Just a stone’s throw away from the Hudson River, in downtown Yonkers, a 175,000-square-foot studio is abuzz with carpenters, electricians, engineers, painters, and welders — all working to resurrect Broadway in style. They’re part of Hudson Scenic Studio, a 40-plus-year-old company that has built some of the Great White Way’s most iconic sets, including The Lion King, Aladdin, and Hamilton, among countless others.
But like all theatrical businesses, Hudson Scenic was pummeled by COVID. “We shut down when Broadway shut down, in March 2020 to July 4, 2020,” explains lead production manager Carrie Winkler. Luckily, when they reopened, they started building stage sets for national tours of productions such as Hadestown, Oklahoma, and Ain’t Too Proud, while the return of Broadway remained undetermined.
The hiatus gave them an opportunity to rehab equipment in long-running shows, like The Lion King, which needed maintenance and repair. “It would have been complicated, expensive, and executed on overnight calls, after the performance, if there wasn’t a dark time,” Winkler says. For companies such as Hudson Scenic, supply-chain issues, even for basic materials, remain a problem, forcing the adjustment of production timelines to ensure that the sets are ready for opening night.
But with Broadway reemerging, the company is moving full speed ahead, working on sets for the newly reopened Freestyle Love Supreme and Mrs. Doubtfire, scheduled to open next month. “We are starting to get busy again,” notes Winkler with a smile. After all, the show must go on.