It was a typical two-show Saturday at Come Fly Away. Our matinee performance had gone well and the cast and crew were trickling back into the theatre following our dinner break, readying ourselves for the evening show. A few performers were chatting in the green room when one of the returning dancers announced that a smoking SUV was parked nearby and police were starting to gather.
We soon learned from our theatre’s doorman that there was, in fact, a bomb in an SUV that was parked on West 45th Street, directly in front of our stage door. Furthermore, Times Square had been evacuated, and the Marriott Marquis Theatre was on lock-down; nobody could come in, nobody could go out. This meant that about half of our ticket-holders were locked outside the theatre, while those who had already made it inside were, quite literally, a captive audience. Since our entire cast and crew were safely inside the building, our show would go on as scheduled.
Knowing that a bomb had been placed at our doorstep was deeply unsettling, but we didn’t have time to dwell on our fears; we had a show to do. The curtain rose with a drum roll, then Frank Sinatra’s whiskey-and-velvet baritone filled the theatre. I remember thinking that our audience members were probably at least as uneasy as we performers were about the smoking SUV outside our doors. I resolved to do my utmost to set aside my own trepidation and give my all to our performance.
As I walked onto the bandstand to sing my first number, I noticed the man in the front row. He looked to be in his late 60s and was sitting alone. As he watched the show unfold, the only thing sparkling more than his eyes was the vest he wore, which was covered with sequins. We in the cast were delighted by our sparkly front-row friend’s rapt gaze and vigorous applause. He, too, seemed resolved to eschew anxiety in favor of fully enjoying the razzle-dazzle of a Broadway show.
May 1, 2010 began as a typical Saturday on Broadway, but quickly became yet another day in which I was proud and grateful to be a New Yorker. The watchful eyes of a t-shirt vendor and swift response of the NYPD (along with the utter ineptitude of the would-be bomber) prevented chaos and destruction. Meanwhile, with Times Square eerily empty and silent, the Broadway community of performers, crew members, and theatergoers refused to be terrorized. Instead, we did what New Yorkers do in times of fear and unrest: we suited up and went on with the show.
Nothing–nothing–can diminish the courage, joy, and razzle-dazzle that define New York City. I still love New York, today and every day.