Jeff Lunden

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage has been very busy for the last few months – right now, she has both a new play and a new musical on Broadway, as well as a new opera at Lincoln Center Theater. I sat down with Nottage last month at the Hayes Theatre, where her new comedy, Clyde's, is being performed.

Back in 1985, Lily Tomlin made a splash on Broadway in a one-person play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, written by her now wife, Jane Wagner. Playing a dozen characters, Tomlin won a Tony Award, starred in a film version, and triumphally returned to Broadway in 2000. Now, the play is being revived again, off-Broadway, starring Saturday Night Live performer Cecily Strong.

After being silenced by COVID-19 for a year and a half, Broadway roared back in the fall — only to be tripped up by the omicron variant in the past couple of weeks. At one point, half the shows on Broadway were canceled. And the ones that soldiered on often did with understudies, swings and standbys: people whose job is to perform at a moment's notice to make sure the show goes on.

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Updated December 17, 2021 at 7:49 PM ET

Last fall, when theaters were closed, I spoke with three artistic directors of nonprofit organizations to talk about their hopes for what things would look like, once the pandemic began to die down. Now, with vaccines and strict COVID protocols, all three theaters have begun performances again. So, I reached out to these leaders to see how things have changed.

Like all performing arts organizations, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater stopped giving in-person concerts in March 2020. During the pandemic, they created online content. Now, two of the pieces that were conceived for streaming are being put onstage, as the company returns to New York's City Center.

Updated November 26, 2021 at 6:18 PM ET

Stephen Sondheim, the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Broadway songwriter has died at age 91. His death occurred early this morning, according to Aaron Meier at DKC O&M, the producers of Company on Broadway.

The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice has inspired operas from the beginning of the art form, more than 400 years ago. Tonight, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City plays host to a new iteration: Eurydice, based on a 2003 play by Sarah Ruhl. The music is by Matthew Aucoin, who also has a new book about opera being published next month.

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Most of us have snapshots of ourselves as infants. But pianist Simone Dinnerstein has a different kind of baby picture. Her father, Simon, included her, sitting on her mother's lap, in The Fulbright Triptych, an enormous 14-foot-wide painting.

There's a sigh of relief on Broadway, these days – shows are reopening, and bars and restaurants in Times Square are filling up. And tonight, more than 15 months after they were originally scheduled, the 74th Annual Tony Awards will be presented. Previous winners Leslie Odom Jr. and Audra McDonald will host, with appearances from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chita Rivera and Kristin Chenoweth, among others. But these pandemic Tonys are by no means business as usual.

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The costume industry in New York was hit hard by the pandemic — over 500 people who work as patternmakers, stitchers, beaders, milliners and painters were idled, as theater and film production shut down. A new exhibition called Showstoppers!: Spectacular Costumes from Stage and Screen has opened on 42nd Street, in the heart of the theater district, to show off their work.

Updated August 5, 2021 at 12:07 PM ET

On Wednesday evening, for the first time in almost 17 months, a new play began performances on Broadway. Called Pass Over, the play combines elements of Samuel Beckett's existential drama, Waiting for Godot, with the Exodus story from the Bible as it looks at two young Black men dreaming of a better tomorrow in a world of police violence.

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The U.S. Congress this week established Juneteenth, a commemoration observed in communities and cities across the country for more than 150 years to mark the day slaves in Texas were informed of their freedom, as an officially recognized federal holiday. Celebrations being held all over the country on June 19 likely will assume an added sense of occasion.

If you wanted to see a musical on the Great White Way in 1921 — that name came about because of the electric lights on Broadway but was true about the color of the actors and audience — you could see a European-influenced operetta or a splashy Ziegfeld revue.

New York's Lincoln Center, as people gather for its reopening on Monday, May 10.
Jeff Lunden / NPR

The performing arts

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo upstaged the Broadway League on Monday. Industry insiders expected the trade organization, which represents theater owners and producers, to say that some Broadway shows would reopen in September with more coming back during the fall. But at a press conference Cuomo beat them to it, lifting most capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, museums, gyms, salons and retail shops by May 19. That list also included Broadway.

Just before The Akron School for the Arts went remote due to the coronavirus in spring 2020, the cast of A Chorus Line made a video of the show's big ballad, "What I Did for Love," just in case t

Updated at 9:46 p.m. ET

A union representing 800 backstage workers at New York's Metropolitan Opera began a publicity campaign today urging donors and government entities to withdraw support for the company because of a labor dispute.

On Jan. 25, 1996, a new rock musical by a little-known writer, Jonathan Larson, gave its first performance. Friends and family filed into a small off-Broadway theater to see Rent. The show was a retelling of La Boheme, set on the Lower East Side of New York, as people were dying of AIDS. It became an international phenomenon, winning the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award, among others, but the performance almost didn't happen. Early that morning, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm. I spoke with some of the people who were there that night.

With his trademark suspenders and deep baritone voice Larry King spoke with presidents, world leaders, celebrities, authors, scientists, comedians, athletes — everyone. The Peabody Award-winning broadcaster died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 87.

The death of the famed interviewer was announced on King's Twitter feed in a posting from his production studio, Ora Media. No cause of death was provided, but King had recently been hospitalized with COVID-19.

Broadway star Rebecca Luker has died of complications from ALS. She and her husband also had COVID-19 earlier this year.

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Tony-winning legend and dance icon Ann Reinking died on Saturday, family members confirmed to news outlets on Monday. She was 71.

"The world and our family have lost a vibrant, amazing talent and beautiful soul. Ann was the heart of our family and the life of the party," her family said in a statement, as reported by Variety.

Normally, family audiences would be flocking to see A Christmas Carol at Chicago's Goodman Theatre at this time of year. But as we all know, 2020 is anything but normal, especially when it comes to holiday traditions.

The Goodman has been putting on the Dickens work for 40 years. Boston's Handel and Haydn Society has presented the Messiah during the holiday season since 1854. And then, of course, there's The Nutcracker, a staple for ballet companies.

Even this spring, when New York City was at the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S, the city's public parks never closed. Instead, they became a place where people went for a socially distanced refuge, often escaping into music with their headphones. Ellen Reid has taken that experience one step further: The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer has written new music for a GPS-enabled app called Soundwalk, specifically designed to accompany walks around Central Park.

Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater in New York, knows firsthand about the coronavirus. Eustis was hospitalized with COVID on March 10, and by the time he was released five days later, everything was shut down. "I came out into a world that had no theater, and it's a different world," he says.