Nothing in New York City was untouched after 9 a.m. on Sept. 11. As people still ran screaming from the destruction, and smoke enveloped the end of Manhattan, everything shut down. Stores and businesses closed early while hospitals worked overtime to help victims.
Even Broadway, the veritable calling card of the city, could not remain untouched. The theaters were dark on that Tuesday and did not reopen again until Thursday, Sept. 13. When shows did go on again, they were to subdued audiences and less-than-record attendances.
While government officials urged New Yorkers and tourists to come back to the city, it seemed a hard bill to fill. By November, after the closing of many upstart Broadway and off-Broadway shows, things started to make a turn around.
A survey of theatergoers conducted by the American League of Theatres and Producers from October 2001 showed that 30 percent of domestic visitors decided to come to the city and see a show in order to support New York. Thirty-seven percent of these same visitors said their decision to come to New York City was motivated by the World Trade Center attack.
This year, most of the shows currently playing on Broadway will go on. Nine currently running shows will perform regular schedules, while 13 shows will remain dark. Also, in honor of the victims and the tragedy, all Broadway theaters will dim their marquees for one minute. Also, the casts performing will sing “God Bless America” after their curtain calls.
However, despite color-changing threat levels, Broadway and New York City seem to be on the rebound. Fiscal year 2002 will end on Sept. 30, but the comparison of numbers between 2001 and 2002 are similar.
This year, I Love NY Theater, a program started before Sept. 11 to encourage everyone to enjoy theater, is still in full force. The program offers theatergoers reduced ticket prices on over 20 shows. While the program is not a direct result of Sept. 11, this year it takes on new meaning.