By Rachel Yang
April 05, 2021 at 12:51 AM EDT

Tony Award winners Nathan Lane and Savion Glover took the stage at the St. James Theatre on Saturday, marking the first performance inside a Broadway theater since COVID shut down New York City venues last year.

Lane performed Playbills, a new monologue by playwright Paul Rudnick, about a man who has spent the last year cooped up in his studio apartment, laid off from his job, and desperately missing his greatest passion: going to the theater. Glover performed a tap piece that channeled his personal experience in theater and encouraged the audience to reflect on the past, present, and future of Broadway.

Broadway opened its doors to audiences as part NY PopsUp, the ongoing statewide initiative aimed at celebrating and reinvigorating the arts in New York. The special event was part of the pilot program created by The Festival as a large-scale model for how to bring live performance back safely after the prolonged COVID shutdown.

Lane and Glover performed in front of a socially distanced audience made up of primarily frontline workers affiliated with the Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The back-to-back performances were directed by four-time Tony winner Jerry Zaks.

To ensure the health and safety of attendees and workers, NY PopsUp and the St. James Theatre worked with the New York State Department of Health to follow state health and safety protocols.  

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously announced NY PopsUp's Feb. 20 launch date. It will run through Labor Day​, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival and the opening of Little Island at Pier 55.

The initial announcement listed stars like Hugh JackmanAlec Baldwin, Chris RockMatthew BroderickSarah Jessica Parker, Patti Smith, Mandy Patinkin, Kenan Thompson, Q-Tip, Billy Porter, and more as participants.

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