New York, New York is celebrating 2023's first Manhattanhenge, set to occur May 29 and 30, by releasing a full performance video of "Light," a number from the Kander and Ebb musical that recreates the phenomenon on stage. Manhattanhenge, for those who don't know, is when the sun sets perfectly between buildings on east-west streets, and it happens twice a year.
Production star Anna Uzele told Playbill a moving story earlier this year about a special experience composer and 2023 Lifetime Achievement Tony honoree John Kander gave her while rehearsing "Light" prior to the musical's opening night. “‘You guys, you’re singing it to Anna. Everything you’re doing is beautiful, but it has to be for her,’” Uzele remembered the 96-year-old, three-time Tony winner saying. “So he grabs me, and he stands me in front of the room, and he says, ‘Everyone look at her, and everyone sing the song to her.’ If you’ve ever had 27 people singing at you and staring at you at the same time, it’s overwhelming."
Uzele said it was extra moving because her character, Francine, spends the majority of the show alone—trying to find success as a singer. "She doesn’t have any friends. She doesn’t have any family. She’s going it by herself and just trying to figure it out by herself. It’s the one moment in the show where I get to step back and be held by the company and be told that they’re there for me, and [Kander] made sure I got that.”
READ: What Anna Uzele and Colton Ryan Learned From Working with John Kander
The musical continues its run at the St. James Theatre. Earning nine nominations for the 2023 Tony Awards, including the coveted Best Musical, New York, New York opened at the St. James Theatre April 26 after beginning previews March 24. The all-star creative team is led by five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman, who directs and choreographs the production with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, a book by David Thompson and co-written by Sharon Washington, and additional lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. A cast recording is due to drop June 9.
Inspired by the 1977 film written by Earl M. Rauch, New York, New York is set in Manhattan in the days after World War II is over. A collection of artists has dreams as big and diverse as the city itself, among them Francine Evans, a young singer just off the bus from Philly, destined for greatness. At least, until she encounters New York native Jimmy Doyle, a brilliant but disillusioned musician.
READ: Name That Tune! A Comprehensive Guide to the Songs of New York, New York
Starring are 2023 Tony nominee Colton Ryan and Anna Uzele, along with Clyde Alves, John Clay III, Janet Dacal, Ben Davis, Oliver Prose, Angel Sigala, and Emily Skinner, as well as ensemble members Wendi Bergamini, Allison Blackwell, Giovanni Bonaventura, Jim Borstelmann, Lauren Carr, Mike Cefalo, Bryan J. Cortés, Kristine Covillo, Gabriella Enriquez, Haley Fish, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Richard Gatta, Stephen Hanna, Naomi Kakuk, Akina Kitazawa, Ian Liberto, Kevin Ligon, Leo Moctezuma, Aaron Nicholas Patterson, Alex Prakken, Dayna Marie Quincy, Julian Ramos, Drew Redington, Benjamin Rivera, Vanessa Sears, Davis Wayne, Jeff Williams, and Darius Wright.
Sam Davis leads the music team as music supervisor and arrangements, with orchestrations by Daryl Waters and Davis, vocal arrangements by David Loud, music direction by Alvin Hough, Jr., and music coordination by Kristy Norter.
The production features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Donna Zakowska, lighting design by Ken Billington, sound design by Kai Harada, projection design by Christopher Ash and Boritt, hair and wig design by Sabana Majeed, and makeup design by Michael Clifton. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Jason Thinger, with Johnny Milani serving as production stage manager. Spanish translations and additional text are by Michael León.