New documentary ‘On Broadway’ focuses on the resilience of New York theater over time

NEW YORK (WABC) – Broadway is returning and with each passing day, more shows are getting closer to reopening.

Shows are huge in New York and the pandemic has been devastating to the industry.

This isn’t the first time Broadway has fallen on hard times – and it’s the subject of a new documentary.

Broadway is selling tickets again and vaccinations and masks are mandatory. Many wonder if tourism is just a fraction of what it used to be, can shows fill theaters?

But the pandemic is not the first challenge for the theater district.

“This neighborhood was a crime scene, I mean things were so bad, as our story begins, the police were handing out flyers telling people to get off the streets after dark, which is not not too good for the theater business,” said Oren Jacoby. .

Jacoby has directed the new documentary “On Broadway” which chronicles the ups and downs of the last five or six decades of New York theater.

The film details the shabby Times Square of the 60s, 70s and 80s that nearly destroyed Broadway.

He also evokes the AIDS crisis which deprived the theater of its richest talents.

“A whole generation of great artists, directors, choreographers, writers, actors, dancers, Michael Bennett who was responsible for bringing Broadway back…with plays like ‘A Chorus Line’, ‘Dream Girls’, he’s dead of AIDS, he was just one of hundreds of great artists,” Jacoby said.

But Broadway survived and recovered over time. Jacoby says people will come back this time too.

“Broadway continues to reinvent itself, you know it continues to find new ways to touch the heart of what people are concerned about right now and so Broadway will find a way to respond to this moment,” Jacoby said.

The film shows how New York theater has responded to previous challenges with innovation.

“A Chorus Line” was groundbreaking in 1975 just as the hip hop musical “Hamilton” was groundbreaking in 2015 and they both reinvigorated the theater of their time.

Jacoby says artists always find a way.

RELATED | Broadway theaters announce COVID vaccine and mask requirements to audiences

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