Backstage at Radio City Music Hall


Volume 121, No. 11December, 2021

Dean Irwin

Radio City Music Hall RCMH

As we slowly recover from the worst theatrical shut-down the city has ever known, how many of us will actually get off our couch and stop streaming video long enough to travel into post-Covid Midtown? Has the pandemic changed performance forever? When we reflect on theatrical history, one thing is clear. Midtown has always been transitioning and changing our idea of what entertainment is—with or without a pandemic.

I grew up backstage at Radio City Music Hall and got to see a few of those transitions first-hand. My backstage pass? Both my parents were members of Local 802.

My father Will Irwin, who joined Local 802 in 1924, was the musical director of more than 30 Broadway shows in the 1940’s. He was musical director of Radio City in the 1960’s and 70s. My mother Helen Irwin, who joined Local 802 in 1938, was a harpist for several Broadway shows, including Oklahoma, where she met my dad. She was also part of a harp quartet founded by Djina Ostrowska…

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