What Was It Like to Perform on the Macy’s Parade? Over 20 Actors Remember | Playbill

News What Was It Like to Perform on the Macy’s Parade? Over 20 Actors Remember We’re looking back at Thanksgivings of years past—with exclusive memories from Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes, Annaleigh Ashford, Ryan Steele, and more.


Brynn O'Malley (Honeymoon in Vegas, Annie) 
I performed with the cast of the 2012 revival of Annie on the parade telecast. As an adult, it's very easy to be overwhelmed by the lack of sleep (you have to get up in the middle of the night!) and heat (it's FREEZING!), but I remember getting on the bus to Macy's and sitting next to little (at the time) Taylor Richardson and seeing how excited she was…and then looking around and seeing all the other orphans COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT, and suddenly their energy and enthusiasm was better than any space heater or cup of coffee a girl could ask for. I squealed with them all the way to 34th Street.

Watch the Annie performance below:

Bring It On: The Musical

Ariana DeBose (Bronx TaleHamilton, Bring It On: The Musical, Motown: The Musical)
Despite the fact that it's typically freezing, performing in the Macy's Parade is just as magical (if not more so) than watching it from the comfort of your own home! I'll never forget catching a glimpse of the "Believe" sign. #waterworks

Jason Gotay (Peter Pan Live!Bring It On: The Musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Performing on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Bring It On was one of the most exciting moments of my life. What really struck me that day was the feeling of camaraderie among the casts that were performing. From shouting "Good luck!" to Laura Osnes as she ran past us to get ready for her Cinderella performance, to taking silly photos with the orphans from the cast of Annie, to cheering for each cast from our trailers as we prepared to go on… There were so many moments that reminded me of how special this community is.

Janet Krupin (If/ThenBring It On: The Musical, Hands on a Hardbody)
The Macy's Parade performance was the best, best, best day of the entire Bring It On experience for me. We were near the end of our run, and I was feeling pretty exhausted. But that day was so special, it all melted away, and it was just joy.

Taylor Louderman (Peter Pan Live!Bring It On: The Musical)
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an exciting day that brings the Broadway community together! It is such a supportive bunch. I remember cheering on other Broadway shows and watching friends perform ahead of us while we waited to go on next, or taking Instagrams with each other before the parade began in our "trailer park." It's a happy day, and despite not being with immediate family, I truly felt surrounded by family and warmth.

Elle McLemore (Heathers: The MusicalBring It On: The Musical)
Being a part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was bucket-list, magical/one of the best experiences of my life! We performed the number "I Got You," and being the villain of Bring it On, my character Eva is the only cast member not in that number, but the creative team made an exception for me to be in it that day, so I could perform with the rest of my family! I remember hugging Annie, crying watching [as] my cast member Shonica beamed over Cinderella perform (she had just been cast in that show), taking a photo with Matt Lauer and looking back at that giant "Believe" sign, realizing in that moment that is truly what life's all about.

Adrienne Warren (Shuffle Along, Bring It On: The Musical)
The year I performed for the Macy's Parade with Bring It On, it was one of my most memorable holiday experiences yet. My parents were in the audience, which made it all the more magical! I also recorded a song for the parade. It was quite wild to finish performing with my cast and then hear my voice singing during another performance. I jumped up and down with excitement a lot that day!

Watch the Bring It On performance below:

Rodger's + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Santino Fontana  (Act One, Rodger's + Hammerstein's Cinderella)
I remember waking up at the crack of dawn and just thinking, "Don't drop Laura. Don't drop Laura. DON'T DROP LAURA."

Laura Osnes (The Bandstand, Cinderella, Bonnie & Clyde) 
Our call time to get ready for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was 5 AM. So, it was a very early morning. Because Cinderella wasn't open yet (we hadn't even started Broadway rehearsals!), we all got ready in a rehearsal space on 45th Street. The ladies' ball gowns and men's tuxedos were pulled from a previous William Ivey Long production because no one had even had costume fittings yet. Only Victoria Clark and I got to debut our real Broadway costumes for the first time, which was exciting. And, I even got to do a quick change from rags to ball gown within our number! I remember it being cold, but at least it was sunny. All went well, and I went back to sleep when I got home!

Watch the Cinderella performance below:

In the Heights

Robin De Jesús (Wicked, La Cage Aux Folles, In The Heights)
You know you suffer from privilege when your biggest issue on Thanksgiving Day is that you can't decide what channel to watch the parade on. The year that I performed with In the Heights it was a no-brainer. Every other year, the struggle has been real!

Watch the In the Heights performance below:

Kinky Boots

Annaleigh Ashford (Sylvia, You Can't Take It With You, Kinky Boots)
The cast of Kinky Boots was invited to perform for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. During the parade rehearsal at 6:30 AM, and in 35-degree cold, I did a spin into Stark Sands, and snot flew gloriously from my nose like a sprinkler in the summer. Thank God it happened in the rehearsal and not in the live filming. We went back to the theatre, and as we took off our costumes, we were shocked to find people tweeting angry words about our message of love. It's a reminder that people still need to hear the words, "Just be!" I am so grateful that I was a part of sharing our show with the world.

Watch the Kinky Boots performance below:

Legally Blonde

Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde, Wicked, Hairspray)
I've performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade twice. The first time was during Hairspray. It was totally exhilarating… Live TV, freezing fingers, sweaty palms, last night's make up and dancing in a five-pound wig to a track we all couldn't hear at rehearsal. The second time was for Legally Blonde. It was during the stagehand strike, so we couldn't get into the theatre for our costumes or props. We did our number in cheerleading outfits we bought online. Thank God it was 65 degrees that Thanksgiving… And, I brought my full panty.

Both times, 35th Street was lined with trailers and RVs designated for the Broadway folk to get ready starting at 6 AM. Some of us were just rolling in from festivities the night before. It felt like a Starbucks block party! "Hey girl! HEYYY! You got your pumpkin spice latte?!"

Gaelen Gilliland (Honeymoon in VegasLegally Blonde)
The last time I did the parade was in 2007 with Legally Blonde, and Broadway was on strike! We weren't able to perform in costume, so we wore shirts with our show's logo instead. It had been a balmy day that year, and as we were standing outside of our trailers awaiting our time to perform, I vividly remember seeing all the other "characters" from Broadway shows mingling. Such a sight! What a riot to see Shrek talking to Elle Woods. But the best part? Right after we performed, since we were wearing our own clothes and not costumes, we could jump in the subway and go home. Fifteen minutes later I was on my couch, in my PJs, snuggling with my dog, watching the rest of the parade. 

Watch the Legally Blonde performance below:

The Little Mermaid

Sierra Boggess (School of Rock, The Phantom of the Opera, Disney's The Little Mermaid)

I just loved the whole experience of being with my Mermaid family so ungodly early in the morning, and we were freezing because we were wearing very little — ya know, shells and fins! But the costume department gave me a scarf and gloves to be "Christmas-y Ariel," so I wouldn't freeze out there! On top of that, it was just an amazing experience to feel how excited everyone was about Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas season!

Watch The Little Mermaid performance below:

Matilda The Musical

Lesli Margherita (Dames at Sea, Matilda The Musical)
It was freezing. Like…FREEZING. A bunch of cast members had those little hand warmer thingys somewhere on their costumes. Mine really has no room. So I wedged one umm…down my cleavage. Those things get really hot. Fast. All I remember during the taping was not how excited I was to finally be performing on the parade, but that my boobs were burning. Happy Thanksgiving.

Watch the Matilda performance below:


Montego Glover (Les Misérables, Memphis)
Cold! Cold! Cold! I vividly remember being in my signature red, sleeveless Felicia Farrell dress (with my long leather gloves added for warmth) while the cast of Memphis rehearsed in the wee hours of the morning. And, in the middle of all the teeth-chattering and nose-running, I suddenly noticed all the bright colors at Macy's Herald Square, our dancers twirling for the Gods, my glorious principal company around me and the bundled-up fans and tourists cheering us on. And I thought, "This is a memory for all time." It certainly is.

Watch the Memphis performance below:

Newsies The Musical

Ryan Steele (Matilda The Musical, Peter Pan Live!, Newsies The Musical
My favorite Thanksgiving parade memory is performing with Newsies. It had just been announced that the show was moving to Broadway, so everyone was on such a high. That cast was always full of love and good energy, but we were especially grateful that day. It was not only my favorite parade memory, but one of my favorite memories throughout my run at Newsies!

Brendon Stimson (Honeymoon in VegasNewies The Musical)
I was lucky enough to have performed a few years ago live on the parade with Newsies and had the time of my life! I remember walking down for what felt like a 4 AM call and seeing that there were people already set up to watch the parade pass by. Dedication to get that perfect spot and realizing how many people get so excited to watch the biggest parade of the year! Performing was such a rush, too. There's something iconic about performing on that green concrete with the Macy's logo.

Watch the Newsies performance below:

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Kelli O'Hara (The King and I, The Bridges of Madison County, Nice Work If You Can Get It)
My favorite parade memory is nervously standing in the freezing cold with Matthew Broderick, getting ready to dance over furniture in front of millions of people (neither of us being dancers), and we hear Matt Lauer say, "Here are Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara dancing to 'ESSSSS WONDERFUL'!" Not "S'Wonderful," but "Ess Wonderful." It made us laugh so much that the rest was cake.

Watch the Nice Work performance below:

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Nick Adams (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, La Cage aux Folles)
It's hard to capture the excitement of performing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It's an iconic event that really captures the heart of what it's like to be a part of the Broadway community. Performing with Priscilla Queen of the Desert was a dream come true. I remember being very proud to represent our show and bring its message to the parade.

Watch the Priscilla performance below:


Carly Hughes (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Chicago, Ragtime)
My first and only time performing in the parade was with the Ragtime revival in 2009. We pre-recorded the opening number of the show for the CBS broadcast, down on South Ferry. It was a gorgeous sunny morning, with the Statue of Liberty as our backdrop, and the luscious music of Ahrens and Flaherty blaring from the speakers. A truly magical experience.

Watch the Ragtime performance below:

Sister Act

Marla Mindelle (Rodger's + Hammerstein's CinderellaSister Act)
I think it's every musical theatre tween's dream to perform in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. My favorite part was getting to share it with the cast that I loved so much. We were so loopy from having no sleep that we kept making each other laugh in our trailers, chilled to the bone in giant jackets and nun habits. The actual performance was a blur itself from the nerves, etc. — but I remember being very thankful for the wonderful people in Sister Act that got me through such an emotionally charged day!

Watch the Sister Act performance below:

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

Kerry O'Malley (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Irving Berlin's White Christmas)
Singing Irving Berlin's songs, dancing Randy Skinner's classy choreography, sharing Walter Bobbie's brilliant and ebullient finale, in the most stunning Carrie Robbins-designed gown with a company that you love at Macy's on Thanksgiving Day in front of a national TV audience — what could be more fun? It was freezing cold, and we were up since the crack of dawn, but it was an absolutely magical and delightful morning, and it is one of those occasions when you feel like you are really a part of the Broadway community. You wait in "the wings" with the other casts, you help keep each other warm, you know your loved ones all over the country and the world are watching, and you reflect with gratitude on the opportunity to be a part of it. And, our red and white finale costumes couldn't have looked better in front of the red Macy's awnings. It was a magical morning, full of joy and possibility. I will never forget it.

Watch the White Christmas performance below:


Patti Murin (Lysistrata Jones, Xanadu)
I remember performing on the Thanksgiving Day Parade with Xanadu in 2007! This was equal parts thrilling and absolutely terrifying, as we all had to roller skate on the bumpy pavement on Sixth Avenue, praying to every god in the world that we wouldn't fall on live television. It was unseasonably warm and sunny that year, in the mid-50s, so we were incredibly spoiled in terms of the weather. Fear aside, it was such a great day for our cast — one of the many special bonding experiences we had during the run of that show that made us a family forever.

Watch the Xanadu performance below:

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