Broadway performers demonstrate against gun violence in Times Square

New York City Artists and others gather in New York City Artists and others gather in Times Square to call attention to gun violence by holding a flash mob in which they raised their hands in the air, lay on the ground then drew chalk outlines of each other. (Feb. 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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Lorin Latarro wanted to make a statement about gun violence. So the 35-year-old dancer and choreographer decided to put on a show, with a Broadway cast.

on Sunday afternoon, about 100 volunteer performers -- including singers, dancers and crew members from productions including "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark," "Chicago" and "Annie" -- converged on Times Square for a flash mob that aimed to demonstrate the effects of gun violence.

After falling to the ground in unison, the group left behind dozens of chalked silhouettes, each inscribed with a word like "suicide" or "murder," or the name of a gun violence victim. Then, they took off for matinees.

"Everybody went to their half-hour call," Latarro said. "They ran to their theater."

Latarro, who's currently associate choreographer for a musical called "Hands on a Hardbody," got the idea for her display in the wake of the Newtown school shootings.

"I felt that this was the time," she said. "We really need to speak up as Americans, and ask for what we want."

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She recruited friends through Facebook, created a Twitter account and worked with anti-gun-violence groups to publicize the demonstration. The result was a healthy turnout of Broadway performers and staff, with a smattering of others.

Sonya Wysocki, 40, came with a fellow crew member from "Spider-Man."

She said she'd thought of her 14-year-old niece and 5-year-old nephew after recent shootings, which motivated her to make the early trip into Manhattan from Queens despite being "a little reluctant" to pull herself out of bed.

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"What if I got the phone call saying that something like this had happened to them?" Wysocki said. "It's preventable."

Latarro's goal was simply to get people's attention -- she said she didn't want to be overtly political.

"I just wanted to something that would elicit a sense of empathy," she said. "If I can have one person change their mind on this, then I have succeeded."

The group did have an agenda, though: Each performer was given a tiny slip of paper with the phone number for the U.S. Capitol switchboard, and instructions to call it to push for gun control measures.

The participants began just after 1 p.m. by raising both hands -- then slowly melted to the sidewalk. In pairs, they traced their outlines, and inscribed them with the "trigger words" Latarro had assigned. Then, they walked away, leaving a small sea of cartoon bodies ringed by curious tourists.

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Given that the outlines were in chalk, and the brevity of the performance itself, the impact of the protest was clearly ephemeral. But that, said participant Jennifer Dunne, was part of its power.

"I think it's a beautiful, simple statement," said Dunne, who performs in the musical "Chicago." "It will leave a mark -- until it rains."

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