113007Times%20Square.jpgWhen the stagehands’ strike ended late Wednesday night, the general consensus was that not all Broadway productions would be able to pull it together in time for Thursday night re-openings. But as it turned out, all 27 strike-darkened shows were up and running last night, despite the challenges that larger productions faced after 19 dormant days. Chicago, for instance, had two stars joining the cast – Vincent Pastore and Aida Turturro of “The Sopranos” – who hadn’t even rehearsed together. And, as the Times reports, there were a lot of technical elements to dust off for shows like Wicked:

Mr. Overton [Wicked’s lead carpenter] turned around and bellowed into his headset, “Bridge coming in!” Behind him, a giant black bridge appeared onstage, and Mr. Overton rushed off to check on it. “What was that awful noise?” another stagehand asked him. “Is that bad?” Mr. Overton sounded as if he had forgotten what the mechanics of the show sound like after 19 days away. “No,” he said, “I think it’s normal.”

If not quite normal, Broadway was at least busy again, and charged with an added level of excitement after such a long shutdown – the longest since the 25 day musicians’ strike in 1975. Everyone from producers to ticket buyers to theater district merchants were openly elated to finally be back in business. Perhaps hot dog vendor Hicham Sahraoui put it best to the Times, “I’m very happy we can all start making some money again.”

To celebrate, the producers are holding a free concert at noon today at the Marquis Theatre (1535 Broadway at 45th St), current home of The Drowsy Chaperone. Called "Broadway's Back," the show will feature cast members from every Broadway production, as well as Tony Award winners Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Bob Martin and "American Idol" winner Fantasia. Admission is on a first come, first served basis; the doors open at 11:30am. And a number of area restaurants are offering discounts to diners who present a same-day Broadway theater ticket. There are also special ticket prices available at the moment.

Photo of Times Square by Daniella Zalcman.