conveyor belt of doughnuts entering a glazed waterfall. 

The Big Apple Doughnut at Krispy Kreme

The store’s exclusive product at this location is the bright red Big Apple Doughnut.   

The Winter Garden Theatre

Walking toward the intersection of Broadway and W. 50th Street, the dark Winter Garden Theatre serves as a reminder of the things we can’t have right now. In this case, it’s a revival of The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. Opening night is now scheduled for Thursday, February 10, 2022. 

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert tapes at the Ed Sullivan Theatre

In happier entertainment news, The Tonight Show, The Late Show, The Late Late Show, Late Night and Jimmy Kimmel Live! returned to their studios in September. At the Ed Sullivan Theatre, The Late Show marquee lights were turned on. Since Friday is not a taping day, the scene would be livelier here on earlier days of the week.  

On Wednesday October 7, NYC Next organized “A Moment for Broadway,” the kickoff event of pop-up concerts to bring back some joy to the city and to raise awareness of the role of the theater community in city life. These events will be spontaneous and not publicized in keeping with social distance protocols.

At the kickoff event, Broadway musical actors led by Bernadette Peters assembled on the TKTS red platform in Times Square (seen in the first image) to perform “Sunday” from Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. I’m sorry now that I didn’t take this walk on an ordinary Wednesday. See a video of the moving performance on NYCNext’s website at https://nycnext.org/events

We’ll leave the walk here, with best wishes and good luck to come upon such pop-up events in the near future and for much longer ones in the long run.  

Images from Friday, October 9, 2020.

Related post:

• From earlier this summer - A Morning Walk from Pandemic Station (Penn Station) to Pandemic Square (Times Square) July 8, 2020. 

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