New York City, NY

An Epic Celebration Of Broadway's Return Is Held In Times Square

Jeryl Brunner

After 18 months in darkness, Broadway is back in a very big way. And this month, Playbill in partnership with The Broadway League, the Times Square Alliance and Prudential, gave New York City an epic three day free shindig to celebrate its return.

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Nina WesterveltThe cast of Six performs at Curtain Up: This is Broadway!

The Curtain Up! Festival was held from September 17 through September 19 as twenty-two events took place outdoors in Times Square. The festivities included everything from a Joshua Henry concert serenading on guitar (singing a killer version of “I’ll Cover You” from Rent), to a panel featuring playwrights Keenan Scott III (Thoughts of a Colored Man), Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu (Pass Over), Lynn Nottage (Clyde’s) and Douglas Lyons (Chicken & Biscuits) to freestyling with the Freestyle Love Supreme cast members, Kaila Mullady, Anthony Veneziale, Tarik Davis and James Monroe Iglehart.

On Sunday morning, September 19, the festivities cumulated in a pull-out-all-the stops concert Curtain Up: This is Broadway! hosted by Jelani Alladin who originated the role of Kristoff in Frozen. Broadway’s greatest talents from both new and returning productions performed numbers from their shows. In fact, in the next three months 38 shows will be on Broadway.

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Host Jelani AlladinNina Westervelt

“I didn’t think I could appreciate live theater more than I already did,” said Katrina Lenk who stars with Patti LuPone in Company when the musical returns this November 15. “But after so long without it, its absence has made my heart grow even fonder and even more grateful.”

The return of Broadway has a profound impact on New York City, one that isn’t always evident. “Broadway feeds our souls,” said Lauren Reid, chair of the board for The Broadway League and president of The John Gore Organization. “But it also accounts for 97,000 jobs. Which means 97,000 artists, unions, musicians and creatives are back to work.” And then there is the reach of Broadway beyond the actual stages as hotels, shops and restaurants and their employees also benefit.

The crowd in Duffy Square was treated to performances from many, many Broadway musicals including Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, Aladdin, Caroline, or Change, Chicago, Come From Away, Company, Dear Evan Hansen, Diana the Musical, Girl from the North Country, Hadestown, Jagged Little Pill, The Lion King, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Phantom of the Opera, Six, Tina- The Tina Turner Musical, Waitress and Wicked.

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Brittney Johnson from Wicked performsNina Westervelt

Additionally, there were presentations from the Broadway plays Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Lackawanna Blues, Pass Over, Thoughts of a Colored Man and To Kill A Mockingbird. Special presenters included  Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Katrina Lenk, Keenan Scott II, Hunter Parrish and Mo Rocca. Additional guest speakers included Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, Alex Birsh, chief operating officer of Playbill, Tom Harris, president of Times Square Alliance and Susan Somersille Johnson, chief marketing officer of Prudential.

With so many joyous and moving performances, it was a momentous way to welcome back theater, especially in the heart of Times Square. "Broadway is what makes Times Square and New York special and unique…,” said Tom Harris, president of Times Square Alliance. “It challenges people to think differently It reminds us that we are not alone, that we evolve. And that each experience is unique and should be cherished.” “I didn’t think I could appreciate live theater more than I already did,” said Katrina Lenk who stars with Patti Lupone in Company when the musical returns on November 15. “But after so long without it, its absence has made my heart grow even fonder and even more grateful.”

The return of Broadway has a profound impact on New York City, one that isn’t always evident. “Broadway feeds our souls,” said Lauren Reid, chair of the board for The Broadway League; and president of The John Gore Organization. “But it also accounts for 97,000 jobs. Which means 97,000 artists, unions, musicians and creatives are back to work.” And then there is the reach of Broadway beyond the actual stages as hotels, shops and restaurants and their employees also benefit.

The crowd in Duffy Square was treated to performances from many, many Broadway musicals including Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, Aladdin, Caroline, or Change, Chicago, Come From Away, Company, Dear Evan Hansen, Diana the Musical, Girl from the North Country, Hadestown, Jagged Little Pill, The Lion King, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Phantom of the Opera, Six, Tina- The Tina Turner Musical, Waitress and Wicked.

Additionally, there were presentations from the Broadway plays Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Lackawanna Blues, Pass Over, Thoughts of a Colored Man and To Kill A Mockingbird. Special presenters included  Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Katrina Lenk, Keenan Scott II, Hunter Parrish and Mo Rocca. Additional guest speakers included Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, Alex Birsh, chief operating officer of Playbill and Susan Somersille Johnson, chief marketing officer of Prudential.

With so many joyous and moving performances, it was a momentous way to welcome back theater, especially in the heart of Times Square. "Broadway is what makes Times Square and New York special and unique…,” said Tom Harris, president of Times Square Alliance. “It challenges people to think differently. It reminds us that we are not alone, that we evolve. And that each experience is unique and should be cherished.”

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The cast of Caroline, or ChangeNina Westervelt

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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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