The lights go down. Playbill is hand. The annoucement comes over the loudspeaker reminding the audience to turn off their cell phones…and to keep their masks on.
There are three shows open on Broadway right now: Antoinette Chinoye Nwandu’s Pass Over, Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown, and Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s Waitress. All three are both written and directed by women, which is incredibly special. I have been lucky enough to see all three in the past few weeks.
First of all, I will say that I could not be more impressed with the COVID-19 safety measures theaters have put in place. In all three cases, the line to check vaccinations and IDs moved quickly and efficiently. None of the theaters had a long line to get in. In fact, the lines were shorter than pre-pandemic times. I also applaud the ushers tasked with reminding audience members to keep masks on at all times.
I am so glad that my husband won the Pass Over lottery, and that I got to see this play. It is provokative, timely, and funny. The three actors: Jon Michael Hall, Namir Smallwood, and Gabriel Ebert are all giving phenomenal performances. If you have the chance to see it before October 10, I highly recommend it.
Being in the audience for the re-opening performance of Hadestown was a truly magical experience. The cast was immediately greeted with a standing ovation and raucus applause when they entered. André De Shields relished the moment and Amber Gray was in tears. Never have I been a part of so many mid-show standing ovations: for “Road to Hell,” “Wait for Me,” “Our Lady of the Underground.” The energy was truly electric. Writer Anaïs Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin coming out at curtain call to speak and sing “We Raise Our Cups” with the cast was just the cherry on top.
I wish that I could have been in the audience for Waitress’ reopening performance too, but I was on “the road to hell.” Even the second performance had a very special energy. I was emotional as soon as I walked into the Barrymore Theater and smelled that heavenly pie smell that is Waitress’ signature. The audience went wild as soon as the opening notes started, and the curtain rose to reveal Sara Bareilles holding a pie. The entrance of each character was greeted with huge applause. Of course, “She Used to be Mine” got a standing ovation, which I haven’t seen since the show’s opening night in April 2016.
I am immensely looking forward to being at Wicked’s re-opening night on September 14 and Six’s re-opening performance on September 17. Broadway is back, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Or emotional.