The theater community is coming together in Times Square today for the first time since Broadway was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The event, “A Moment for Broadway,” is organized by volunteer organization NYCNext as part of a series of pop-up performances designed to bring renewed vibrancy to New York City.
Broadway Inspirational Voices, with special guests, will sing a socially distanced ensemble performance of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park With George on the TKTS Red Steps on Wednesday, October 7.
The chorus includes Kate Baldwin, Sierra Boggess, Charl Brown, Andréa Burns, Carolee Carmello, Danielle Chambers, Casey Clark, Kris Coleman, Gavin Creel, Jennifer Damiano, Allyson Kaye Daniel, Brandon Victor Dixon, Eden Espinosa, Lucia Giannetta, Jason Gotay, Erika Henningsen, Marcus Paul James, Telly Leung, Norm Lewis, Zonya Love, Anastacia McCleskey, Javier Muñoz, Jon Eric Parker, Bernadette Peters, Andrew Rannells, Kris Roberts, Desiree Rodriguez, Eliseo Roman, Ben Roseberry, Stark Sands, Ari’el Stachel, and Virginia Woodruff.
The performance is directed by Pulitzer and Tony award-winning composer Tom Kitt and Tony honoree Michael McElroy. The event is produced by Blake Ross, Holly-Anne Devlin, Bryan Perri, Mary Page Nance, and Julia Levy. Song arrangement is provided by McElroy along with James Sampliner and Tony and Emmy winner Billy Porter. A special thank you goes to Sunday in the Park with George co-creators Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine for their support and encouragement in this effort.
Also in attendance are Joel Grey, Celia Keenan Bolger, Ana Villafañe, Christopher Sieber, Max von Essen, and many other Broadway luminaries, in addition to representatives from the 14 labor unions that work on Broadway, local business owners and guild members.
The initiative is led by NYCNext, a group of 100+ volunteer New Yorkers from all sectors who have joined together with the mission of helping build the next New York by creating and producing live, spontaneous pop-up events. Their aim is to harness the creative energy and irrepressible spirit of New York to bring moments of joy, while also giving back to the artists, neighborhoods, and people who make the city home. NYCNext was co-founded by Maryam Banikarim, Caroline Donahue, and Andrew Lerner.
“We created NYCNext to celebrate New York, the city we love,” says Maryam Banikarim. “We recognize that this is a difficult time for the city, but we also know that New York is incredibly resilient. With these shared moments, we aim to mobilize New Yorkers to help build the next New York. The group of people who have spontaneously come together to produce this Broadway event – our first major performance – is incredible. It’s a testament to the irrepressible spirit of the city.”
“Today, we stand together as a group of artists deeply committed to the theater and city we love, representing what is possible when diverse lived experiences and talents lift their voices in song,” says Tom Kitt.
“As we observe social distancing measures that are necessary and important, we also want everyone to know that the Broadway community is here,” adds Michael McElroy, founder of Broadway Inspirational Voices. “Live theater is crucial, and when the moment comes, we will be back, but in a different way. We are using this as an opportunity to create the arts environment we want to see — one that takes in this diverse community that makes up New York City.”
“The performance will be brief but allows one of New York’s most vital businesses — Broadway — to safely and ceremoniously come together. Our aim is to inspire people, either in New York or in other cities, to use our model and create events of their own. We need to celebrate our cities and the wonderful people who make them vital,” concluded Maryam Banikarim.
A Moment for Broadway is made possible by Clear Channel Outdoor, Our Man in Havana, Ricciardi Group, Smartypants Pictures, the Times Square Alliance, and VaynerMedia, as well as generous support provided by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
To further support the artists and workers of Broadway, NYCNext is making a donation to The Actors Fund, as well as paying each artist supporting the event. The performance will be sign-interpreted by Lynnette Taylor and Anne Tomasetti from Hands On. Crystal Hall, Liz Callaway, Angela Grovey, Vishal Vaidya, and Michael McElroy contributed vocals to the song.
All NYCNext events are spontaneous and not publicized in advance in order to comply with social distancing rules. All attendees are required to wear masks and practice social distancing, and all performers signed COVID-19 waivers. To find out more, visit www.nycnext.org or follow it on Instagram or with the hashtag #NYCNext.