After over a year of Zoom-broadcasted sing-alongs and even a Ratatouille TikTok musical, the iconic theaters of Broadway have finally reopened. On September 14th, audiences were once again able to witness the majesty of Wicked, the heartbreak of Dear Evan Hansen, the genius of Hamilton, and so much more.
Broadway’s reopening signals a hopeful and needed shift in the pandemic. Being able to gather in large groups and experience art as a community is truly a luxury, one that we did not fully recognize until we were without it. The excitement surrounding Broadway’s return is palpable: on opening night, there were standing ovations before the shows even began.
Although Broadway fanatics like myself are thrilled to return to the theaters, it is really the actors and crew who must be feeling the full weight of this revival. The arts industry was tremendously impacted by the pandemic, leaving these creatives with no income and limited outlets for their passion. On Broadway.com, you can watch these performers rehearse together for the first time since Broadway shut-down. I highly recommend viewing Tshidi Manye sing “The Circle of Life” with the cast of The Lion King. She cried and I certainly did too — total emotional wreck over here.
Although returning to the age-old tradition of Broadway shows is incredibly uplifting, there is no doubt that we must acknowledge some of the serious changes we have endured throughout the past year-and-a-half. The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement was a painful reminder of how predominately white and elitist the Broadway space is. From directors, to crew, to actors, to scripts, there must be an increase in representation and inclusivity for this business to make progress. This return also reminds us of those we lost to COVID-19. Nick Cordero of Waitress, actor Alvin Ing, and esteemed Broadway alum Mark Blum all tragically passed from the virus, leaving an unfillable hole in the Broadway community. Losses like these, combined with the excitement of returning to in-person theater, will hopefully inspire many to increase their efforts in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
As the Delta variant increasingly threatens our daily lives, it is even more important to cherish in-person experiences like Broadway while we still can. I just can’t wait to get dolled up for the theater, ride the train over to the energetic theater district, and watch the lights dim down from my mezzanine seat.