W42ST Daily 6/30/2020

Dear friends and neighbors,

There has been some – shall we say lively – debate on social media recently, much of it focused on a post we published from Restaurant Row at the weekend which featured large numbers of people sheltering from the rain, many of whom were not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing.

While documenting scenes from Hell’s Kitchen, as the neighborhood emerges from lockdown – like Kimmy Schmidt emerging from the bunker, eyes blinking in the sunlight, giddy at the newness of it all – we have taken the position of impartial observer. However, we recognize that is not always enough, So, as we celebrate the gradual opening of Hell’s Kitchen after three months of devastating closures, let’s make this crystal clear: we want you to be safe. We NEED you to be safe. We’ll continue to do whatever we can to support the commercial and creative infrastructure of Hell’s Kitchen, but not wearing a mask and gathering in large crowds doesn’t just threaten a second wave; it threatens the very businesses we want to see survive. 

The country is still in the middle of a pandemic. People are still dying, without any cure or vaccine in sight. A second lockdown is inconceivable. So do the right thing: keep six feet away from people you don’t live with. And, when you can’t do that, wear a mask.

When Benjamin Hey first wrote ‘God Where You At?’ – a song he says is one of the most honest, most raw he’s ever had to write – he’d already been penning a new piece of music every day for more than three years.

As the pandemic took hold, and each day’s news held another grim piece of the puzzle – the virus affects older people; it disproportionately hits people of color; but some younger people can get it too – he said it felt like a boogeyman we didn’t know anything about. “And there was the economic fallout. It was a lot,” he says. “I was like, ‘God, where you at? I’m looking for you. I can’t find you.’”

Then Ahmaud Arbery was shot by two white men while he was out jogging. Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her bed after three plain clothes police officers broke into her house in a bungled drugs sting. And George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, who knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

And Benjamin had to rewrite the lyrics. “‘Can’t jog, can’t breathe, can’t be, can’t stand. They treat me like I’m less than human.’ It was like stuff I’d heard about from history, from slavery, before Civil Rights. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, this stuff is still happening in 2020? That’s crazy.’

In today’s W42ST, he talks about “pretty privilege,” protest, and coming out as queer to his proud Black father. This is his compelling story.

As we’re now facing a New York without Broadway until at least 2021, get your fix with this stream of Gloria: A Life, a play about feminist icon Gloria Steinem, told by an all-female cast including Emmy winner Christine Lahti, and directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus. Watch it here.

Carnegie Hall presents a virtual performance from pianist Daniil Trifonov at 2pm today.

Spaceship Earth is the true adventure story about eight visionaries who, in 1991, spent two years quarantined in a replica of Earth’s ecosystem called Biosphere 2. Both bizarre, and a cautionary tale. It costs $3.99 to rent, which will support the Guggenheim’s work. Rent it here.

Look into the long-term future of live theater at this special virtual TedXBroadway conversation today. It’s free … and fascinating!

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gloria Estefan, and other Latinx stars will join Ballet Hispanico’s Noche Unidos, celebrating is 50th anniversary tonight.

I went to a Daybreaker event once. It was Halloween, and it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life, turning up in full costume at 7.30am to dance on a party boat. They’re back tomorrow – virtually. And if this doesn’t get your energy up for the day ahead, nothing will. Expect yoga, dance, and special performances (costs $15).