Theater inspires everyone — even Broadway’s biggest stars. Here’s what some of them say were their favorite memories from throughout 2022, from touring Yankee Stadium for some background research for Take Me Out to watching Ariana DeBose host the Tony Awards. And some get a bit deep, like Alex Brightman reflecting on his time in Beetlejuice.
Alex Brightman and I have been doing different bows every night to keep it fun for everyone. A favorite memory of mine is, on Halloween night, we switched costumes and completely surprised our cast after keeping it a secret for months. Pulling it off and seeing everyone’s reactions was completely amazing and something I’ll never forget!
This moment — the photo was taken by an audience member — in the bows during Into the Woods on Broadway. It expresses everything I feel about this moment: true honor, humility, joy, and beyond gratitude.
Ariana DeBose hosting the 2022 Tony Awards was my favorite performance this year. I’ve known her since she was 16 when she joined our Triple Arts summer intensive in North Carolina. I watched her that night, hosting with such grace, humility, and pure talent. It filled my heart with pride. I got to witness her dreams come true and nothing is better than that.
My favorite Broadway memory from this year is when Kimberly Akimbo moved from the rehearsal space into the Booth Theatre. I didn’t expect to be so moved. I was flooded with memories being in that space, standing on that stage and looking out into the house. It felt like the walls had been steeped in them, like they’d penetrated the curtains like smoke.
Sir [Tom] Stoppard flew in from London to New York City to join us in rehearsals for Leopoldstadt at the New 42 Studios. After quite an emotional run-through of the play, Tom pulled me aside to ask me why the play was so personally resonant to me. I told him that I’d lost my father five years ago, and that I was dedicating my performance to my father’s memory. Tom, the lyrical sweetheart, replied, “I’ll miss your father as well. I’ll miss him sitting next to me and watching the play and telling me how much he loved his son in it.”
I had the honor of singing at the stunning and acoustically amazing Concertgebouw in Amsterdam this past summer. I will never forget how special it felt to sing in this world-famous concert hall. And this always makes me laugh, but it was an equally memorable night for my son, because Daddy let him have chocolate cake for dinner that night.
My brothers from the cast and my sisters from the crew all took a bus to Yankee Stadium for a private tour. They showed us everything and we got to walk the field. The best part of the day for me was the bullpen bathroom. It is a vortex of energy. I could only imagine this being the last stop of some Yankee greats before they stepped on the field and into glory. What a rush!
My most memorable theater moment was opening Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway! Our audience was so excited and loving. The best part was my mom, stepdad, my brother, and his entire family were able to be there that night. It was so incredibly special to share the experience with them, especially since my mom helped me with my self-tape audition during the pandemic!
Randy Graff (Mr. Saturday Night)
Walking through the stage door of the Nederlander for the first time to start tech rehearsal for Mr. Saturday Night. It had been several years since I walked through a Broadway stage door, and that familiar feeling never gets old.
My favorite theater memory from 2022 would be opening night of Almost Famous, watching Joni Mitchell and Cameron Crowe, two artists whose work has spoken profoundly to me my entire life, take their seats. For Joni Mitchell, it was her first Broadway show, and for Cameron, his first Broadway opening. I felt enormous gratitude to witness that moment and to have played a part in making it happen.
I used to believe that theater was everything. All of the facets of my life were connected to it. But over the years, I think I lost a little of who I am by focusing so much on what I was doing. And this year, with the help of medication, therapy, and a lot of reflection, I had a moment of clarity. If I’m going to survive as a creative human being, I need to remember that “human being” part. So I decided to take myself a little more seriously and start to figure out who I am outside of it all. That moment of clarity was the best part of my year.
A.J. Shively (Paradise Square)
Watching from the stage as Joaquina Kalukango stopped the show at Radio City Music Hall during the Tony Awards. Joaquina’s raw performance propelled all 6,000 people in that audience to their feet, just as she did eight shows a week at the Barrymore Theater. I’ve never felt more proud of the work we’d created.
When you combine two weeks, a total of 16 hours of rehearsal, and sprinkle in a few auditions for SIX, you get the most satisfying 41 seconds on live TV. Sharing the stage with Joaquina Kalukango at the Tonys is a standout memory. Watching 6,000 people rush to their feet in applause after our performance was remarkable. As we left the Radio City stage, we passed the cast of SIX, who were on deck to perform. Cheering on the girls and sharing in the mutual excitement, I claimed, mentally, I’d be in SIX and … wow, it happened! Cheers to 2023.
Walking into Radio City for the very first time for the Tony Awards tech rehearsal was a rush and sensation I’ll never forget. It was a remarkable moment to share with the cast of The Music Man, whom I love so dearly. We had come so far, made it through a global pandemic, and now we were standing on the iconic Radio City stage prepping our number for the Tony Awards. It was quite surreal.
Performing in front of Nicole Kidman was truly one of the most memorable moments this year. Even more memorable was when she stood up and donated $100,000 to Broadway Cares. So inspiring and so unbelievably grateful to have witnessed it.
My favorite Broadway memory this year is just looking out into the audience and seeing all the smiling, excited, happy faces. The thing that makes me the happiest is making the audience happy — it’s the reason I do this. I also almost fell over when I saw J. Lo in the audience a couple of weeks ago!
One of my favorite memories this year was way back in March when, during the finale, we all realized that the Jacksons were in the house! None of us knew they were coming, and, quite frankly, it was a blessing we didn’t because I would have been a nervous wreck. As a huge Jacksons fan, it was truly a blessing and honor to get to fellowship with them.
Last updated and effective as of January 14, 2019
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