Parkside Court Auditorium
Music & Lyrics by ANDRE CATRINI
Book by DOUGLAS LYONS
- AARON ALBANO
- JODI BLUESTEIN
- MICHAEL BURRELL
- KEVIN CURTIS
- LAURA GIRARD
- LAURA HODOS
- JACOB HOFFMAN
- JORIE JANEWAY
- TRACI ELAINE LEE
- DAVID MERTEN
- MIKE SCHWITTER
- CHRISTINE CORNISH SMITH
- SHARROD WILLIAMS
- CARLYN CONNOLLY
- JELANI ALLADIN
- VISHAL VAIDYA
- Scenic Design
- Ann Beyersdorfer
- Costume Design
- Fabian Fidel Aguilar
- Lighting Design
- Jamie Roderick
- Sound Design
- Kevin Heard
- Andrew Nielson
- Kate Lumpkin Casting
- General Management
- EBP Productions
- Production Stage Manager
- Laura Malseed
- Music Supervisor
- Andrew Nielson
Melissa Rain Anderson
(in alphabetical order)
William, u/s M. Maboul
Marie-Laure, u/s Aurélie
Tracie Elaine Lee
Christine Cornish Smith
Coquin/Perruche, u/s Chance
1944, Occupied France
- "Rebellion, Revolution, Paradox" – Full Company
- "The Circle’s End" – Aurélie
- "Almost Real" – Chance
- "Curiosity" – Aurélie
- "Long Story Short" – William, Perruche, Hérissonne & Aurélie
- "Fantasia" – Chance & Full Company
- "The Other Side" – Chenille
- "Beyond the Sky" – Aurélie & Colombe
- "Visions" – Delphine, Stéphane, & Aurélie
- 'Where You Want to Go" – Marie-Laure
- "A Table for Three" – M. Maboul, Mars, & Dorian
- "Roses In Bloom" – Full Company
- "What A Pity" – Chance
- "Laughter Through Tears" – Mme. Tortue
- "Will You, Won’t You?" – Gryphon, Mme. Tortue, & Aurélie
- "Nostalgic Echo" – Marie-Laure
- "The Accusation" – Chance, Geneviève, Napoléon & Coquin
- "A Table for Three (Reprise)" – M. Maboul, Mars & Dorian
- "Nothing Whatever" – Full Company
- "Expression More Profound" – Aurélie & Full Company
- "To See You Again" – Aurélie & Delphine
Board of Trustees
Director of Marketing
Meet the Cast
Most recently starred as Hercules in Public Work’s Musical Adaptation of Disney’s Hercules. He made his Broadway Debut in Frozen the Musical as Kristoff, which earned him a Drama Desk nomination for Best Leading Actor and a Drama League nomination for Distinguished Performance. Graduate of the inaugural class of Tisch School of the Arts' New Studio on Broadway and A Better Chance alumnus. His television credits include “The Walking Dead: The World Beyond” (AMC), “FBI” (CBS), “Law and Order: SVU” (NBC). His film credits include Respect (MGM), Tick Tick Boom (Netflix) and the independent film One Hit Wonder.
Carlyn Connolly is thrilled to be making her Parkside Court debut. Regional credits include Cabaret (Fräulein Kost), Honky Tonk Laundry (Lana Mae Hopkins), An American In Paris (Milo Davenport), White Christmas(Betty Haynes), Hello, Dolly! (Irene Malloy), The Music Man (Ethel Toffelmeier, u/s Marian Paroo), and Mary Poppins (Katie Nanna, u/s Mrs. Banks). Carlyn has performed as a soloist with orchestras in the US, Canada, and across Asia, and is also a founding member of Always Andrews: A Tribute to the Andrews Sisters. Endless gratitude to Melissa for this incredible and deeply meaningful opportunity, and to Mom, Dad, Devin, and Melissa for their immeasurable love and support.
Vishal Vaidya is a performer and voice teacher based in NYC. He made his Broadway debut as Larry the cameraman in Groundhog Day. Other credits include DAVE (Arena Stage), Road Show and 1776 (City Center), and the new musicals Mandela, Half the Sky, MAYA, and Letters to the President. Vishal has a robust private voice studio and has taught for Point Parkc University, Indiana University, CAP21, and more. As a singer, he’s sung the National Anthem for President Barack Obama, performed for Justice Ginsburg, and appears on the albums Losing My Mind: A Sondheim Disco Fever Dream, Einstein’s Dreams (Off-Broadway Cast Recording), and Charlie Rosen’s Come Hang.
Meet the Cast
A large part of In The Heights is our intergenerational stories. The cast is dedicating this production to those who made them who they are, and they would like to say, "Thank you for everything I know."
Aaron Albano hails originally from the West Coast where he began performing professionally at the age of 15 in San Jose, CA. After attending the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), majoring in musical theatre, he made his Broadway debut in the original company of Bombay Dreams. Since then, Aaron has performed in such Broadway shows as Wicked, A Chorus Line, Mary Poppins, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (where he closed the production as Chip Tolentino), The King and I, Allegiance, Cats, and most notably, as Finch in the original Broadway company of Newsies. Aaron can currently be seen as Samuel Seabury (and on rare occasion King George III) on the national tour of Hamilton.
Thrilled to be part of this production. Favorite NY/Regional credits: Parade (u/s Lucille,The REV Theatre Co.), South Pacific (The REV Theatre Co), LaChiusa’s The Wild Party (Mae, B-side Productions) Urinetown (Little Becky, The Secret Theatre), Oliver! (Nancy, Jenny Wiley Theatre), CATS, (Grizabella, Pentangle Arts), Joseph…Dreamcoat (Narrator, Sugarloaf PAC), From Here To Eternity (Ogunquit Playhouse) Annie (Lily, CFRT) Matilda (Mrs. Wormwood, TWN). Jodi has also toured as a featured vocalist in Japan with Disney On Classic, led by the Tokyo Philarmonic, and has sung with orchestras in Singapore, Taipei, and El Salvador. Endless gratitude to those who have taught and supported her along the way.
Tours: An American In Paris (Henri/International Tour). Regional: Disney’s Beauty & the Beast (Beast/Theatre Under the Stars), Hair (Claude/Geva Theatre), Meet Me In St. Louis (Warren/The Muny), Amazing Grace (John Newton/Washington, D.C.). Proud Texas State BFA Musical Theater grad (Eat ‘Em Up, Cats!). Endless love and gratitude to my family, my teachers, CGF, and the incredible cast and creative team.
Carlyn Connolly has had the pleasure of singing Andre Catrini’s beautiful music for over a decade. However, even after learning more than 50 of his compositions, she could not have dreamed of a privilege so incredible as collaborating on Thursdays at 4:15. Andre has crafted something so articulate, evocative, and timely, and sharing it with you today is not only a great joy, but a great honor. Carlyn would like to express her endless gratitude to her dear friend for this unparalleled opportunity–to say that this process has been a gift would be the understatement of a lifetime.
Broadway: Moulin Rouge. B’way National Tour: A Chorus Line. Off-Broadway: Invisible Thread (Second Stage). Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, The MUNY, Steppenwolf Theatre Co., ART, Denver Center, Geva Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, PCLO, North Shore Music Theatre, TUTS, Stages St. Louis and many more. TV: Pose (FX), Younger (TVLand), The Other Two (HBO Max), Side Hustle (Nickelodeon). Film: Loulou, Take Care, Newlyweeds. Training: Baltimore School for the Arts, AMDA.
Laura Girard is a proud graduate of the Ball State University BFA Musical Theatre program. She was recently seen dancing at Nationwide Arena with the Tom Sartori Band, and in Lippa's The Wild Party in collaboration with the Yale School of Music. She currently lives in New York with her boyfriend and her cat.
Laura Hodos (AEA) is a multi-award winning singer, actor, improv artist, and cabarista .As a NYC native who now makes her home in Orlando, Laura has performed from Maine to Florida to Los Angeles to Tokyo! She’s been a soloist with the Orlando Philharmonic, the Jacksonville Symphony, the Sarasota Orchestra, and the Klezmer Company Jazz Orchestra, and is delighted to have shared the stage with Tituss Burgess, Laura Osnes, Jeremy Jordan, Faith Prince, Davis Gaines, Andrea McArdle, Jason Robert Brown, and Donna Murphy (to name a few of her idols!). Her voiceover work is familiar to ears throughout the years for the Walt Disney World Resort. She’s a fierce amateur baker, an aspiring photographer, mom to three cats, a Dickinson College and AMDA grad, and a proud member of Actors’ Equity.
Jacob Hoffman • Actor, Singer, Writer, Teacher • NY/Off-Broadway: Howard Crabtree’s When Pigs Fly (The Actors Fund), I’ll Be Damned (The Vineyard Theatre), Bless You All! (Connelly Theatre), Scary Musical: The Musical (York Theatre), Jacob Hoffman's Kindergarten Thanksgiving Spectacular (The Green Room 42). Select Regional: Geva Theatre Center, Arkansas Rep., ACT of Connecticut, Pioneer Theatre Co., Utah Shakespearean Festival, Bay Street Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Arkansas Rep., and Porchlight Music Theatre. Proud AEA member.
Jorie Janeway is a musical theatre performer with a heart for teaching. As a performer, Jorie has worked in regional houses, done national/international tours, performed overseas, and on cruise ships. As a teacher, Jorie has had the opportunity to instruct, choreograph, and direct kids and adults of all ages. Most recently, Jorie became the founder of Jorieography, a theatre training program designed to bring triple threat workshops to students wherever they are. Favorite credits include: Female Authority Figure (Hairspray National Tour and Royal Caribbean), Chaperone (The Drowsy Chaperone), Maggie Jones (42nd Street), Ensemble (Sister Act), Fairy Godmother (Shrek), Mistress Quickly (The Merry Wives of Windsor).
Tracie Elaine Lee
Off-Broadway: Safeword. First National tour: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Uptown). Select Regional: Dreamgirls (Michelle), Fortress of Solitude (Marilla), Les Miserables (Eponine), Cabaret (Texas), Stagger Lee. Many thanks to Avalon Artists Group & Kate Lumpkin Casting. Endless love to God, Dad, Mom, Janelle & Bop.
David Merten just completed his first year as an MFA Acting student at Brown University/Trinity Rep. He made his New York Off-Broadway debut with a seven-month run of the hit play Afterglow at The Davenport Theatre. Other New York/regional credits include Sons of the Prophet, The Two Gentlemen Of Verona, And Then There Were None, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival Acting Apprentice program. Catch him in the popular fiction podcasts Gay Future and Meet Cute on iTunes, as well as the web series Queen's English, streaming online now. He is a proud graduate of Ball State University's BFA Acting program as well as a proud member of AEA.
Mike Schwitter just finished traveling for two years with the national tour of Les Misérables (covering Marius and Enjolras.) Broadway: Pippin (Lewis, u/s Pippin). National Tour: The Book of Mormon (Swing, u/s Elder Price). Regional: Next to Normal (Regional Premier and elsewhere; Gabe), Jesus Christ Superstar, Love Changes Everything, Chamberlain. Other favorites include HAIR, Urinetown, and Anything Goes. Mike has also performed with dozens of symphonies across the country in shows such as Cirque Musica, "The Spy Who Loved Me" with Sheena Easton, and West Side Story at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Mike holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and currently resides in New York City.
Christine Cornish Smith
Christine Cornish Smith was most recently seen on Broadway in the Original Revival Cast of Kiss Me, Kate!, where she was a featured dancer in the ensemble and covered Lois Lane/Bianca. Christine is most well known for her portrayal of Bombalurina in the OBC revival of CATS, where she was nominated for a 2017 Chita Rivera Award for Best female performance in a Broadway Musical. She was also seen in the OBC of My Fair Lady in 2018 at Lincoln Center. A cum laude graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, other credits include: Laurey Williams in Susan Stroman’s Oklahoma! at the MUNY, Sheila Bryant in A Chorus Line at the Riverside Theater, original revival tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat helmed by Andy Blankenbuehler, and more. She has also performed as a principal vocalist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Phoenix Symphony, and the Niagara Symphony Orchestra, as well as was a finalist in Kurt Weill’s Lotte Lenya Vocal Competition in 2014. She appeared in the 25th Anniversary Concert performance of Crazy For You at Lincoln Center and has also appeared on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver, “Good Morning, America”, “The Today Show”, “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”, and “The Tony Awards". Christine is a teacher for Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, CLI studios, Institute of American Musical Theater, Broadway Workshop, Broadway On Demand, Broadway Classroom, among other programs. She has been featured on Playbill.com, Broadway.com, Inside Dance Magazine, and BroadwayBox as one of the "Incredible Debuts" of the 2016 Broadway season. Catch Christine on the upcoming season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon Prime Video coming fall 2021!
Broadway: OBC CATS (Pouncival), Tuck Everlasting. Off-Broadway: Grand Hotel (Encores!). Tours: Hamilton (Chicago), A Chorus Line (Richie), Bring It On: The Musical (La Cienega). Regional: Kennedy Center, TUTS, MUNY, Asolo Rep. Dance Companies: The Chase Brock Experience, Life Dance Company, and the Von Howard Project. Film: Happy, Yummy, Chicken. TV: Under The Influence, Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade, GMA, Today Show. Executive Producer, writer, and star of the award-winning web series, NEIGHBORS - now available to stream on YouTube. Sharrod is the CEO of multi-media company, Cocoa Dusted Productions - dedicated to telling stories by queer folx and people of color. “Keep Going”.
Meet the Team
Andre is a composer/lyricist based out of New York City. His musical, The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit (Book by Allan Knee) had its world premiere at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, England in 2019.
Other works include: A Problem with the Pattersons (Book by Laura Zlatos), The Wolf (Book by Joe Calarco), Thursdays at 4:15, Other Women and Whisper, Love.
Awards include: 2014 ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award, given “in recognition for his outstanding talent as a musical theatre composer and lyricist,” as well as a 2015 New Voices Project Merit Award.
Andre is a member of ASCAP, an alumnus of the ASCAP Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Workshop, a current member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop, and a graduate of the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.
Douglas Lyons is an actor, writer, director, composer, and playwright. Writing - TV: Fraggle Rock (Apple TV). Theater: Polkadots (Off Broadway Alliance Winner Best Family Show, Atlantic Theater Company), Chicken and Biscuits (Queens Theatre), Sunshine (Long Wharf Theatre), Pete(Her)Pan (Pace New Musicals), Five Points(world premiere Theater Latte Da), now directed by Hamilton's Andy Blankenbuehler, Fatigue with Jodi Piccoult, We The People (TheatreworksUSA), The Hamlet Remix and Sunflower ( Flint Rep). Acting - Broadway: Beautiful (Original Cast) and The Book of Mormon. Tours: Rent, Dreamgirls and The Book of Mormon 1st National. Douglas is also the founder of The Next Wave Initiative, a scholarship program dedicated to supporting the future of Black Theater artists.
Melissa Rain Anderson
Melissa Rain Anderson (Director) Regional Premier of The Play that Goes Wrong and The Wolves at The Repertory Theater of St. Louis; A Christmas Carol at Denver Center Theater Company (several years); Macbeth, Big River and The Cocoanuts at Utah Shakespeare Festival; The Wolves at Syracuse Stage and All is Calm- The Christmas Truce of 1914 at Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Melissa is an Affiliate Artist at Geva Theatre Center where she has directed In the Heights, HAIR, La Cage Aux Folles, A Funny Thing…Forum, Spamalot, Spelling Bee among others. Upcoming: RII at Santa Cruz Shakespeare. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, actor Jim Poulos.
Julie is an NYC based artist and educator. Most recently Julie was seen on the First National Tour of Hello,Dolly! Other favorite credits include: The First National Tour of La Cage Aux Folles; Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, (Theatre Aspen); Dyanne in Million Dollar Quartet (Florida Repertory Theatre); Lila Dixon in Holiday Inn (Fingerlakes Musical Theatre), Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone (The Cape Playhouse), Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street (Weston Playhouse, Forestburgh Playhouse, Fingerlakes Musical Theatre); Miss Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Millie (Ogunquit Playhouse); and Katherine in Newsies (Arts Center of Coastal Carolina). Julie serves as the Artistic Director for Broadway Method Academy in Fairfield, CT where favorite choreography credits include The Music Man, High School Musical Jr., Legally Blonde Jr, and Broadway Sings! Proud CCM Grad.
Design Credits: KNEAD (The Alliance Theatre, world premiere), AFTERGLOW, and MY NAME'S NOT INDIAN JOE (Davenport Theater, off-broadway), A REAL BOY (59E59, Off-Broadway), JONAH AND OTTO, and TRIAL OF AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT (Theatre Row, Off-Broadway),THE NIGHT ALIVE (Guild Hall, NY), THE DODGERS (Hudson Theater, LA). Associate Design Credits: JITNEY (Broadway-Tony Award Nom. for Set Design), PHISH NYE CONCERT ’16/’17 (Madison Square Garden), THE CHILDREN (Broadway), INK (Broadway), ANASTASIA (First National Tour + EU Productions) & SAMSON ET DALILA (The Metropolitan Opera). Ann is a Live Design/LDI 30 Under 30 recipient for working professionals that are on the rise in live production, a New York Innovative Theater Award 2x Nominee for Best Set Design, and a United Solo Festival Award Winner for Best Set Design. Syracuse University Alumna & proud member of USA 829.
Off-Broadway: Accidentally Brave (DR2), We Are The Tigers (Theatre80), Midnight at the Never Get (York Theatre) Red Roses, Green Gold (Minetta Lane), The Woodsman (New World Stages, PBS), Afterglow, A Dog Story, Ken Davenport's That Bachelorette Show. London: It Happened in Key West. Regional: The Bikinis! (Long Wharf Theatre, Riverside Theatre, WBT), Romeo & Juliet (CSC) Midsummer, Macbeth, Hamlet (SOS). Recent credits include: Kerrigan and Lowdermilk's The Bad Years, FMK, More Than All The World.
Kevin Heard is a sound designer and entertainment producer based in New York City. His theatrical sound design work has been heard Off-Broadway: Einstein’s Dreams, safeword., #DateMe, The Hello Girls, Midnight at The Never Get, In & Of Itself; on Broadway (as Associate Designer): The Minutes, All the Way, The Cherry Orchard, The Country House; and the International Premieres of Fun Home, Kinky Boots, and Matilda in Manila, Philippines; also, dozens of regional productions from coast to coast. Kevin is an independent producer and general manager who works frequently with BenDeLaCreme Presents, among others, and recently produced his first feature film with The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special, now streaming on Hulu.
Kate Lumpkin Casting
New York Theatre: OSCAR @ The Crown, We Are Here (dir. Steven Hoggett), Medusa, We Are The Tigers, Safeword, Afterglow, Cleopatra, The Bad Years, Eco Village, A Complicated Woman, Boarders, Between The Bars,Unraveled, Letters to the President, Reunion '69, Single Rider, Diaspora, The Other Side of Paradise, Counting Sheep, Sitting Bull's Last Waltz, The Excavation of Mary Anning, Agent 355, Emma: A New Musical, Love In Hate Nation, Five Points, Hart Island, Eastbound, Interstate, Honey Dipped Apocalypse Girls, Fefu and Her Friends. National Tour: Bandstand (1st National Tour). Regional Theatre: Endlings at American Repertory Theater & NYTW, West Side Story at The Kennedy Center, On The Town at The Kennedy Center, Beau at The Adirondack Theatre Festival, Evocation to Visible Appearance at Actors Theatre of Louisville, We Are Here at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Opium at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas , A Christmas Carol 18', 19' at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Reunion '69 & Reunion '85 at the Newman Center.
Andrew is a writer, cellist, and actor based in NYC. CONCERTS: Alan Cumming, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kate Baldwin, Disney's Into the Woods, and many more. PIT ORCHESTRAS: A Little Night Music, Into the Woods, Baby, Floyd Collins, The Light in the Piazza, Jane Eyre, The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit, Clicquot. RECORDINGS: The Way to the Lighthouse, We the Nighthawks, Only Boyfriend (Brendan Maclean and Lance Horne), The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit, and numerous collaborations with the sensational musicians behind Apartment Sessions. ACTOR: The Fulton Theatre, Virginia Repertory Theatre, Theatre Raleigh, Marvell Repertory Theatre, Firebone Theatre. WRITER: Plant: The Second Coming (Nashville Film Festival, Indie Series Awards), In the Desert Footlights (Sundance New Voices Lab and Orchard Project Finalist).
Stage Management Credits include Midnight at the Never Get (York Theatre Company), Paradise Lost (Fellowship for the Performing Arts), Afterglow (Davenport Theatre), Othello: The Remix (Westside Theatre), Cagney the Musical (Westside Theatre), and Drunk Shakespeare. Film/TV PA Credits: Law & Order: SVU, TED Talks. Graduate of Pace University. Member of AEA.
Evan Bernardin Productions
EBP is a general management firm specializing in consulting and management for theatrical productions. Touring: Million Dollar Quartet, Charlie Brown Christmas, Counting Sheep (International Tour) Select Off-Broadway: We Are The Tigers, Eco-Village, Afterglow, Diaspora, Must. Other: The Bikinis, The Dodgers (LA), The Navigator (NYT Critics Pick). EBP has worked with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA), New York Musical Festival (NYMF), Fringe (NY & LA); collaborative projects include performances at Lincoln Center, The United Nations, The Havard Club, Cornell University, Georgetown’s Gaston Hall, The Culture Project, The Ohio Theater and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Chisholm Designs is a New York-based Web Development company, specializing in the curation of a strong and effective digital presence for individual artists to Fortune 500 companies. Clients range from Broadway performers, National tours, non-profits, award-winning orchestras, internationally acclaimed doctors, production houses, and more.
Marquee Digital is a New York-based tech startup innovating the theatre industry with ground-breaking digital program solutions. The Marquee is a paperless program for the 21st century, employing contactless, eco-friendly, and ADA-compliant technology to create an interactive and highly intuitive experience for audiences at the theatre, opera, art fairs, conferences, and concerts. In the company’s first year, Marquees have been opened in venues across the United States and in more than 80 countries around the globe.
Pre-Show Snack or
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Grab a Bite
American | 1635 Amsterdam Ave
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Burgers, pasta & other Italian & American eats served in a snug bistro with a neighborhood vibe.
Oyster Bar | 3452 Broadway
Japanese option for several varieties of ramen, plus snacks, a raw bar & sophisticated cocktails.
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Cozy pub offering a huge selection of craft beers on tap, plus spirits & cocktails.
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While You Wait
With the help of our friends at Theatrely.com, Marquee Digital has you covered with exclusive content while you wait for the curtain to rise.
AND… SCENE! They Nearly Tore the Balcony Down!
And...Scene! is Juan A. Ramirez's weekly column with hot takes, musings, and all that jazz.
The 18th column! On the 18th day! And now that the column is a legal, consenting adult, it has made the decision to go bi-weekly (not a phase).
To celebrate the occasion, Broadway reopened on Tuesday and I was on the ground, at the Ambassador Theatre, to see my beloved Chicago. Turns out the left mezzanine was more the place to be, given the absolute commotion going on towards the end of the musical’s iconic “Hot Honey Rag.”
There I was, waiting to see if Ana Villafañe would do the number’s final cartwheel (she didn’t), when my friend turned me towards the back of the house, where a whole bunch of yelling and moving around was happening. As much as I love syncopation in musical theatre, this was a bit much.
Leave it to theatre Twitter, recently just so, so hyperactive—do y’all have jobs?— to fill in the blanks my mind couldn’t while busy hearing Velma talk about “what a wonderful country this is.”
This account is pieced together from several, ahem, unnamed sources who privately slid into my DMs. Some were there, some had friends there, some had access to the Ambassador’s show reports, and virtually all aligned. So this might come closest to the Gwen’s Honest Truth as we’re ever going to get about the fateful events of September 14.
A woman in the back row would apparently not stay quiet throughout the entire show, and the woman in front of her kept shooting back dirty looks. (Second-to-last-row woman: I see you, I hear you.) If we all remember the plot correctly, the first act ends with a declaration of “unrelenting determination and unmitigated ego.” Well, Back Row Betty gets on her phone during intermission to tell her friend how pissed she is that she can’t sing along to the score (tea, honestly) and how her fellow audience members weren’t taking kindly to her responding to spoken lines (!).
Lights dimmed again and, by the time the last number drew its standing ovations, Second-to-Last Sally turned around and said something about her lack of theatrical etiquette. Sally underestimated her opponent’s bravado, because Betty yanked her hair as proof of receipt. Both women inspired by the show’s message of female rivalry, this escalated into an all-out fight. Per my most detailed source, “slaps are slapped, punches are thrown, gum is spat in someone’s hair, and a ‘STOP TOUCHING ME, B****’ is shouted across the mezz. The Usual.”
(“For the record, I am told they kept their masks on the whole time, so I don't know how the gum got involved, but "gum in hair" was mentioned.”)
Because people are, understandably, trying to learn the show’s moral lesson, a good chunk of the left mezzanine became involved. Some shushed, some stared, Sally’s friend intervened and also got hit. The classic “Guards! Guards!” was yelled out and an usher escorted Betty and her friend out, but not before she threatened to stab Sally, and shouted some expletives I’d rather not write.
My favorite part of the thread of replies that inevitably came from my initial Tweet is the innocent shock people expressed at bad behavior in a Broadway audience. Folks, I will one day tell you about the time a 10-year-old me was nearly beat up by a large Italian man for accidentally kicking his seat during a performance of Hairspray. Or the time a much older, ostensibly wiser me almost brawled during The Cher Show because someone wouldn’t stop talking during “Dark Lady” (one of her best songs!).
Theatre is back and bringing the best out of us! See y’all on the aisles.
Follow Juan A. at @itsNumberJuan.
AND...SCENE! As If We Never Said Goodbye
According to so many accounts, September 11, 2001 started with a gorgeous morning. In the third episode of Spike Lee’s documentary series “NYC Epicenters 9/11→ 2021½,” there's a montage of interviews with New Yorkers who all emphatically express this point. The phrase “It was a beautiful day” is repeated so many times that the words lose their meaning. This supercut culminates in a man stating, “And of course, 9/11 was one of the most beautiful days God had ever created. It was just clear.” There was no way anyone could have predicted the panic and carnage that would follow.
For me, September 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C. seemed like the kind of day that these New Yorkers were talking about. The sticky humidity that defines summers around the Chesapeake Bay had finally simmered down. Walking outside felt like a treat, not a burden. A few clouds strolled through the sky as the sun beamed down, pristine and gentle.
So when I stepped onto the National Mall, my first time visiting a tourist-heavy destination since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I felt a mixture of relief and fear. Looking at the view from the Lincoln Memorial, I could see the Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building: America’s symbols of establishment endurance. Everything seemed to be easing back into some kind of normalcy. Tourists, masked and unmasked, took selfies. College running groups huddled together. And hundreds of people laid out folding chairs and picnic blankets to watch a concert version of the Broadway musical Come From Away, which was being performed that evening in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
Audiences couldn’t have asked for better weather; it was a perfect day. But within the day’s beauty was a low hum of sadness, the remnants of another perfect day twenty years ago that nobody in America could enjoy.
Gathering at the Lincoln Memorial this past Friday, despite the isolation and tragedy that have shaped the past two years, perfectly matched the triumphant but cautious mood of Come From Away. The show follows an unexpected effect of the attacks of September 11, 2001—the day in which terrorists hijacked four planes and destroyed New York City’s Twin Towers and Washington D.C.’s Pentagon Building. One of the dizzying questions faced by the world that day was where to land all of the planes still in flight on that fateful morning. The answer, for 38 passenger jets, was the small Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland. The town was equipped with an international airport that, in the 20th century, would refuel planes on its island shores after long journeys across the Atlantic. Over the course of a few hours, Gander’s population of around 10,000 people was suddenly accommodating 6,579 passengers and crew members.
Even in a state of emergency, the residents of Gander banded together to welcome their new arrivals, called “Come From Aways” or “plane people.” Newfoundlanders converted their town’s churches, schools, and community centers into makeshift places of refuge. Despite differences in language, race, and nationality, the residents of Gander and the plane people slowly integrated over five days into a blended community. Everyone was terrified about the way the world had changed instantaneously, while also grateful for the chance to feel connected to something greater than themselves. By the time planes were able to leave on September 16, life-long relationships had been forged by people who would have never met if not for the tragedy.
Gander being the setting for a hit Broadway musical might seem just as nonsensical as a friendship being born on one of the saddest days in American history. But when married writing/composing duo Irene Sankoff and David Hein traveled to Gander on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the storytelling abilities of both the Newfoundlanders and Come From Aways compelled them to translate the story onto the stage. Come From Away offers audiences a unique blend of dramaturgies. The show functions with the documentary theatre techniques seen in a work like “The Laramie Project,” using direct address to the audience, direct quotes compiled by interviews, and actors switching between multiple characters. But Sankoff and Hein weave in their folk-rock score, inspired equally by showtunes as by Irish-Canadian music.
Since 2011, Come From Away has had a rich production history across North America. The musical was staged at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse (2015), Seattle Repertory Theatre (2015), Washington D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre (2016), returned to Gander for two sold-out performances, and arrived on Broadway in 2017. In 2018, the show was nominated for seven Tony Awards, with Christopher Ashley winning the award for Best Direction. Before the pandemic, a North American tour, as well as West End and Australian productions, were running.
Then came March of 2020, when once again the world halted, but instead of any communal gathering everyone was forced into isolation. After nearly two years of social distancing and remote/digital theater projects, vaccinations and mask-mandates have made the return of live in-person theater possible despite the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The return of live theater presented an obstacle but also an opportunity for Ford’s Theatre director Paul R. Tetreault, who wanted to create an experience that would be unique for Washington D.C. audiences. Part of the reason why Come From Away had a pre-Broadway run at Ford’s Theatre was because of D.C.’s close connection to 9/11, so reviving the show for one day in the city seemed like a perfect plan.
“I thought, ‘What would separate us from everyone else trying to open at the same time?’” Tetreault told me in an interview I had with the production’s creative team by the Reflecting Pool. “And I say, ‘What if we try to present [Come From Away] here, and offer it free for everyone?’ We never thought about charging anyone. We always thought we’d do it free on the Mall, and offer it as our gift to the community.”
Having the concert version of Come From Away be free to anyone who passes by it transforms the show from a cloistered theatrical experience into a piece of public art, mirroring the monuments that surrounded the stage. Conversations about accessibility within the theatre industry have been given a spotlight by the pandemic. In the 2020-21 season, many regional theaters adapted to filming staged readings or performances that, through streaming, could have much larger and more diverse audiences than could have ever come to see shows in one theater. The wild success of a filmed stage-version of Hamilton that premiered on Disney+ in the summer of 2020 has also proved that filmed shows can help, not hamper, a show’s ticket sales.
While Come From Away was originally set to be adapted into a film, director Christopher Ashley instead reunited the original Broadway cast and recorded their performances at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in May of 2021. The filmed stage show premiered on Apple TV+ the same day as the Lincoln Memorial concert. Come From Away has probably never had a bigger audience than on September 10, 2021.
These steps for accessibility were important to Sue Frost and Randy Adams, founding partners at Junkyard Productions and leading producers on Come From Away.
“I don’t think [the film is] going to cannibalize the stage show, I think it will make people more excited about the opportunity to see it,” Frost told me. “But if they can’t, if they’re not able to, if they don’t live in an area where there’s a tour or the show itself, how great it is we’re able to share this story with as many people as possible.”
When Come From Away premiered on Broadway in 2017, critics and audiences alike praised its themes of multiculturalism, acceptance across identities, and hospitality towards immigrants—all of which seemed in opposition to then President Trump’s multiple travel bans and demeaning rhetoric towards other countries. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the show has only seemed more timely in a country increasingly divided on political issues, where communities and even families are torn apart. The parallels, and differences, between 2001 and 2021 were on the minds of the creative team as they assembled the concert production and the film.
“I was walking to rehearsal one day, and Times Square was completely empty,” director Christopher Ashley told me. “And I felt like, ‘When was the last time I’ve seen it like this?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, it was 9/11 when everything shut down.’ I do think that they’re not the same moment, but they’re two of the most traumatic events in my lifetime in America. I think both of the paths out of it are going to be the opposite of selfishness. It’s going to be how much we can draw together.”
The concert version of Come From Away was a surreal sight to behold. I’m not sure I’ve experienced that level of enthusiasm for a theatrical performance, with such an enormous scale and spectacle, outside of a Taylor Swift stadium tour—and Taylor didn’t necessarily have the gravity of 9/11 and the nation’s aching consciousness on her mind.
At the start of the concert, Paul R. Tetreault thanked everyone for coming and acknowledged the real-life “plane people'' in the audience: Nick and Diane Marson, two strangers at the start of 9/11 who fell in love with each other in Gander, and Kevin Tuerff, an advertiser and founder of Pay It Forward 9/11. Up next was Kirsten Hillman, American Ambassador of Canada to the United States. She noted the special relationship between the two countries, stating that “an embrace [can be] as important as food and water,” and described the show as “an anthem of ordinary people”—an apt phrase for a musical proud not about specific patriotic views, but about shared humanity. Finally, veteran D.C. actor Craig Wallace invoked the tragic legacy of Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre along with 9/11, but highlighted the resilience of creating theater despite fear.
“We’re all fellow passengers in life, helping each other along the way,” he noted.
As the insistent, thrumming melody of the opening number, “Welcome to the Rock,” began, Come From Away’s exuberance melded with the solemnity of the event. The cast performed on a medium-sized stage in front of the orchestra, which played everything from the violin to the banjo to the delightfully percussive ugly stick. Two jumbo-trons on each side of the performers captured all of the cast’s movements for the audience that gathered on each side of the reflecting pool, and also had ASL interpreters translating the singing as well. The feeling of a raucous music festival juxtaposed with the stoic Abraham Lincoln statue was delightful. The concert paid tribute to D.C.’s austere architecture while also revising the city’s self-seriousness, creating a jubilant atmosphere more reflecting North America’s small-town charm.
Due to the concert style, the talented ensemble of twelve actors (assembled from the Broadway and tour casts) didn’t completely re-create the intricate choreography of the stage show. Most of the time the cast stood in a line, singing into their microphones “Seasons of Love” style. While I missed some of the inventive stage pictures that were on full display on the Apple TV+ film, it’s a testament to the actors that they were able to successfully convey distinct changes of character, place, and tone through only the timbre of their voices.
Come From Away strangely reaches its fullest potential when the show lets the characters have fun. When we watch the perverse enjoyment characters get from partying or letting loose while the world feels like it’s falling apart, we also feel that surprising joy. I loved when the audiences whooped at the mere entrance of Nick and Diane onstage, or when actors broke out of his line to hype the audience up, and especially when Julie Reiber, portraying Captain Beverly Bass, belted out “Me and the Sky” with a Kelly Clarkson-like verve that got the audience hollering.
Of course, Come From Away works because of its tonal balance between sincere joy and deep sorrow. Watching the show at the very same place where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech brought out reverberations in Come From Away that I couldn’t have predicted. I found myself unsettled by the show’s representations of the darker sides of humanity, which couldn’t be smoothed out by a joke and a drink. Throughout the performance, planes soared past the Lincoln Memorial on the way to Ronald Reagan Airport. They were stark reminders that while things may go back to normal, some things never look quite the same.
In between watching the show, I also watched the audience around me. Our laughter bounced upwards, our faces reflected downwards, the crowd cheered behind us. I was immersed in the hunger to be a part of something. To really connect. The show seemed to be urging me that communal gathering is one way of easing the pain of all the unbearable things we’re expected to live through right now.
It’s interesting that Come From Away is streaming on Apple TV+, the same streaming service where the Sundance smash-hit film CODA and the Emmy juggernaut Ted Lasso also reside. They’re a pop culture trilogy tailor-made for the Biden presidency: all trace collisions between rural communities and urban ones, where compromises are crucial to the plot, climactic moments are built around songs, and kindness is king. All have been wildly popular, uplifted as calls for humanity in an apocalyptic era. While I would also hope we might change the institutions that led to this chaos, I can’t deny that watching these stories brings me closer to my friends and family.
The idea of empathy was something that the creative team behind Come From Away hoped audiences might learn from the people of Gander.
“The people of Gander… they don’t understand what the big hoo-rah is,” Randy Adams told me. “They said, ‘We just took care of people. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?’ I feel like that’s the country we live in, and maybe this show will help remind people that’s what we’re supposed to do, take care of each other.”
Capturing that sense of care before it’s forgotten was also an important element of continuing to stage Come From Away for the creative team. 9/11 was my first day of pre-school. The only dim memories I have of that day come in flashes: fighter jets ripping through the sky, my parents refusing to let me watch the news. The creative team felt that the show speaks to a particular moment in American history that is increasingly relevant, especially for the people who don’t have first-hand memories of the day.
“That attack affected every single American, whether you knew someone who perished on that day or not, and I think that’s really important,” Paul R. Tetreault told me. “We’re learning and living it now, as you see what’s happening in Afghanistan, that’s directly related to 9/11.”
The finale of Come From Away was rapturous. All of us stood on our feet, cheering for the unlikely companionship that could be found in the face of unimaginable odds. It seemed like, at times, the audience itself was its own form of unlikely companionship as well.
As I walked out of the venue, I noticed two competing memorials on the horizon. First was the Lincoln Memorial, lit up in all of its reverent glory. The temple-like structure harkens back to antiquity, feeling sacred but also prophetic: this structure was built to outlast the people who created it, to live on for generations and rising oceans and centuries I’ll never get to see. And then there was a solitary beam of light, shooting up from the Pentagon endlessly upward in the sky. As a memorial, it’s distinctly modern and abstract: a glowing, fluorescent haze with no faces, no structure, no bodies. It evokes the countless memories that were lost, the pain we will never know. The Pentagon shines this light for a few days, and then suddenly, it’s gone.
The beauty of Come From Away as a memorial is how the show takes the best elements of the Lincoln Memorial and the Pentagon’s light, and blends them together. Like the Lincoln Memorial, we’re reminded that the people of Gander and the Come From Aways were real people who found a way to not just survive, but thrive in unimaginable circumstances. Like the Pentagon’s light, the show is fluid enough to allow any of us to imagine ourselves in that situation, to channel their resilience for ourselves. Together, Come From Away becomes the best kind of memorial, just like the time spent by the plane people in Gander. Your physical presence in the space might be short, but your memory of that encounter will last a lifetime.
"Come From Away" is now streaming on Apple TV Plus and returns to Broadway on September 21, 2021.
THE MUSEUM OF BROADWAY is Headed to Time Square Next Summer
Theatre fans rejoice! The first-ever permanent museum dedicated to the history and legacy of Broadway musicals, plays, and theatres will open next summer at 145 West 45th Street, next to the Lyceum Theatre.
From producer Julie Boardman and Diane Nicolette, The Museum of Broadway will offer guests a unique look at the rich history of Broadway, a sneak peek behind-the-scenes, and a chance to personally engage with the “Game-Changing” shows that redefined Broadway forever.
“In the theatre we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We are thrilled to create a museum honoring Broadway’s extraordinary history, the trailblazers who pushed the art form forward and celebrate its bright future,” said Julie Boardman. “We’re delighted to be working closely with members of the theatre community to build an authentic experience that visitors of all ages will enjoy.”
The Museum of Broadway has teamed up with internationally renowned artists, designers, and theatre historians to create an interactive, multi-floor experience that highlights groundbreaking moments throughout Broadway’s illustrious history.
“For people all over the world, Broadway is synonymous with NYC. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a die-hard fan or just a casual theatre lover, The Museum of Broadway aims to offer a bit of education, plenty of appreciation and a whole lot of fun for everyone, young and old and everywhere in between,” said Diane Nicoletti.
The Museum of Broadway is founded in collaboration with Playbill, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Billy Rose Theatre Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, The Al Hirschfeld Foundation, Concord Theatricals, Goodspeed Musicals and additional partners to be announced soon.
Tickets are expected to go on sale later this year. For more information, and to visit the online store which is now open, visit here.
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