Just as Broadway stars did 10 years ago, theater legends Joel Grey, Bebe Neuwirth and others gathered this afternoon in Times Square to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and perform once again the Kander and Ebb song, “New York, New York.”
Introduced by Grey, the performance featured the casts of Book of Mormon and Billy Elliott, as well as celebs such as former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi. Gavin Lodge, a performer with Priscilla: Queen of the Desert said, “It’s an honor to be here today. Singing ‘New York, New York’ in Times Square – it’s iconic.”
Talking to the packed Times Square crowd prior to the performance, Broadway League chairman Paul Libin and Times Square Alliance chairman Bob Wankel spoke about the power of Broadway to make people forget their troubles and have a laugh. David Paine and Jay Winuk, co-founders of My Good Deed, Inc., spoke about their desire to turn 9/11 into a day of service – and it seems to be working. “Over 33 million Americans have pledged to volunteer on Sunday, making it the largest day of service ever,” Winuk said.
Laura Moninski, a teacher from Illinois who was watching the performance, was touched. “I visited Ground Zero earlier today,” she told EW. “I had a friend die in one of the planes. It was nice to be out here this weekend.” She said she planned on volunteering at a food pantry on Sunday, but was surprised to learn they were already booked full, a testament to the volume of people wanting to help out.
“It’s like anything,” said Mike Meyers, a FDNY battalion chief who worked 9/11 at Ground Zero. “As the day comes closer, it’s harder. I go through every emotion; anger, sadness. 15 people from our firehouse died that day.”
It wasn’t the most upbeat event, but it was certainly moving. When the nearly 100 Broadway performers started to sing and dance to that classic tune, you could feel the energy change. Ten years later, the spirit of that community is still lifting us up, alive and well.
What will you be doing this Sunday to commemorate 9/11? To find a place that needs volunteers in your area, visit 911day.org.