The return of the glitzy red carpets of the past are back.
Celebrities including Cynthia Nixon, Andy Cohen, Ann Hathaway, Seth Meyers, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds all were notables present for the opening night of the highly anticipated revival of “The Music Man” starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster.
“How long has it been since we’ve all been here? The energy is back. Huge red carpets,” Jackman’s wife, Deborra Lee Furness, told Inside Edition.
The who’s who of fashion designers were on the carpet too, ahead of New York City Fashion Week. Diane Von Furstenberg, Donna Karen and Michael Kors all walked the tented press line outside the Winter Garden Theatre — the same theater which housed the original “West Side Story” back in 1957, which lost to “The Music Man” for best musical at the Tony Awards that season.
The star-studded red carpet may be a sign of ushering in the ending of the pandemic.
“No matter what we went through we are back up and operating. This is a great city and we are excited about the future,” Mayor Eric Adams (D) told Inside Edition’s Leigh Scheps.
Fans of the musical and the Wolverine have been scooping up tickets ever since the revival was announced in 2019. “The Music Man” marquee went up in June 2020. With Broadway shut down due to COVID-19, the theater sat empty for nearly two years. The show, about a fast-talking traveling salesman selling a boy band, was supposed to open in October 2020.
A few days into previews in December 2021, there was trouble in River City with a capital T. Nearly 60 people within the cast and crew tested positive for COVID. The show was shut down for 10 days so everyone could recover. But as the age-old saying goes: the show must go on. And it has.
“Yes, the pandemic was hard on us but we overcame it,” Governor Kathy Houchul (D) told Inside Edition. “This is really a comeback story and I’m glad to be enjoying it with my fellow New Yorkers.”
As New York state eases its mask mandate, New York City still requires them, along with proof of vaccination for everyone including kids ages 5 and up in Broadway theaters until at least April 30. Houchul says as COVID infection rates decrease, the mask mandate could drop in schools too. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy announced schools can lift their mask mandates beginning March 7.
“We might also be at same time frame. I wanted to wait until the kids are done with their next break. They are back February 28th. Give them a week to be tested. It may well be we have our masks off March 7,” Houchul said, noting every student is being sent free test kits.
Many students can have the opportunity to see the show themselves. With high ticket prices for “The Music Man,” the show is making available 10,000 tickets at $20 to New York City students, their families and teachers to help foster a love and appreciation for the arts by making Broadway more accessible.
A New York City high school marching band helped celebrate opening night by performing “76 Trombones” and “The Well Fargo Wagon” outside the theater.
“Our kids have been through a lot in this pandemic. And they suffered mightily,” said New York City School Chancellor David Banks. “We talk about what it’s going to take to get our kids back to where they need to be. Well, I will tell you what it’s going to take. It’s going to take music. It’s going to take theater. The arts. Because music and theater and dance is what is needed by the soul and the spirit of all of our young people.”
Music, theater and dance is what’s energizing the souls of New Yorkers as they climb out of the pandemic. For choreographer Warren Carlyle, teaching Hugh Jackman how to tap-dance for the “The Music Man” saved his life.
“It was an absolute gift to be able to teach him because I was in my apartment for two years. And for three days I had somewhere to go with someone I admire so much. It was life-saving,” Carlyle told Leigh Scheps on the red carpet.
“Live theatre is the life blood of any city,” added composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who penned “Cats” and Broadway’s longest running musical, “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Currently there are 19 shows playing in Broadway’s 41 theaters with 16 more shows expected to open through April.