By Dave Carlin

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Saturday was a historic day on the road to reopening.

The first performance on a Broadway stage was held, since the doors closed over a year ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, the pop-up show featured two Broadway giants.

“This is really exciting and I’m so glad to be part of it,” Judith Rice sad.

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Rice, the president of the Actor’s Equity Foundation, was in the middle of New York’s back-to-Broadway experiment.

She was inside the St. James Theater, along with 149 others, their seats chosen to safely scatter them throughout the house.

COVID VACCINE

The performance was mostly for front-line medical and health care workers.

“All we’ve been doing is working, working and this COVID got everybody down. This is excellent,” said Zana McDowell of Paterson, New Jersey.

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McDowell, a home health aide, showed proof she’s vaccinated. She then went through a security screening and up to her seat in plenty of time before the start of a show starring two Tony Award winners.

First on the stage was Savion Glover, followed by Nathan Lane.

“They wanted to show their appreciation to us and we felt the love back and fort,” McDowell said.

So it wound up being the two veteran performers in the show that lasted less than an hour, resulting in those lucky audience members walking out of a theater as though they were walking on air, Carlin reported.

“It was everything that I hoped it would be and more,” Rice said.

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All 41 Broadway houses shut down on March 12, 2020. Saturday was described as a baby step in a complicated journey to bring everyone home to live theater.

“This isn’t just about the performers or the audience; it’s also about the ushers reuniting and all of the community it takes to make the space as beautiful and welcoming as it always has been,” said Zack Winokur, the artistic director for NY Pops Up.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Larger, complex Broadway productions are expected to return in the fall. Until then, look for more pop-ups like Saturday’s to keep fleshing out the possibilities.

The St. James was chosen because the theater is big and has a modern HVAC system with new air filters.

Dave Carlin