Broadway’s big convention officially kicked off at 4 PM, when the opening ceremony began at the Javits Center. This year’s 50-minute original musical centered around 23-year-old aspiring artist Carl, whose two moms sent him off to New York City with a fully furnished Astoria apartment—and a year’s worth of rent taken care of!—to pursue his dreams. However, when he got there, he encountered an evil, power-hungry, tweet-happy Mayoress who used her platform to take down Broadway. Through the power of art, Carl was determined to stop her.
1. Guest Stars: Sam Tanabe, Telly Leung’s understudy in Broadway’s Allegiance, played the mini-musical’s main man, with his moms played by original Rent star Fredi Walker-Browne and Carolee Carmello, who is set to star in the Off-Broadway immersive Sweeney Todd. The evil Mayoress was played by Olivier Award winner Lesli Margherita. When Carl sought help from archived Broadway productions at the Lincoln Center Library, he was greeted by Aladdin's Tony-winning Genie James Monroe Iglehart, and Next to Normal Tony winner Alice Ripley was in Carl’s dreams—to help guide him to success.
2. Musical Numbers: Ryan Scott Oliver and David Alpert wrote the opening ceremony with Tessa Netting and Andrew Briedis. It featured lyric changes to classics as well as original numbers written by Oliver. Thoroughly Modern Millie’s “Not For the Life of Me” was changed to “This is the Life for Me,” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” was changed to “Thoroughly Broadway.” Gypsy’s “You Gotta Have a Gimick” was changed to “Get Yourself a Game Plan” for when Carl devised a plan to defeat the Mayoress. The Hairspray finale “You Can’t Stop the Beat” was changed to “You Can’t Stop the Show.” Original numbers included Oliver’s empowering ballad “We Will Sing.”
3. Broadway Puns: Jokes that only hardcore Broadway fans would get were littered throughout the opening. When Carl was leaving for New York, he asked his moms to pack his Hamilton shot glass, and Carmello replied, “We’re not throwing it away!” When Carl questioned why the Mayoress was even enlisted in the first place, he asked, “Hasa diga eebowai did anyone elect her?!” And the big protest was held at the Hamilton lottery. Even though Broadway was temporarily shut down by the Mayoress, theatre fans still gather at the lottery because “no one goes to the Hamilton lottery expecting to see the show.” It’s just for the experience!
4. Equality: Aside from Carl’s two moms, the opening ceremony also featured a gay couple who played Christian Borle and Audra McDonald’s drivers. When they announced that they were in a relationship, they kissed, and the audience applauded.
5. Confetti: As happened last year, the opening ceremony ended in streams of confetti. The Hairspray-themed finale featured performances from the entire cast—including Margherita’s Mayoress. The opening number proved that creating art could change people’s minds, and in the words of the late Carrie Fisher (whom they quoted onstage), theatre artists must “take your broken heart, and make it into art.”