Last week I wrote about our return to listening to the live, in-person, outdoors NC Symphony concerts known as Summerfest, which is perhaps my favorite summer tradition. Yesterday I wrote about my return to movie theaters in order to see In the Heights (which I haven’t done yet, but I’ve got specific plans to do so next Wednesday). And while it hasn’t happened yet, the following video made me cry as I watched icons of Broadway celebrate the return to THEATER theater, in this bit on the Jimmy Fallon show known as “Broadway’s Back.”
Of course, it’s not just about Broadway. Locally, the North Carolina Theater is performing its first show, Songs for a New World, starting July 27, and the Durham Performing Arts Center is open starting August 2, although I’m not sure when its first Broadway show will be. So Broadway being back is symbolic of all our local, state, and regional theaters returning to business, which is great, great news for us live theater people. As thankful as I am for all the technology that allowed the arts to sustain us through these troubling times, there is nothing like the live experience of theater, concerts, and especially BROADWAY MUSICALS!
Mostly, I just love the energy and the excitement that is obvious in everyone: the major performers, the dancers and chorus, and the audience. It captures how it uplifts us all as we find it safe to return to things that we probably have been denying how much we miss because that’s the only way we could get through all these months of isolation with a minimum of pain.
I imagine everyone knows Jimmy Fallon and Lin-Manuel Miranda, but for those of you who aren’t Broadway nerds like me, here are the other major performers in the bit as they appeared in order:
- Jimmy Smits (more of a film/TV star, although he has performed in a couple of Broadway dramas; he is in the movie version of In the Heights)
- Olga Merediz (she originated the role of Abuela in In the Heights on Broadway and returned to the role in the movie)
- Phylicia Rashad (besides playing Claire Huxable, she was the first Black Actress to win a Tony Award for her role in A Raisin the Sun––which I didn’t see, but I enjoyed seeing her as the Witch in Into the Woods)
- Kristin Chenoweth (most famous for her role as Glinda in the original production of Wicked, although she won her Tony for You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown)
- Christopher Jackson (he originated the role of Benny in In the Heights and of George Washington in Hamilton)
- Laura Benanti (she won a Tony for her role in Gypsy and has been in many other Broadway musicals, although probably has most recently been seen playing Melania Trump in skits on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)
The musicals that had shout-outs were:
- Phantom of the Opera
- Evan Hanson
- West Side Story
- The Lion King
- Come from Away
- The Book of Mormons
- Can Can
- Chorus Line
Then Hamilton again, since the closing song was based on the song from that musical sung by King George, “You’ll Be Back.”
It’s just a wonderful expression of how wonderful it is to regain these aspects of life that we had to forgo to protect ourselves and others. Since absence makes the heart grow sweeter, life is getting sweeter and sweeter as we return more and more to the life activities we love but had to put aside for the past year and half.