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NY PopsUp image, St. James Theatre with Nathan Lane on stage

Broadway Opens Its Doors to Audiences for NY PopsUp Festival

On Saturday, April 3, NY PopsUp, the statewide initiative designed to celebrate and reinvigorate the arts in New York, presented the very first performance inside a Broadway theater since New York’s venues were shuttered by the pandemic more than a year ago. This special event was part of the “pilot program” created by The Festival as a large-scale model for how to bring live performance back safely after this prolonged COVID-related shutdown.

Savion Glover with NY PopsUp
Savion Glover on stage at the St. James Theatre. Photo by Nina Westervelt for NY PopsUp.

Taking place at Broadway’s legendary St. James Theatre, a socially distanced audience made up of ​primarily front line workers affiliated with The Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS watched back-to-back performances, directed by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, by two of New York’s giants of the stage: three-time Tony Award-winner Nathan Lane and Tony Award-winner Savion Glover.

To ensure the health of safety of all attendees and workers, NY PopsUp and the St. James Theatre worked closely with the New York State Department of Health, following all ​state health and safety protocols.

Nathan Lane with NY PopsUp
Nathan Lane on stage at the St. James Theatre. Photo by Nina Westervelt for NY PopsUp.

Mr. Lane performed Playbills, a new monologue by playwright 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. Yearning to be part of an audience again, to experience an event, he shares a true, near-miraculous story, which has given him hope for the city, the world, the TKTS booth, and, at long last, a seat on the aisle.

Mr. Glover performed a special tap piece that channeled his personal experience of a life in the theater, allowing the audience to reflect on what Broadway was, what Broadway is, and what Broadway will be again, and reminding us of the sacred space that is the stage.

Both performances were live-streamed on the festival’s Instagram feed: @NYPopsUp.