While Broadway has welcomed audiences since June, September 14 was a milestone day for some major hits. No less than four shows reopened—Wicked, Hamilton, Chicago, and The Lion King—and Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Lackawanna Blues began previews.
Check out a recap of the big night above—and additional videos, from pre-curtain speeches, curtain calls, and more, below.
It was a swankified night indeed at the Gershwin Theatre as Glinda, Elphaba, and a whole lot of Ozians welcomed back audiences. Check out the rapturous applause the opening—including Glinda's ever-so-apt "It's good to see me, isn't it?"—received. This was all preceded by a special on-stage introduction by the original Glinda herself: Kristin Chenoweth.
The ovation at the end of the performance was just as exuberant. After the initial curtain call, the crowd just kept rejoicifying, and eventually the Oz map rose again to reveal the cast with composer Stephen Schwartz and several other team members who help bring the story of friendship to life.
Before the actual show kicked off, Lin-Manuel Miranda brought back another tradition in front of the Richard Rodgers Theatre: a live #Ham4Ham show. While there wasn't an actual in-person lottery for the first performance, the Tony, Pulitzer, Olivier, and every other award imaginable winner treated spectators to a rousing performance of Kander and Ebb's "New York, New York," featuring cast members from Hamilton, Wicked, and The Lion King. Miranda subsequently took the actual stage of the Richard Rodgers ahead of the show. "I don't ever want to take live theatre for granted again," he said. Hard agree.
Having just finished their first performance for a full audience in over a year and a half, the cast was still full of energy at the curtain call.
The Lion King
"You all have the desire, the enthusiasm, the courage, to lead the way. Because as we know, theatre in New York is the lifeblood and soul of the city," director Julie Taymor told the crowd at the Minskoff Theatre. Moments later, the space transformed into Pride Rock for the show's iconic opening number, "Circle of Life." Watch the celebration of Simba's birth—and Broadway's rebirth—below. The anthem was also streamed live through a partnership with TikTok.
Director Walter Bobbie spoke to eager audiences at the Ambassador Theatre before delving into "murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery, and treachery…all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts." Under a new illuminated sign, each cast member tossed rose petals as they were announced during the curtain call.
Rather than returning to Broadway, the Manahattan Theatre Club production had its very first performance at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre September 14. A pre-show ribbon cutting ceremony featured S. Epatha Merkerson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and more (not to mention confetti cannons!).
Broadway shuttered its doors March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After 18 months, last night’s performances were considered a harbinger that the hard times are easing up. The industry still has a long road to recovery, however, with the Main Stem continuing to see reopenings through spring of 2022. To help control the spread of the virus, all Broadway houses are requiring proof of vaccination.