Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Don Darryl Rivera played Iago in Disney’s Broadway show Aladdin. He recently visited his dressing room in New York City. Nothing had changed. “It was exactly how I left it,” he told TIME for Kids. “My room was like a time capsule of right before the shutdown.”
Like many other industries, live theater in New York City was hit hard by the pandemic. Many theaters are set to reopen this month. Some have used the time off to make big changes.
On With the Show
The Actors’ Equity Association represents actors and stage managers in the United States. Kate Shindle is its president. She says the shutdown highlighted outdated theater traditions. “It has given us a chance to look at how our business works and the places we can make improvements,” she says. For example, the group wants to see more inclusivity . “Our industry has historically provided more opportunities to white people than to BIPOC ,” Shindle says. Actors’ Equity encourages productions to hire diverse actors and stylists.
Theater companies are also making spaces more accessible. “We are often dealing with very old, historic, and landmark buildings,” Shindle says. “Their accessibility is not always where we need it to be.” Jujamcyn Theaters has five theaters in New York City. In July, the company said it will increase wheelchair accessibility.
A New York Staple
Nearly 15 million people attended Broadway shows in the 2018–2019 season. That’s according to the Broadway League. The industry earned about $1.8 billion. It was a record high.
Tourists made up 65% of Broadway audiences that season. Broadway’s return “will be a celebrated moment in New York City’s tourism recovery,” Fred Dixon says. He leads the tourism group NYC & Company.
Rivera is celebrating his return to the Broadway stage. “There’s just nothing like the magic and the electricity of live theater,” he says.
The story “Broadway is Back”—about the reopening of live theater in New York City—appears in this week’s issue of TIME for Kids. Below, TFK Kid Reporter David Murtagh shares his perspective. David writes about his conversation with Broadway historian Jennifer…