Cheers greet reopening of three hit Broadway shows
NEW YORK (AP) – Theatrical royalty – in the form of Kristin Chenoweth, Julie Taymor and Lin-Manuel Miranda – welcomed boisterous audiences to “Wicked”, “The Lion King” and “Hamilton” for the first time since start of the pandemic, marking the unofficial return of Broadway on Tuesday.
Chenoweth surprised the crowd at “Wicked” by appearing on stage for a speech on the same stage where she became a star years ago. “There is no place like home,” she said, lifting a line from the musical. The crowd hooted, yelled and gave him a standing ovation.
Taymor, director and costume designer of “The Lion King,” praised her audience for the courage and enthusiasm to lead the way. “The theater, as we know, is the lifeblood and soul of the city,” she said. “It’s time for us to relive. And Miranda from “Hamilton” summed up the sentiment of a lot of people when he said, “I never want to take live theater for granted.”
“The Lion King,” “Hamilton” and “Wicked” all staked Tuesday to reopen together in early May after then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo chose September 14 for Broadway to begin hosting at again the audience at full capacity.
The show trio were beaten by the Bruce Springsteen concert in June and the opening of the new piece “Pass Over” on August 22, as well as the reopening of two major musicals – “Hadestown” and “Waitress”.
But the return of the three musicals – the spiritual anchors of modern Broadway success – as well as the return of long-standing “Chicago” and the reopening of the iconic TKTS booth, both also on Tuesday, are important signals that Broadway is back. . , despite the pressure and uncertainty of the spread of the delta variant.
The crowd practically blew up the roofs of the three theaters. At “Wicked” they stood up and applauded the dim lights, the welcome announcement, Chenoweth’s arrival and departure, the opening notes of the first song and several moments during that song, especially when Glinda said, “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?”
At “The Lion King,” the opening song “The Circle of Life” was practically drowned out by cheers and applause, while every “Hamilton” star had to take a break to let the entrance applause s ‘switch off enough to be heard again.
Linda Diane Polichetti, a Hamilton usher, said she was proud to return to work. “I’m just happy to be back because the world I was in, I didn’t recognize it,” she said. “I love my show. I love my casting.
Ticket holders for all three mega-hits had to prove that they were fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine and masks must be worn at all times except when eating or drinking in designated areas .
Vaccine checkers clad in shiny T-shirts inspected phones and cards as the crowds made their way to the theaters. “Thank you for getting the vaccine and wearing a mask,” Miranda said, with a yell of approval. Crowds complied very well with the new rules, only lowering their masks for the mandatory selfie. Taymor joked in his speech that artists often wear masks. “Guess what? You can wear masks tonight.
Ahead of the shows, Miranda, Taymor, and “Wicked” songwriter Stephen Schwartz pointed out that Broadway has security protocols in place that make strangers crowded into theaters as safe as possible.
“We go to the theater for catharsis. This is literally what we are looking for: to be in fellowship with one another, to hear a story told in the dark and to experience catharsis, ”said Miranda. “For a while it wasn’t safe to do this. And he’s sure to come back now with the protocols we have in place. ”
The Broadway cast say they can’t wait to get back on stage after more than a year of waiting, trusting health experts to secure the process. Most of Broadway’s theaters will be reopened by Thanksgiving.
“It’s kind of like when you’re on a plane and there’s turbulence,” said Sharon Wheatley, a seasoned “Come From Away” actress, which resumes her Broadway tour on September 21. “I have to trust the pilot, I have to trust the air traffic controllers. I feel nervous, but I have to understand that I don’t know as much as these people.
“Hamilton”, which opened six years ago, “Wicked”, which opened 17 years ago and “The Lion King”, which opened 23 years ago, form the foundation modern Broadway, virtually immune to slowdowns, changes in tourism and rivals.
Another sign that Broadway is returning to normal is the reopening of the famous TKTS booth in the heart of Times Square, where visitors can get discounted tickets for Broadway and off Broadway the same day and the next.
“It’s a big step forward,” said Victoria Bailey, executive director of the nonprofit Theater Development Fund, which manages the booth. “To open it up and such a symbol for people that the theater is coming back.”
Bailey says the return to Broadway will be less of a flick of the switch and more of a dimmer, with a slow progression to regular attendance. “We’ll know so much more in two or three weeks, but you can’t swim unless you can start canoeing.”
During the pandemic, Miranda saw her visionary show morph into a critically acclaimed filmed version for Disney +, but said there was no substitute for seeing it live.
“It’s one thing to see something on the screen. And I’m delighted that ‘Hamilton’ is available on screen at a time when we couldn’t go to the theater. But I’m even more delighted that it can now be experienced as it should be, live in front of an audience, the last collaborator every evening.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits