I first published the following post on December 13, 2010, as one of my most prominent memories of the previous decade. As today marks the ninth anniversary of the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, let us never forget neither that dark day nor those whose lives were lost.
Not long after the attacks, Nathan Lane and a troupe of Broadway stars used the classic Kander and Ebb tune to implore the rest of a nervous nation to "Come to New York and let's go on with the show!"
No recollection of the past ten years in theatre could be complete without remembering the horrific events of 9/11.
While I’ll leave it to others to thoroughly discuss what transpired that day, I was struck by how quickly the Broadway community rallied together to truly go on with the show. In the aftermath of 9/11, I was also struck by Mayor Rudy Guliani's message to the rest of the world: “Come to New York and stay in a hotel, do some shopping and see a show.”
I made my pilgrimage to the city in early October. While there were countless reminders of 9/11 to be seen everywhere, particularly through the extensive array of ubiquitous volunteer workers, the city seemed kinder and gentler than I had ever remembered it being. I never felt more welcome as a guest as I did on that visit.
True to the mayor’s prescribed list, I checked into a midtown hotel, did the requisite shopping and made sure I bought tickets to not one, but two Broadway shows. First up was the Tony-winning revival of a quintessential New York classic 42nd Street starring Christine Ebersole.
I followed that up with a very early preview for The Women that featured an all-star cast, including Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Johnston, Jennifer Coolidge, Mary Louise Wilson, Jennifer Tilly, Rue McClanahan and Amy Ryan.
I loved them both, but what I especially loved was the esprit de corps I felt with my fellow audience members. It was as if we really were in this together.
While our attendance was a mere pittance compared to the selfless efforts of those toiling around the clock at the southern end of Manhattan, there was a shared sense that we were at least doing something in providing a tiny economic shot in the arm to this recovering city. Never before had I felt a sense of community with my fellow theatregoers like I did while seeing those two shows.
Initially, I had no intention of going to Ground Zero on that trip, my New York City friends implored me to go. Their message was simple -- it was important for people to bear witness to what I saw. On the Sunday morning after I had enjoyed The Women, I took the subway as far as I could to Chambers Street and then walked. Nothing could have prepared me for the magnitude of the World Trade Center’s still smoldering ruins. I couldn’t help but break down and cry.
Just as I'll never forget the carnage terrorists wrought on the greatest city on the planet, I'll always remember how everyone seemed to come together for a few brief shining moments in the wake of the attacks. I'll forever cherish those days I spent in New York City to witness it first-hand.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
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