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The Great White Way Goes Green with NRDC

Kate Slusark

Posted November 26, 2008

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Just hours after the sad news that Broadway icon Gerald Schoenfeld passed away, Mayor Bloomberg took the stage of the O'Neill Theater to announce a plan that would have made Gerry proud - Broadway is "greening itself" by making its operations more environmentally friendly.

The mayor told the crowd he had second thoughts about coming to the theater yesterday, after hearing Gerry - a dear friend and Broadway legend - had passed. That changed, however, when he spoke to Gerry's wife, who told him - in true Broadway fashion - Gerry would've wanted the show to go on.

And so it did. From the set of "Spring Awakening," Mayor Bloomberg announced Broadway's "green awakening" - made possible by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).


Yes, the Great White Way has gone green. The news was ushered in with an original song written by Tony nominated composer/lyricist Nell Benjamin and radio host/Broadway personality Seth Rudetsky - and performed by a host of Broadway performers (watch video of the performance from the City of New York's website here - song starts at about minute 21:30). It was complete with cameos from Elphaba from Wicked, Frank from Young Frankenstein and Nicky from Avenue Q - all of whom are (literally) green Broadway characters themselves.


NRDC Senior Scientist Dr. Allen Hershkowitz - the environmental voice behind Broadway's greening process, though not singing or wearing green makeup, took the stage as well. Allen has been the driving and guiding force behind helping Broadway go green. He's also the man behind several similar "greening" projects - including Major League Baseball, the U.S. Open, the Oscars and the Grammys.


Allen told the crowd at the O'Neill Theater that one of the great things about improving Broadway's carbon footprint - in New York and in the 240 cities that host traveling shows around the country - is that theatergoers won't even be able to see the difference, outside from more visible recycling facilities. Broadway can better its practices without compromising the production quality that gives it its reputation. Greening is indeed largely behind the scenes.

Among the changes - 10 of the 39 Broadway theaters have already replaced the lighting on their marquees with energy efficient bulbs, and 14 others are on their way. For specifics on the other steps Broadway is taking to go green - from washing costumes in cold water and recycling stage sets to purchasing carbon offsets - go to:

In his remarks to the crowd yesterday, Wicked Producer David Stone remembered Gerry Schoenfeld for always setting the right example for the Broadway community - both within the industry and outside of it. He recounted a time when Gerry took him to lunch after Wicked became a hit, and recalled he told him that he now had a responsibility to find ways to give back. It was always with those words in mind, David said, that he approached his role in greening Broadway.

NOTE: To find out what you can do to be a greener Broadway fan, check out these 10 easy tips from NRDC.

(Photos courtesy of the City of New York)






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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

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