MIDTOWN — Broadway’s biggest stars gathered in Times Square Friday to mark the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in song.
Blocks from where police had set up checkpoints, searching cars following the latest terror threat, stars including Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Grey and cast members from more than a dozen shows belted out the city’s pre-Jay-Z anthem, "New York, New York” in a reprise of the touching performance that took place nearly a decade ago.
Shortly after the attacks, the same group gathered in an effort to inspire the city to return to normalcy and tell the world that life — like the show — goes on.
"I think it just shows how the very worst in humanity can bring out the best in humanity," said firefighter Mike Meyers, 42, a member of Engine 54, Battalion 9, the “Pride of Midtown,” which lost more men in the attacks than any other.
Meyers, one of four firefighters in the audience, which also included several victims’ family members, said he was touched by the performance and its message.
"These people just proved that everyone remembers," he said.
The event was staged in part to support the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance through 9/11 Day’s “I Will” campaign, which is encouraging citizens to use the day to perform good deeds.
“I Will” co-founder Jay Winuk lost his brother, Glenn, at 40, when the volunteer firefighter rushed from his law office a block-and-a-half from Ground Zero try to help people escape before the South Tower collapsed.
“It’s life-affirming to me,” he said of the performance. “People need some joy in their lives and this is joyous.”
Tony Award-winning actor Brian Stokes Mitchell, who finished his run in the lighthearted "Kiss Me, Kate" shortly before 9/11, said at first he dismissed former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to urge people back to the theater to see Broadway shows.
“There’s important things to be done,” he thought. But soon he began to realize the role that Broadway could play as he began to meet rescue workers inspired by the shows.
“Thank you for giving me that," they'd tell him. "I haven’t laughed in months,” he said.
Jennifer Perry, who plays Rosie in "Mamma Mia!," said that many of the performers who took part in Friday's song were in tears by the end.
“It’s amazing the feeling of unity. Such a feeling of strength,” she said, adding that the performance sent a powerful message in light of the recent terror threats.
“We’re not afraid. And we’re still strong,” she said. “We’re not going to run and hide.”
Kara DioGuardi, who served as a judge on "American Idol" and is now appearing in "Chicago," said it was an honor to join the cast.
“I think it was such a great event to celebrate the people that we lost,” she said, before posing for a picture in her tiny, sequined black dress with the men of Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9.