Broadway reawakens in New York, Salt Lake City

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Broadway posters appear outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre during COVID-19 lockdown in New York on May 13, 2020.” Broadway has begun to reopen this fall in New York and Salt Lake City. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Broadway is swinging open this fall after COVID-19 forced musicals and plays to close in March 2020. Theaters on New York City’s “Great White Way” and across the country, including in Salt Lake City, are beginning to fill up with excited spectators. 

Not only is Broadway open again but many of the most popular shows are back on tour. The Eccles Theater, located on 131 S. Main Street, is welcoming back three beloved Broadway shows this year — “Disney’s Frozen,” “Mean Girls” and “Hamilton.”

The very first shows to return to Broadway in September were “Hadestown” and “Waitress.” They began performances on Sept. 2. “Six,” “Moulin Rouge!” and “Aladdin” opened later in the month.

“The performing arts is a really important part of our culture here,” said Cami Munk, the public relations manager for Salt Lake County Center for the Arts.

The community is enthusiastic about the return of live performances. According to Munk, tickets for their regular shows have been selling well and they expect the same from the Broadway performances. 

Megan Sanborn Jones, chair of BYU’s Department of Theatre and Media Arts, said she feels very fortunate Salt Lake City is on the Broadway tour route.

“The real benefit of having a Broadway touring show come to Utah is how it introduces all audiences — aspiring actors, theatre students of all kinds, those who just love to watch theatre — to the newest productions that are happening in New York City,” Sanborn Jones said. 

Students in the BYU community have been missing the theater and many have been feeling as though the world went to sleep.

Freja Jorgensen is a senior majoring in fine arts acting from Snohomish, Washington. “I’m excited it’s coming back; the community is rekindling,” she said. 

Bethany Teames, a senior from Suwanee, Georgia, said she feels as though “the world is coming alive again.” Teames is a fine arts acting major and said the return of theater is a miracle. 

“You can watch movies and you can watch TV but there’s nothing like being in a room together, seeing something live, and feeling the energy and emotions altogether,” Teames said.

Joshua Johnson, a junior majoring in acting, said he often found it difficult during the height of the pandemic to stay motivated. It was hard “knowing you’d never get to see the reactions of the people you hope to perform for.”

Even though the limitations caused by COVID-19 made it hard for Johnson to feel motivated, he said he never regretted his decision to go into acting. Jorgensen also said she never felt as though she had chosen the wrong major.

“It’s what I love, it feels right to do it. I’ve never regretted it,” she said.

Theater has an incredibly long history and has survived many world events, Sanborn Jones said. “It has survived the fall of empires, global disasters, the plague, world wars and now COVID-19. Those that love theater will always find a way to perform.”

The first Broadway show to return to the Eccles Theater will be “Disney’s Frozen” on Oct. 26. “Mean Girls” will begin performances on Nov. 30 and “Hamilton” will arrive on Dec. 28.

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