Kevin Adams' Tony Award-winning lighting for Spring Awakening set the stage for a short one-act starring NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the stage of the Eugene O'Neil Theatre this morning. Actually a press conference for the new 'Broadway Goes Green' initiative, Bloomberg appeared with Broadway characters who are already "green" —Elphaba from Wicked, Nicky (a cute green puppet) from Avenue Q, and the monster from Young Frankenstein, as well as a chorus in green and white shirts who sang the song, "Broadway's Going Green" by Neil Benjamin and Seth Rudetsky. Additional speakers included Nina Lannan, chair of The Broadway League, David Stone, producer of Wicked and special guests included Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League.
Mayor Bloomberg pointed out how appropriate it was to hold Broadway's "green awakening" on the stage of Spring Awakening as part of the city's overall commitment to a "greener, greater New York, and to turning the Great White Way green." The 39 Broadway theatres have engaged to help cut the city's carbon footprint by 30% by the year 2030 as part of PlaNYC (in NYC only 20% of the problem comes from transportation, the other 80% from buildings which need to be made more energy efficient and less polluting). Theatres have begun the process by changing over 10,000 marquee and lobby lights to low-energy lamps and compact fluorescents, and recycling as much as possible, even the discarded Palybills. "Broadway's stages fuel dreams and help fuel the city's ecomony," said the mayor.
Nina Lannen pointed out that today was the beginning of a new greener era on Broadway, as she took a moment to remember theatre impresario Gerald Schoenfeld, who passed away earlier this morning, and noted his hard work to save the Broadway theatres and create a vibrant theatre community. David Stone added that "there are greener ways to run our shows, and our goal is to bring the theatre community together to work on this important effort. If the owners make the theatres green, it's up to the producers to make the shows green."
The mayor fielded questions from the audience, many of whom were members of the press, and he replied not only about the green initiative but also about the economy, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama.
The press release for the event (posted at www.nyc.gov) noted: "As part of Broadway Goes Green, production shops are offering environmentally preferable materials and are developing plans to recycle or reuse scenery, costumes are being washed in cold water whenever feasible, and re-chargeable batteries are used in sound equipment whenever possible. Further, touring shows are offsetting the carbon emissions from transporting their equipment through investments in new wind and renewable power projects. Broadway theaters will also hand out tip cards to tell their audiences the things they can do to reduce their carbon footprint at home. Wicked has also reviewed and revised its behind-the-scenes production activity to adopt greener practices."
Also in the audience was Bob Usdin of Showman Fabricators, who is one the Broadway Goes Green pre-production committee, and an activist for the cause.
Related article: How Green Is Green