NEW YORK - After 18 months in the dark due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great White Way is coming back to life.
"I'm thrilled Broadway is opening up, New York is opening back up," said Jenny Milanosk, who came from Boston for the return of Broadway.
The curtains will once again rise for Broadway's long-running powerhouse shows. Company members from Hamilton, Wicked, and The Lion King as well as actor-playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda serenaded fans from outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre in an emotional rendition of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," and thanked them for their continuous support.
"Today is a phenomenal day for Broadway because when Broadway returns, New York returns," Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin said. "And the 97,000 workers of Broadway return back to work."
Theaters will be at full capacity. However, proof of vaccination and masks are required.
Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller said it is a small price to pay for the thousands of people who can finally get back to doing what they love.
"I have those chills running up and down my spine because we've never lost so much and tonight we get to win it all back," he said.
The TKTS discount ticket booth in Times Square also reopened on Tuesday.
Nearby businesses on once-deserted streets are finally seeing some more foot traffic. After all, Times Square generates 15% of New York City's entire annual economic output.
"Most of the bars around the area have been really slow without Broadway and with Broadway opening up again, I'm excited for business to pick up again, people to come around the area again," said Jorge Calixto, a manager at West End Bar and Grill.
Jimmy Nederlander, CEO of the Nederlander organization, told Good Day New York that he is optimistic about the industry's return, despite ongoing concerns about the delta variant.
"Broadway is not only back but we're charting numbers well before COVID," he said. "Hamilton has a $40 million advance right now, which is humongous."
The numbers signal that the best of Broadway is yet to come.