After 18 months of darkness – the longest blackout in Broadway history – live theater has returned to New York.
Mega hits like including “The Lion King,” “Hamilton,” and “Wicked” took to the stage Tuesday night after a handful of musicals kicked off the theater season within the last few weeks. Bruce Springsteen’s one-man show resumed in June.
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda – equipped with a bullhorn – led a group of Broadway performers in a rendition of “New York, New York” outside the Richard Rodgers Theater to celebrate. He told jubilant onlookers, “Get a mask and get vaccinated, and come see live theater.” (Watch Above)
Introducing the first “Hamilton” show since March 2020, Miranda told the audience, “I don’t ever want to take live theater for granted ever again.” He thanked the city’s frontline workers and The Actors Fund, which helped support out of work Broadway performers during the pandemic.
Lin-Manuel Miranda welcomed audiences back to Broadway at the reopening of "Hamilton" Tuesday night: "I don't ever want to take live theater for granted ever again." pic.twitter.com/LwO1OU8eJS
— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) September 15, 2021
All audience members have to show proof of vaccination to enter a Broadway theater. Masks are also required.
But neither of those precautions seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of Tuesday’s crowds. The Associated Press reports, “At “The Lion King,” the opening song “The Circle of Life” was virtually drowned out by cheers and clapping, while every star in “Hamilton” had to pause to let the entrance applause die down enough to be heard again.”
At “Wicked,” fan-favorite Kristin Chenoweth reprised her role as Glinda in a surprise appearance. Fans went wild for her performances, particularly when her characters asks “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?” during the show’s opening number.
Wait for it…the crowd was already erupting in applause at the sound of “ladies and gentlemen” but then when Kristin Chenoweth was announced —-just listen! Wow 🤩🤩chills!!! And lots of tears from audience @NY1 pic.twitter.com/qLJhlx4Y0Q
— Shannan Ferry (@ShannanFerry) September 14, 2021
The New York Times contextualizes Broadway’s return:
At stake is the health of an industry that, before the pandemic, had been enjoying a sustained boom. During the last full Broadway season before the outbreak, from 2018 to 2019, 14.8 million people attended a show — that’s more people than the combined attendance for the Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Islanders, Knicks, Liberty, Giants, Jets, Devils and Nets, according to the Broadway League. And that attendance translated to real money — the industry grossed $1.83 billion that season.
This season is sure to be different. The League is concerned enough about revenue that it has decided not to disclose box office grosses this season.