Performers return to the stage on Broadway and King Street


Avery Kim '24

Theatre returns to stages from Broadway to Sacred Heart Greenwich.

After 18 months in darkness due to the coronavirus pandemic, lights are up on Broadway and King Street as theatre productions return to the stage.  Cornerstone musicals The Lion King, Wicked, and Hamilton: An American Musical delivered their first performances before live audiences since March 12, 2020 on Broadway’s unofficial re-opening night September 14, according to The New York TimesThe drama program at Sacred Heart Greenwich has also resumed rehearsals in the theatre for the Upper School fall play The Eumenides.

As the theatre industry reawakens, Broadway shows monitor coronavirus with frequent testing for performers and COVID-19 precautions for all audience members, according to The New York Times.  All ticket holders 12 years of age and older must show proof of vaccination at the doors, and those under 12 must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.  Theatre-goers must wear masks at all times.  Despite these safety protocols, Broadway musical Aladdin canceled over a week of performances due to COVID-19 cases within the cast and crew September 29, only one day after its reopening, according to CNN

Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda welcomes fans of Hamilton: An American Musical as the Broadway show returns to the stage.  Courtesy of Ms. Karsten Moran

Audiences are nevertheless ecstatic to be back, greeting performers with cheers and standing ovations.  Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton: An American Musical, made a surprise appearance before the show’s audience at Richard Rodgers Theatre September 14.  He thanked those who made the reopening possible and spoke to the value of live performance.  Ms. Kristen Chenoweth, who played Glinda in the original Broadway cast of Wicked, likewise addressed the audience at Gershwin Theatre, and Ms. Julie Taymor, the director and costume designer of The Lion King, welcomed crowds back to Minskoff Theatre, according to The New York Times

The New York Times contains a guide to the reopening dates of individual Broadway shows.  Most Broadway productions plan to reopen before the end of 2021.

Theatre students at Sacred Heart Greenwich are also back on the stage for the Upper School fall play The Eumenides, after hybrid performances of the 2020 Upper School fall play Much Ado About Nothing and the 2021 Upper School musical Annie.  For the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown, the cast rehearses in the Lennie and John de Csepel Theatre.  Students continue to follow mask and social distancing protocol, in accordance with safety guidelines from the Sacred Heart Health Office.  Miss Michaela Gorman ’05, Upper School Drama Teacher and Director of Drama Productions at Sacred Heart, spoke about the program’s return to the stage. 

“Those first few rehearsals back in our theatre felt like coming home,” Miss Gorman said.  “I have a renewed gratitude for the resources that we have and the ability to tell stories the way that we tell them.” 

Miss Gorman discussed possible methods of staging the performance of The Eumenides.  As COVID-19 guidelines are subject to change, the form of this year’s Upper School fall production will depend on what is safest for the cast, crew, and audience. 

The cast of The Eumenides rehearses in the Lennie and John de Csepel Theatre.  Avery Kim ’24

“As of right now, we are coordinating with the Health Office and waiting to see exactly how the show will be shared with an audience,” Miss Gorman said.  “We are hopeful that we will be able to have some live audience.”

Although the hybrid format of Much Ado About Nothing and Annie came with challenges, Miss Gorman described how the experience allowed students and educators to develop a new skill set. 

“I feel like our actors learned a lot, and I feel like we learned a lot,” Miss Gorman said.  “It was definitely an adventure.”

Students in Upper School Drama classes have discussed virtual theatre, acknowledging its benefits and its consequences.  While the coronavirus pandemic provided an opportunity for performers on both Broadway and King Street to learn and share their art with a wider community, Miss Gorman spoke to the power of live performance.

“I think what’s at the core of theatre, in so many ways, is human connection,” Miss Gorman said.  “Theatre is inherently a collaborative art form.  It is community-based art that brings people together.  You have your directors, your designers, and your actors, who each have different experiences and different training, all coming together to make something as a team and to provide something important to the people who come to view it who then, through the live performance, become a part of that collaborative process.”

Featured Image by Avery Kim ’24