New York City, NY

The Broadway Community Reflects On The Shutdown In A New Book, 'When The Lights Are Bright Again'

Jeryl Brunner

The Broadway and theater community has written a book…together!
When The Lights Are Bright AgainPhotos by Matthew Murphy

When The Lights Are Bright Again recounts the stories, struggles, and successes of the Broadway industry that was first to be shut down and one of the last to return.

The Covid-19 pandemic revealed what a world without live performance looks and feels like. When The Lights Are Bright Again captures a small fraction of the powerful and transcendent internal heartbeat that never went away within the New York theater community.

Andrew Norlen, an artist who was most recently in the closing tour company of Broadway's Kinky Boots, weaves more than 200 letters from Broadway theater veterans about the industry’s 17 month shutdown. Beloved Broadway photo photographer, Matthew Murphy, shot the portraits.

The book includes some of Broadway’s greatest talents including Jerry Mitchell, Keala Settle, Ali Stroker, Sergio Trujillo, Eden Espinosa, Rob McClure, Robyn Hurder, Clint Ramos, Arian Moayed, Amber Iman, Andrew Barth Feldman. They express their personal insights from the past year.

Also included are passages from passionate theater goers, teenage dreamers aching for their day in the spotlight, long-time ushers, designers, creatives and countless other arts workers. The book is dedicated in loving memory to Nick Cordero.

Norlen is a New York City-based artist. With a BFA from The Boston Conservatory of Music, his podcast, Everyday Heroes, is a space where he elevates female identifying voices. In addition to being the creator of When the Lights Are Bright Again he also wrote the memoir, Defining Brave.

When The Lights Are Bright Again began as an artist’s desperate desire to express himself inside a worldwide pandemic. But in one year’s time it grew into a theater industry and country-wide outlet for healing, grief, justice, and hope in the theater community.

The book's photographer, Matthew Murphy, is a New York City-based lensman specializing in theater, dance, and portrait photography. His work is featured in the books Hamilton: The Revolution, Come From Away: Welcome to the Rock, Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window, and Jagged Little Pill: You Live, You Learn. He travels worldwide photographing productions.

Published on November 1 by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, the book features letters of loss, hope, and resilience. Pre-orders are accepted at and wherever books are sold. A portion of the proceeds from every copy purchased goes to The Actors Fund, the national human services organization for everyone in performing arts and entertainment. The book will continue to help support arts workers to thrive and maintain financial stability for decades.

The creation of When The Lights Are Bright Again has allowed the theater community to grieve and express themselves in a new way. The book is a love letter to the arts community and theatergoers. But above all else, it is a meditation on the human experience. There is something for every broken, tired, angry and lost soul inside this book: hope.
Andrew NorlenMatthew Murphy
Photographer Matthew MurphyMatthew Murphy

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New York based journalist who has written for Forbes, Parade, InStyle, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal. Author of the book "My City, My New York, Famous New Yorkers Share Their Favorite Places" and podcaster, ("When Lightning Strikes"). I cover the arts, theater, entertainment, food, travel and people who are motivated by their joy and passion.

New York City, NY

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