KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Jeff Lunden

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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

After 18 months, the first two musicals are returning to Broadway – Hadestown and Waitress – and over the course of the next several weeks, many more will reopen.

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.

The pandemic shut down most summer music festivals last year and Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, was no exception. But on July 10 the BSO returned, with an all-Beethoven program featuring pianist Emanuel Ax.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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.

Indoor theater has been shuttered in New York City for more than a year, due to safety concerns associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

But there are indications of slow movement on this front.

Friday is opening night for Blindness at the off-Broadway Daryl Roth Theatre. At a recent preview, there was a short line outside the theater, where invited patrons waited to see the show — a piece based on a novel by José Saramago.

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

Every year, as a set-up for the Tony Awards, we take you backstage to meet people who aren't even eligible. These are Broadway's essential workers – ushers, stage managers, costumers. But this year, the Tonys seem like a faraway dream; even though nominations for the shortened season were announced in October, no date has been set. So, I decided to check in with some of those essential workers I've interviewed before, to find out how they've been coping since theaters closed.

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.

In 2012, when he was already well into his 80s, Christopher Plummer told NPR that he was busier than he had been in a long time – and that was OK with him. "You never stop learning how to act, both on screen and on the stage," he said. "I feel like I'm starting all over again. Every sort of decade I feel this, and that's very satisfying."

The Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor died Friday at his home in Connecticut. He was 91.

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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

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.

A slender, dark-haired young man walks along the windblown Scottish coast, picking up stones and discovering the ruins of a cottage. The young man is mentalist Scott Silven, and you are about to go on a journey with him.

Silven has toured the world delighting audiences with seemingly impossible illusions. But with the pandemic confining him to his home in Scotland, he hatched a new interactive online show, commissioned by nine arts centers around the world.

Pages