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Broadway League backs down, agrees to honour Joan Rivers

NEW YORK – The Broadway League, which represents theatre owners and producers, has reversed itself and will ask theatres to dim their lights in honour of Joan Rivers.

The league had said Monday that Rivers did not meet the criteria for the honour, triggering a controversy when several theatre owners said they would turn off their marquee lights Tuesday anyway. An online petition was launched and several celebrities came out in favour of granting the honour.

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The league changed course Tuesday afternoon, saying the lights would dim at 6:45 p.m. for one minute.

“Joan Rivers loved Broadway and we loved her,” Charlotte St. Martin, the league’s executive director, said in a statement. “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 tonight.”

Rivers, who died Thursday at 81, was known primarily as a TV actress and comedian, though she was seen as a champion of Broadway and off-Broadway shows and earned a Tony Award nomination.

Before the league’s reversal, 10 theatres — out of 40 — were set to break with the league and dim their lights.

Theater producer Tom D’Angora had started an online petition asking the league to reverse its decision.

“I promise you, the majority of the community wants to thank and honour her,” said D’Angora, who has produced the off-Broadway shows NEWSical and Naked Boys Singing. ”She did so much. She was such an outspoken champion.”

“I can’t believe we can be denied the last chance to show respect and thank her. I also think if you watch her interviews and documentaries, this would hurt her feelings,” he added. “Plus, how hard is it to hit a dimmer switch?”

A spokeswoman for the Rivers family said they were in mourning and didn’t want to comment.

The controversy triggered the creation of the 桑拿会所 hashtags #dimthelightsforJoan and #Dim4Joan. Celebrities including Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein and Donna Murphy came out in favour of the honour.

Rivers wrote and starred in the 1971 quick-to-close Fun City, was in Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound in 1988, and wrote and starred in Sally Marr … and Her Escorts in 1994, where she earned her Tony nod.

Some celebrities who have been recently granted the honour include Philip Seymour Hoffman and James Gandolfini, whose TV and film careers often overshadowed their theatre contributions.

Broadway stars came out in force for Rivers’ funeral on Sunday, including Audra McDonald, who sang “Smile,” and Hugh Jackman, who sang “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady On Stage.” In attendance were theatre stars such as Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune.

©2014The Associated Press

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