Over the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to attend three performances on Broadway: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Hadestown.” I have performed in a multitude of shows, my most recent one being “A Doll’s House,” and have designed the lighting for shows including “Kiss Me, Kate.” While I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Broadway shows as a fan of theatre, they also spoke to me as a student of literature and philosophy. However, my experience on Broadway also gave me a perspective on our culture as a nation. The values found in these performances like empathy, kindness, and resilience, mixed with the experience of sharing in these stories with strangers from all over the world moved me towards a newfound appreciation and hope for the world we live in.
That, in a sense, is a simplistic overview of the power of live theatre like Broadway. Even though theatre is not everyone’s cup of tea, people know about Broadway; people understand that Broadway is a cultural monument in the United States, if only as a tourist hotspot. But not even a year after my time in New York City, tragedy struck the world in the form of a pandemic. On March 12 2020, all Broadway performances were shut down due to the growing dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic. After 18 months of Broadway, as well as most live performances around the nation being closed, I have often found myself reflecting on the values of hope and resilience I witnessed in the performance of “Hadestown” I experienced. While the show acknowledges itself as a tragedy, it emphasizes the importance of retelling itself with an ever-present hope that “spring will come again.” Now, as of September 2021, Broadway performances are starting up once more.
While only a few shows opened early September, most performances are expected to be performing again by the end of the year. One of which includes “Pass Over,” which Playbill describes as: “Inspired by both “Waiting for Godot” and the “Exodus” saga, “Pass Over” follows Moses and Kitch, two young black men who dream of an existence beyond their street corner. Between stagings, [the playwright] Nwandu modified the play to center on the joy rather than trauma.” Another play, “Waitress,” follows Jenna, a waitress that stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage. Her customers, co-workers, and the town’s handsome new doctor all offer her conflicting recipes for happiness but Jenna must ultimately decide for herself.” The 74th Tony Awards ceremony that was postponed from 2020 will be taking place on Sunday, September 26th, and is a reminder that Broadway is back.