Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

No Actors, But the Show Goes On

A visitor to Times Square poses for a picture during celebrations for Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 7, 2020.

The lights are still bright on Broadway. The marquees still boast breathless reviews of shows. But come showtime, the stages are quiet. A global pandemic caused the theatres to close abruptly in March 2020, stranding patrons and leaving tens of thousands without work.

But “the ballet of the streets” goes on. Times Square still shines in gaudy neon. Showtime dancers entertain tourists. Music and cheers mark a momentous election. Teenagers practice wheelies on flashy bicycles. Tourists snap selfies and costumed characters wander the streets.

The shuttered theatres wait patiently. Or are the boards taking an overdue rest from generations who “have trod, have trod, have trod?”

Human dramas, large and small, play out just steps away. No tickets are required, merely a facemask and a willingness to watch. The sun goes down early this winter. The lights of billboards set the stage. Matinees start at 5 o’clock and play until sunrise.

46th Street lies quiet at night. Normally crowds would be lining up to see musicals like “Hamilton.” Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 27, 2020.

A Halal cart worker prepares a meal. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 19, 2020.

The Ambassador Theatre where “Chicago,” the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, had been playing. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 19, 2020.

A street dancer performs a “showtime” routine. Despite smaller crowds, the performances continue night after night. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 27, 2020.

A door outside the Walter Kerr Theatre advertises the musical “Hadestown.” Broadway performances were abruptly stopped on March 12, 2020, and have a tentative return date of May 2021. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 27, 2020

A visitor to Times Square with an air filtration helmet. COVID-19 has led to a drop in tourism and safety measures including face masks and social distancing. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 7, 2020.

The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre advertising a play starring Hollywood actress Laura Linney. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 27, 2020.

A child watches the 2020 presidential election results on the ABC News ticker. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 7, 2020.

The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre advertising a show about the life of Tina Turner. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 19, 2020.

A cyclist performs a wheelie. Groups of young people still gather to ride bikes, scooters, and skateboards. in Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. December 3, 2020.

The Brooks Atkinson Theatre advertising the play “Six.” According to the Broadway League, shows provide nearly 100,000 jobs. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 19, 2020.

The Times Square Ball reflected in a puddle. For the first time in 114 years, there will be no crowd to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Times Square, New York City. Photo by James Pothen. November 13, 2020.

 

 

 


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