Anne Grossman and Jennifer Rockwood hustled into Broadway’s August Wilson Theater shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday and, beneath their face masks, smiled.
They had shown their proof of vaccination, passed through metal detectors, and, as they stepped down into the lobby, marveled at being back inside a theater. “It’s thrilling” Grossman said, “and a little unsettling.”
The two women, both 58-year-old New Yorkers, were among 1,055 people who braved concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant in order to, once again, see a play on Broadway. It was the first performance of “Pass Over,” by Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, which is the first play staged on Broadway since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered theaters in March of 2020.
“I wanted to be part of the restart of live theater.” Rockwood said.
The play, both comedic and challenging, is about two Black men trapped under a streetlight, afraid that if they dare to leave their corner, they could be killed by a police officer.
The crowd, vaccinated and masked but not socially distanced, was rapturous, greeting Nwandu’s arrival with a standing ovation, and another when she and the play’s director, Danya Taymor, walked onstage after the play to hug the three actors.
The night was significant, not only as Broadway seeks to rebound from a shutdown of historic length, but also as it seeks to respond to renewed concerns about racial equity that have been raised over the last year. “Pass Over” is one of seven plays by Black writers slated to be staged on Broadway this season, and, like many of them, it grapples directly with issues of race and racism.
Read the full article by Michael Paulson for the New York Times here.