Banter Bites

The Greatest Broadway Opening … Ever

As the song says, "They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, they say there's always magic in the air on Broadway" … and now it's all coming back!

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Although we live in Texas, we're originally from New York, and as different as we are, one thing we have in common is a love of Broadway, so we're excited about the re-opening of Broadway, even if for very different reasons.

For Red, the re-opening of Broadway's a return to better times, and even if she doesn't get to New York soon, it reminds her of falling in love with the theater – from Shakespeare to musicals, dramas to comedies – and why she majored in it at college. Yet her introduction to Broadway, which was less than 30 miles from where we grew up on Long Island, started thousands of miles away in London. At the time, Black was attending (not sure "studying" would be an accurate description) London Business School for the final semester of her M.B.A., and as Red's 16th birthday gift had her visit for a few weeks.

On one of Red's first nights in London, Black took her to the West End to see "The Crucifer of Blood" at the Haymarket (its "proper" name is the Theatre Royal Haymarket and to this day remains Red's favorite theater) starring Keith Michell. Red had avidly watched him years prior as he portrayed Henry VIII in the Masterpiece Theater series, and that night, she watched him play Sherlock Holmes on stage and,

I can remember it as if it was yesterday. Watching a live performance was magical and inspiring, and I felt like it brought all of us in the audience together. There's something very powerful about the theater "experience", and although there'll be various safety precautions, I'm excited Broadway's coming back. And I'd love to see Six, the acclaimed British musical about the six wives of Henry VIII, which was hours from its first-night opening when theaters closed.

Black remembers the first Broadway show she ever saw, Finian's Rainbow, when she was about 10-years-old. She hated it because she thought the storyline was far-fetched, and people didn't just break out in song for no apparent reason. (Obviously, she's always been pragmatic.)

Years later, Black was pursuing her M.B.A. at New York University, took an accounting class from one of the Shubert Organization founders, and was introduced to the business side of theater and immediately took an active interest. First in the history of what made Broadway, Broadway, and then she started going to the Broadway "hits" to understand what the market wanted. Looking at how Broadway continually seemed to reinvent itself to survive (there's a soon-to-be-released documentary, "On Broadway"), although it will face daunting financial odds.

And now that reinvention will include the recently signed "New Deal" where the theater industry itself (theater owners, producers, creatives, casting directors, even union leaders) has committed to reforms that will ensure equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging. Of course, Black can't help but point out the elephant in the room (or is it the elephant on stage?),

Broadway has long been known as "The Great White Way," and although it was because of all the electric white lights on the theatre marquees and billboards, there is a "politically incorrect" connotation to that phrase. However, the Broadway that closed in March 2020 will be very different when it reopens … and hopefully will be the beginning of a strong season and a bright future.

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