The curtain went up and so did people’s spirits.
Broadway shows returned Tuesday night after shutting down for a year and a half due to the pandemic — and the TODAY team was there for the big night.
Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie were on hand for “Wicked,” Carson Daly and Jenna Bush Hager went to “The Lion King” and Craig Melvin and Al Roker turned out for “Hamilton,” whose cast surprised the standby ticket lottery line with a performance of “New York, New York” that featured show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The stars of the shows were ecstatic to get back to work.
“I feel like running through the streets today being like, ‘Broadway is back!’” Ginna Claire Mason, who plays Glinda in “Wicked,” told Hoda and Savannah.
“So many shows are reopening today and you can feel it outside,” Elphaba actor Lindsay Pearce said. “The pulse, the pulse — I can feel it!”
Broadway had gone dark for 552 days due to the pandemic, and all 41 of its theaters require audience members to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination.
Miguel Cervantes, the leading star of “Hamilton,” said the return of Broadway signals the ability to resume our lives.
“Tonight’s not about ‘Hamilton,’” he told Al and Craig. “It’s about the city. It’s about the country. It’s about renewing our life and getting back to the new and moving forward.”
His co-star Krystal Joy Brown, who plays Eliza, said she’s ready to once again do what she loves for fans.
“I’m excited to be with my cast and crew, and I’m also excited to look out into an audience of people who are there to be inspired,” she said.
“The Lion King” stars Adrienne Walker and Brandon McCall told Carson and Jenna the show’s famed “hakuna matata” certainly applies to them.
“I think being away from the stage for so long, I learned a lot about myself, and so I do have less worries,” Walker said.
“‘Hakuna matata,’ that was my motto for the whole pandemic — no worries,” McCall said. “We’ll get through this. Everyone being here tonight, everyone stepping foot in that theater, it’s just a sign of perseverance, we all made it through together.”
It wasn’t just the current crop of Broadway stars who made it a magical night. Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the role of Glinda in “Wicked,” came out.
“Our hearts are beating so fast,” she told Hoda and Savannah. “This is the way to help our hearts. Arts has the power to change lives.”