After 18 months of darkened theatres due to COVID-19, Broadway's biggest hits are finally back and playing to live audiences in New York City.
Four of Broadway's most popular musicals, including "Hamilton," "The Lion King," "Wicked" and "Chicago," had their opening nights on Tuesday after a long pandemic shutdown. Audiences who attended the openings were treated to surprise guest appearances and high emotions as curtains lifted.
Before audiences entered the Richard Rodgers Theatre to see "Hamilton," the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, welcomed the public back to Broadway with a rendition of "New York, New York," joined by cast members of "The Lion King" and "Wicked."
Once the audience was seated, Miranda appeared on stage to welcome them back to the theatre.
"I don't ever want to take live theater for granted ever again, do you? It's so sacred," Miranda told the audience, Reuters reported. "I'm so grateful to you and I hope you go see as many shows as you can and keep supporting our industry."
Over at the Gershwin theatre, actress Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the role of Glinda in "Wicked" about 20 years ago, appeared before the start of the show to welcome audiences back telling them, "There's no place like home."
Within the first minute of the show, the audience gave a standing ovation. And the curtain call stretched on, even bringing composer Steven Schwartz on stage.
Before "The Lion King" opened, director Julie Taymor came on stage to welcome back audiences. And as "Chicago" reopened to long applause after every number.
In order to enter theatres, audience members must show proof of vaccination (those younger than 12 can provide a negative COVID-19 test) and remain masked.
The shows are not the first to reopen their doors on Broadway. About two weeks ago, "Waitress" and "Hadestown" welcomed back audiences. And "Pass Over" became the first new play on Broadway to debut to audiences since the pandemic.
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Broadway closed almost immediately in March 2020 as COVID-19 began to spread around New York. The theatres have closed since, marking the longest shutdown in Broadway history.