Reversing its earlier decision, The Broadway League decided to dim the lights on Broadway on Tuesday in honor of Joan Rivers after receiving an avalanche of objections.
“Joan Rivers loved Broadway and we loved her. Due to the outpouring of love and respect for Joan Rivers from our community and from her friends and fans worldwide, the marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in her memory, at exactly 6:45 pm for one minute,” Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement.
“This is why I love being an American: We saw an injustice, and because we’re allowed to in this country, we spoke up and righted the wrong,” said Tom D’Angora, the producer of “NEWSical: The Musical” and “Naked Boys Singing.”
D’Angora started an online petition Monday night demanding the lights be dimmed for Rivers, who was nominated for a 1994 Best Actress Tony for “Sally Marr … And Her Escorts,” and appeared on Broadway in three productions. While D’Angora did not begrudge lights being turned down for people such as writer/composer Mary Rodgers Guettel and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner after their deaths, he insisted that Rivers, a “great champion of our community” deserved similar respect.
Rivers died last week at the age of 81.
More than 5,000 people signed the Care2 petition in less than 20 hours, many with comments sniping at the League’s seemingly arbitrary criteria and noting Rivers’ devotion as not just a performer, but a patron. “Ridiculous this is even a question,” wrote Gregory Piccoli.
“I am madly in love with my community right now: I want to make out with every single member of the Broadway community,” D’Angora said of his victory, before heading out the door of his Hell’s Kitchen apartment to cast his vote in the state primaries.
The blackout for Rivers on Tuesday night “is now the most talked about Broadway dimming in history: Joan would have had it no other way,” said D’Angora. The lights off-Broadway, he said, will be dimmed, too.