By Marcia Kramer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken the first steps to restore the cultural life of New York City, ordering up hundreds of COVID-safe pop-up concerts featuring a raft of big-name stars that will also be streamed on video.

After that, it could be curtains up for Broadway, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

READ MORE: State Of The State: Gov. Cuomo Announces Pop-Up Art Performances, Says ‘The Show Will Go’ On In New York City

Hugh Jackman, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, Renee Fleming, Sarah Jessica Parker, Billy Porter and Alec Baldwin haven’t seen their names in lights on New York marquees for nearly a year. But now they’re back, ending the COVID-19 hiatus of the arts with a series of pop-up concerts that could very well turn the lights back on on Broadway.

“This is really cool and creative. Three hundred events in 100 days of pop-up performances,” Cuomo said.


The pop-ups start Feb. 20, part of a three-stage process to slowly restore the city’s cultural life. After the pop-ups, there will be a move to reopen smaller venues like the Apollo Theater, the Shed, and La Mama, and if all that goes well it’s on to the Great White Way.

“Marcia, I think that is where we are headed,” Cuomo said.

The governor said opening theaters will be done the same way he allowed spectators at the Buffalo Bills playoff games — testing before attending.

READ MORE: With Live Performances At Theaters Dark Due To Pandemic Restrictions, More Are Headed Online

“You can open the Broadway stage with a set percentage of occupants, where people have tested prior to walking in,” Cuomo said.

The governor offered no timeline, and couldn’t say whether union performers would participate in the pop-ups. There was also no specifics on how many people could be in a theater at one time.

That had Jennifer Wharton, trombonist in the “West Side Story” orchestra, playing a sour note.

“I can only imagine it’s cheaper not to have a show than it is to have one that’s half full,” Wharton said.


Kenny Seymour, the musical director of “Ain’t Too Proud,” was playing a happier tune.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction. I think it’s definitely something to look forward to, as far as bringing live entertainment, which is the heartbeat of New York City, back to New York City,” Seymour said.

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Meanwhile, Cuomo offered hearts and flowers to New York City’s restaurants, saying they can start limited indoor dining on Friday instead of Sunday. So, the Big Apple’s friends and lovers can have a whole weekend to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Marcia Kramer