Friday, December 9th, 2022

Queerguru reviews BROADWAY RISING the story of how The Great White Way came through COVID


At the height of the COVID pandemic when so many of us were in isolation at home it did seem like the world outside had actually stopped turning. Having given up watching most news broadcasts since the previous resident of the White House had single-handedly destroyed their credibility, we had no real inkling of how anybody else was managing.

As members of a certain age (!) of the LGBTQ community we still may have gotten carried away with the initial flurries of panic, but hey we had survived one of most devastating pandemics that man has ever had to face,  so surely this would be a cakewalk for us?

It’s one of the theories that surfaced in Amy Rice‘s insightful documentary BROADWAY RISING which traces how The Great White Way went into a Covid Meltdown and how some 18 months later it crawled its way back out.  In an industry that was particularly hard hit by AIDS, it was inevitable that there would be comparisons.  But no matter how hard Broadway really suffered then it never closed down  ,…. and neither had it done so even in WW2.  It had taken the atrocities of 9/11 for all the lights to be dimmed for two whole nights in every NY theater in 2001.

There were quite a few other facts that shocked us too like when NY’s Mayor ordered the shutdown in March 2020 it was actually some 96000 people who were laid off.  I’m unsure of the financial consequences of all the crafts and backstage people, but we learned that there was a very definite hardship/cost for would-be stars.  They were only paid for their actual performances and more importantly at this juncture, also their health cover  only worked when they worked.

Rise told the story through some in-depth interviews with heavyweight producers, leading performers, costume designers, the main Broadway laundry service, and even the theatre usher who became the first’ victim’ of the disease. Even the most optimistic of them found their initial good humor starting to dissipate when the planned 2-month stoppage stretched out to some 18 months.

There are some individual stories that we eagerly related too.  Tony-Winning producer Tim Kirkadky  (The Inheritance) talked about losing his husband Terrence MacNally (“the bard of American Theater) to Covid; equally sad was 41-year old Tony Nominated actor Nick Codero‘s pneumonia turned to a fatal dose of Covid, and although charismatic dancer Adam Perry was thinking his chorus days may be over he finds he has a  talent and works as a Broadway florist.

But the one really uplifting tale was how the industry seemed so visibly shaken by the death of George Floyd that they actually started addressing both equality and racism.  Outsiders may believe that the entire theatre community is enlightened and democratic, but hearing some of the real-life experiences was a wake-up call for us and we think many other people. T. Oliver Reid helped found the Black Theater Coalition as a way of increasing Black employment in the business. Ruben Santiago-Hudson shared his story.  So the real news then was when Broadway reopened last fall, there were seven new works from Black writers. It’s possibly one of the only good things that came out of the pandemic.

I think the phrase ‘it takes a village ‘ refers to raising a child, but when you realize that Broadway’s success or failure affects so much more than a few streets of theaters …… it really takes a whole town…… thank goodness that their combined efforts are considering to keep the lights in Broadway glowing bright!



Review : Roger Walker-Dack

Editor in Chief : Queerguru 
Member of G.A.L.E.C.A. (Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) and NLGJA The Association of LGBT 
Journalists. and The Online Film Critics Society. Ex Contributung Editor The Gay Uk &Contributor Edge Media 
Former CEO and Menswear Designer of  Roger Dack Ltd in the UK    
one of the hardest-working journalists in the business' Michael Goff of Towleroad

Posted by queerguru  at  19:11


Genres:  documentary

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