Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day

Happy World Theatre Day from BroadwayWorld!

By: Mar. 27, 2021
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March 27 marks World Theatre Day! Although we can't be together to celebrate, we can still reminisce on the importance of theatre in our lives.

Stars from Broadway and West End are sharing their favorite theater memories and throwback photos from childhood, to debuts, to tours, and more!

World Theatre Day was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).

Christine Allado

Hamilton (West End), The Prince of Egypt (West End)

I have loved every single show I've done 100%. I count myself exceedingly lucky to be part of this industry and to have had some wonderful experiences. My absolute favorite was probably In The Heights because it was my first West End lead and it felt so special to be part of such a beautiful show. Of course Prince of Egypt is glorious and what an astonishing company to be a part of, telling such a powerful story with incredible songs. And most definitely I had so many fun memories from Hamilton because it was just such an amazing company and phenomenon to be a part of.

But one of my favorite moments was the night we had in attendance Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They were absolutely lovely and gracious on stage but after we took our bows we were all kind of smooshed together in the wings. And I so happened to be sandwiched between Prince Harry and Lin in an upstage corner in pretty dim lighting. It was quite silent and awkward and and, feeling extra awkward, I felt like I had to break the ice. So I look up at Prince Harry while sardined next to them both and asked, "So have you had any theatre experience or anything?" And he thought for a bit and said that yes he had, back when he was young and in school, he had been in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, apparently playing a dwarf. I asked him which one and he said "Sleepy", naturally.
At which point, we all kind of giggled quietly about it before the lights came up.

Jacqueline B. Arnold

Moulin Rouge! (Broadway), Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Broadway), Rent (National Tour), Hairspray (National Tour)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Jacqueline with Marc Shaiman (left) and the cast of Hairspray (right).

I did the 1st National Tour of Hairspray, it was my 3rd professional show. I had always heard people refer to theatre as a community as a family, and Hairspray was that for me. I gained so many lifelong friends that are truly family and part of my inner circle and daily life. I have been lucky enough to work with many of them again, most recently, Aaron Tveit in Moulin Rouge!

Roger Bart

The Producers (Broadway), You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Broadway), Back to the Future (West End)

Of course, it's always so challenging to choose which memory to share when given this fun opportunity. I recently celebrated my 35th year as a member of Actors Equity and, ow, there goes my back again! Contained within those years are a multitude of flubbed lines, accidental stumbles, humiliating voice cracks, corpsing on stage, and other amusing mishaps. These are all aspects of puttin' on a play, and I love them so.

But I think that, in retrospect, some of the moments I cherish most were the times I stood on a Broadway stage for an audition (à la Tootsie) - a pretty rare occurrence in today's world. There were three that I can recall: Broadway Bound or Biloxi Blues for [the director] Gene Saks, Into The Woods for James Lapine, and The Chosen for Carmen Capalbo at an Off-Bway theatre (now multiplex cinema) on 2nd Avenue. I will never forget that incredible feeling of being escorted by the casting director to center stage to stand near the ghost light and hear my name announced. Yes, yes, OK ... I didn't get any of the jobs but man oh man, I sure felt like I had arrived.

One of the most vivid and powerful memories I have is the night I arrived at the St James Theatre just a few days after 9/11/2001 to do the Thursday evening performance of The Producers. With the world still reeling in pain and in complete shock, I recall the discomfort I felt in anticipation of having to perform the show that night. Despite being cognizant of our primary mission - to get back on our feet and show the world that we are New York City tough - I still felt a slight sense of shame at doing a role that seemed so silly and frivolous in this new context.

But when I arrived at the theatre, there was a line of people all the way down 44th Street past Sardi's. I had anticipated maybe half a house and was completely shocked to find instead that we were full. The performance went on and, despite the wounds we collectively shared, people laughed. We sang a full-throated, impromptu "God Bless America" with the audience at the curtain call, and that was the moment I will never forget. We needed humor and to come together and lift our spirits even in the worst of times. I am privileged to have been there that night and to do what I love to do with so many incredibly talented people for the amazing folks who love live theatre.

Luke Bayer

Everybody's Talking About Jamie (West End)

Growing up, I'll never forget seeing Les Mis, the 10th Anniversary Concert on video for the first time. I remember being absolutely floored by everything about it: the cast, the singing, the story. And I just bloomin' love Ruthie Henshall!

Professionally, I will never forget my time at Everybody's Talking About Jamie, which was such a special and important show. To see how it touched so many people and kind of allowed them to be free and live their life unapologetically really touched me. I will always be so grateful to have been a part of that production and to have been able to meet all the amazing people I did. That was such a special time!

Tracie Bennett

She Loves Me (West End), Follies (National Theatre), Hangmen (Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Tracie as Mary in Merrily We Roll Along in Manchester (1984).

When I was first starting off, I appeared in 1984 at Manchester's Library Theatre in Merrily We Roll Along, which was my first Sondheim show and also my first work with a repertory company. I was playing Mary, when I started getting a bit weird onstage near the end of the run and had to go to the doctor where I was told that I had the measles and would have to sit in a dark room. So here I am in a musical playing the lead girl and I was told, "you can't take time off; you've got to go on," and I was worried but I did it. What I discovered was that I was made to go on, really: that show was an amazing time for all of us, we were learning as we were doing.

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Tracie's Broadway debut as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow.

So of course cut to years and years later and I'm now making my Broadway debut in End of the Rainbow, playing Judy Garland. We'd been to Minnesota where Judy is from, so no pressure there, and it was like minus 40 degrees, and then we arrived on Broadway in time for Tony season, which is six weeks of getting up at 6 am and lunches and interviews and press conferences. All of that sounds glamorous but then it's 5 in the afternoon and you've got to get ready once more to play an addict in the dark but funny play that End of the Rainbow was. Here I am saying I'm never ill, but of course this is decades after Merrily, and what happened was that we got to a five show weekend and I came down with some kind of major flu and to this day I don't know how I got through several of those performances; I honestly don't remember them. But I did it and remember thinking that I learned a lot from that experience: I saw that I didn't have to try too hard or be over the top and that maybe I had a better response [to the part] when I was ill in real life. It's funny in the theater what you can learn along the way.

Last March I was back in New York and was one week away of opening in Martin McDonagh's Hangmen when Broadway shut down. I don't know what the future holds, which can be kind of exciting in a way, but the hope is that theater reopening is just around the corner. Let's see, and good luck to all.

DeMarius R. Copes

Mean Girls (Broadway), Hamilton (National Tour), Newsies (National Tour)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
"When I'm performing in a show, it's the most important thing about that day for me. Every single time."

This photo is from Ragtime the Musical directed by Roy Hudson at the Virginia Samford Theatre in Birmingham, AL. 2010.

Hiba Elchikhe

Everybody's Talking About Jamie (West End)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
This is when we took the pictures for the front of the theatre at Jamie. This picture was soo special because I was born and raised in London, so having my picture at the front of a London West End theatre meant the world to me.
Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
This is the last day of rehearsals for Jamie. The second picture I felt proud and excited and nervous that the next time I would run the show would be our first preview for Jamie.
Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
This is when Elaine Paige and Jess Rickson invited me to sing live at the BBC for Elaine Paige. This was a dream come true for me! She is an icon and saw something in me that she wanted to nurture! And to this day, Jess Rickson and Elaine Paige have always supported anything I have been a part of and played it on the radio show.
Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
This final picture is in rehearsals for Antony and Cleopatra. The final picture sums up theatre for me! We are an ensemble, a company of actors, directors, choreographers, stage management, hair and make-up! It truly takes an army to put a show together and I am soo proud to be a part of this industry.

Ali Ewoldt

Les Miserables (Broadway), The Phantom of the Opera (Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Ali in the Les Miserables revival cast as Cosette with
Adam Jacobs as Marius and Lea Salonga as Fantine.

I was very fortunate to make my Broadway debut in 2006 as Cosette in the first Les Miserables revival. I was absolutely obsessed with the show as a child (there is video evidence of this...) and seeing Lea Salonga, who was born and raised in The Philippines, play Eponine on Broadway was one of the main reasons that I believed that I, a Filipino-American, might have a chance at a career in musical theater someday. So playing Cosette opposite my fellow Filipino-American Adam Jacobs as Marius with Lea as Fantine in a company of extraordinarily talented and accomplished actors, telling a story that felt both specific and universal, entertaining and powerful and deeply moving, was beyond my wildest dreams.

Cailen Fu

Mean Girls (Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Cailen going on as Regina George in Mean Girls on Broadway.

Theater has taught me a lot about myself and more recently, how to let go of the outcome. As a standby in the Broadway company of Mean Girls, I didn't always know when my next performance was or if that "hey you're on tonight" text two hours before curtain would end up being my last. Letting go of the outcome to me means letting go of the crazy pressure you put on yourself for every performance to be "perfect". You can't strive or even achieve perfection as an actor and more importantly, as a human. My experience in theater, and in Mean Girls, has taught me that it is 100% okay to make mistakes and embrace all the imperfections that make you uniquely you!

Jared Goldsmith

Dear Evan Hansen (National Tour, Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Jared in Seussical (2005) and Drowsy Chaperone in college (2017).

World Theatre Day really makes me miss theatre this year. I think what I miss most is the camaraderie that is formed at any theatre-- even if it's community, high school, college, regional, touring or Broadway. I miss the backstage culture that's formed throughout a company-the pranks, the tears, the meals in between shows. It's the glue that bonds the entire company together so we can tell one coherent story.

Ashleigh Gray

Wicked (West End)

I have many wonderful theatrical memories both on and off the stage. Probably one of the best nights I've ever spent in a theatre as an audience member was at the final night of Billy Elliot, The Musical in the West End. I had never seen the show before but my friend Kerry was in the cast and invited me along to see the last show. It was absolutely incredible. The place was electric and the company pulled off a mesmerizing "tag-team"-style performance, rotating the four young lads that were playing Billy at the time.

I always love seeing young performers on stage, living their dreams and having the time of their lives and these four boys were doing just that. Being from a small mining village myself, when the real life colliery band appeared from the back of the stalls and processed onto the stage, I was in bits; it was an evening I'll never forget!

Devon Hadsell

Mean Girls (Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
"Only with that comradery can theater be brought to life and become the magical adventure that it is."

There is nothing like performing live. Whether its community theater, Broadway, or a school production, the immediacy and energy that comes with having a live audience is unparalleled to any other medium. I'll never forget Casey Nicholaw ushering all of the Broadway debut's onto the stage before our very first preview of Mean Girls and the crowd erupting into cheers of excitement and support. There were twelve of us. In theater, it is essential to have that sense of community and partnership from the crew, to the performers, to the audience, and everyone else in between. Only with that comradery can theater be brought to life and become the magical adventure that it is.

Oli Higginson

The Last Five Years (Southwark Playhouse)

Thinking back, almost all of my fondest memories have been in a theatre. I remember my mum sneaking me out of school to take me to midweek matinees of West End shows: I think Phantom was the first, when I was about 6 and I was enraptured. Then doing school productions of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream offered exactly the kind of escapism my teenage self needed. I met my first 'proper' girlfriend in a student production of Spring Awakening at university in Bristol: she was directing and I was playing Melchior. I then met the love of my life - and now wife - on a short course at RADA one summer. A friend of ours, the wonderful Shakespearean actor David Weston, read Sonnet 104 at our wedding.

There have been so many shows that have moved me. I saw Cheek by Jowl's 'Tis Pity She's A Whore at the Barbican on my own 3 or 4 times: I was obsessed. That was a huge motivator for me in choosing to train at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama [which is part of the Barbican]. I was like, "I want to work on THAT stage, I want a piece of THAT" - as if their work would rub off on me some way if I spent enough time in the Barbican building.

I remember seeing a midnight matinee of Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare's Globe. I was sitting right at the very top so I could see people falling over like dominos in the yard as the night went on and the play got gorier! I also remember watching Yerma at the Young Vic and being sat next to Benedict Cumberbatch (we weren't together). Billie Piper gave the most hauntingly visceral performance I'd ever seen. Nor can I forget Guys and Dolls at the Savoy a few years back and the sheer joy and precision of the artistry; it was as if we were drunk on giddy laughter. You dream of real life being that full of unalloyed joy. I can't wait to get back to the theatre.

Lucie Jones

Waitress (West End), Rent (West End)

The first thing I ever saw in the West End was We Will Rock You. I just remember going into the Dominion Theatre and my dad and my brother and I are walking down to the front by the stage and I'm saying to my dad and my brother, "I'm going to work in here one day," and my brother said "yes, sweeping the stage after the show!".

So when we then did A Christmas Carol at the Dominion late last year, I sent him a text saying "haha, I told you I'd do it one day!" So We Will Rock You holds quite a special place for me because of that and also because I got to do that show on the road a number of years ago.

The show that always sticks out for me, as a kid, that I loved and that I saw every time I could was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I just loved it and would love to play the Narrator one day. I don't even know what I would have done without theatre growing up. I went to see everything I possibly could, loved it. It's kind of moulded what I do now and the way that I think and see things and act. I'm also very grateful for having parents that really supported my obsession with theatre.

Alexia Khadime

The Prince of Egypt (West End), Les Miserables (West End), The Book of Mormon (West End)

There are so many moments that it's impossible to narrow it down to one. Some special ones were when I got into The Lion King, which was my West End debut and a dream fulfilled. I had seen the show when it first came to the West End and had said to my mum that one day I want to be in this. And being in The Lion King I gained family. I remember in between shows at during my final week the cast held a surprise party and I was so surprised and in floods of tears, just as on my first night at Wicked, which was my birthday, they all came and supported me. There were gatherings where we would all bring a dish to share and eat together in between shows: it was like a buffet, with dishes from all over the world from Asia to Africa, Europe to the Caribbean. It was the best. Plus, we had little doggy bags to save for later.

Also by being part of the original companies of The Book Of Mormon and The Prince of Egypt, special bonds form. Those are super special moments for me and ones that I will never forget!

Molly Lynch

The Last Five Years (Southwark Playhouse), The Light in the Piazza (London and Chicago)

This is pretty soppy but, for me, my favourite memories are the ones that all my friends embody. My friend Nadia in a fairy godmother costume, on my first professional job, is still there when I cuddle her gorgeous baby girl seven years later as we sit and chat. As I watch my friends Danny and Adam become incredible dads, they are still there, hiding backstage in the quick change area to scare the life out of me during "As If We Never Said Goodbye" [from Sunset Boulevard]. My friend Michaela and I laughing until we cry and then trying to sing with tears streaming down our face on our first job in London together: that bond is still there when we call each other on day 23,084 of lockdown asking each other how the hell we are going to get through this? And hanging up the laundry with my boyfriend Colin, we are still singing in a pantomime together in Dublin at an 11am school show.

The best thing about memories in theatre is that you get to keep them with you everyday. A director said to me once that I had a problem letting go of a show or a piece when it was over and that the beauty of theatre is that it ends. But I think the beauty of theater is that it never does.

John McGinty

Children of a Lesser God (Broadway), King Lear (Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
McGinty with Lesli Margherita in
HUNCHBACK at Music Circus.

I saw a call for an upcoming production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in California. They already had the production up and running under Disney Theatrical Productions, and they had already had a live production of it in the past. The director, Glenn Casale, of the show was someone I met during a workshop that I had been involved in and I thought, "You know what? I think I can do this show."

I went ahead and emailed the director. "Have you ever thought about having a Deaf actor play that role?" As a side note, the main character of Quasimodo in Victor Hugo's original work is a Deaf character. It is not often portrayed that way. I brainstormed some ideas on how it could work. It is important for everyone out there to be solution-oriented - if you see a problem, offer solutions. You can really open people's minds.

The director responded: "Okay. Well, come audition. Why not? Let's see."

I went in on my own.

I got a callback.

I got the role.

I was the first Deaf actor to play Quasimodo in a musical. Since that happened, two or three other Deaf people have now played that role in regional productions. That is a huge win, and I am proud that my work helped pave the way for other Deaf actors to pursue the roles they want. I was fortunate enough to work with many wonderful people in the production who I still consider them as my family.

Wendi Peters

White Christmas (West End), Big (West End)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
"Dorothy Mavis was a dream role."

After nearly 35 years in the theatre, I have too many wonderful moments to mention, so I'm going to pick out two. One is my favourite role and company, and the other for sentimental reasons.

Hatched 'n' Dispatched at the Park Theatre in 2015 has to be my favourite play and company, Dorothy Mavis was a dream role. I love intimate theatre, and a small company of 8, all sharing a tiny dressing room, was a joy from start to finish. I've never laughed so much and we still all meet up regularly. I'm so looking forward to, not just being back in a theatre, but at the wonderful Southwark Playhouse, one of my favourite venues, with a small company of 4, playing Diana in 'You Are Here' from May 17th.

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
"I was so excited to be out of college and on the road, doing what I loved."

My 1st big musical UK tour was 'Hello Dolly' with Dora Bryan in 1988. I was so excited to be out of college and on the road, doing what I loved. It was also the moment I met my husband of 27 years, Kenny, in that company. Wonderful memories, and 35 years of lovely, personal, ones. The best, by far, being our beautiful daughter, Gracie.

Fergie L. Philippe

Hamilton (National Tour, Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Fergie in his college's production of Cats.

One of my favorite experiences performing was in college when I got to play Old Deuteronomy in Cats. I've been talking about this so much recently because I think Cats, for a performer, is the ultimate playground. I have never had more fun nor did I ever come up with as many creative choices than when I did that show. Also, conceptually, what me and the costume designer created together, I thought, was pretty sick. Old Deut had seen and been through some things in our version!

Dianne Pilkington

Wicked (West End), Young Frankenstein (West End), Mamma Mia! (West End)

Something short and sweet: As a kid I was terribly shy and went to drama group as a way to build confidence. Little did I know that I would find my home there; I owe everything to theatre.

Hayley Podschun

Hairspray (National Tour, Broadway), Something Rotten! (Broadway), Hello, Dolly! (Broadway), Wicked (National Tour)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
One of my favorite theatre memories is being involved in Hairspray the Musical for three years. I was so lucky to do the National Tour, the movie, then the Broadway company. The show itself is such a joy but it was all the people along the way that made it what it was. We are all still so close and really are a family. "Hairspray wow!"

Shane Richie

Grease (West End), Everybody's Talking About Jamie (West End)

"This is your Act One beginners call": Even typing these words conjures up mixed emotions, those seven simple words echoing through the dusty rafters whilst gathering momentum up concrete stairs, down corridors on several floors of stage crew, musicians, actors, and anyone else who happens to be within earshot. That booming announcement by the stage manager over the years has triggered in me a last dash for the toilet, fight or flight syndrome, anxiety attacks, the quick suck of a Vocalzone pastille, another dash to the toilet and a change of underwear -- all before making your way to the stage before the curtain rises .

I've been fortunate to hear this warlike call to arms over the Tannoy hundreds if not thousands of times, from small self-funded repertory theatres through to council-run civic halls that double up as a theatre (don't get me started!) and on to beautiful chocolate box theatres designed by Frank Matcham and then to the vast 3000+ theatrical auditoriums, each in its own imitable way delivering smoke & mirrors to every beautiful punter who enters and, more importantly, pays our wages.

Every theatre has its very own identity, but the one thing that doesn't change is that announcement letting you know we're good to go. Once you hear those words nothing else matters. And only in a theatre dressing room will you get that buzz of excitement: sitting in dressing rooms or a trailer on a TV set is not the same. There is no safety net with live theatre, you get one shot on that night to get it right.

For the first time in my 40-year career, my two worlds, TV and theatre, have come together. Playing Scaramouche Jones just now in a theatrical setting but with my TV head on has been a surprising and joyful experience which I could quite easily get used to. Performing this part for the cameras has given me the luxury to say, "Sorry can I try that again." But here's the thing, I still insisted on getting the production assistant to knock on my door and say those immortal lines: "This is your Act One beginners call."

Chita Rivera

Three-Time Tony Winner

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Chita with Judi Dench and Finty Williams at Cadogan Hall
in London after Chita's show (2019).

When I was doing the original West Side Story in London (following the Broadway premiere of course), we used to do a dance warm-up and barre during our rehearsals with Jerome Robbins. One day, Judi Dench came to our rehearsal to take this class. I believe she was performing in Twelfth Night at the Old Vic at the time.

Fast forward to 2019. I was in London performing my solo concerts at Cadogan Hall. Both shows were sold out...standing ovations. I had no idea Judi Dench and her daughter Finty Williams were in the audience.

Of course they came backstage to see me. Judi entered the room, looked at me and then threw her handbag at me. It landed on the floor. No words needed to be said. She and I had a great big laugh.

In my circle, a great compliment is to throw something at someone if they loved it.

A true full-circle moment and such a wonderful memory.

Ellenore Scott

Associate choreographer on Broadway for Cats, Falsettos, Head Over Heels, King Kong

One of the most inspiring memories I have was for Falsettos revival on Broadway. Stephanie J. Block was playing Trina at the time and got really sick. Her understudy, Courtney Balan, must have gotten the same cold because she was supposed to debut in the role and had to call in sick. Trina's 2nd cover, Stephanie Jean Umoh, went on that night and literally was the definition of "the show must go on." We had never rehearsed her and she went on with a script in hand and it was truly one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed.

Kristin Stokes

The Lightning Thief (Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Kristin in Junie B. Jones off-Broadway (as Junie B herself!) and two pictures from Gypsy at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.

I did a lot of theater as a kid, but my first equity show was "Gypsy" at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. I was just barely 14 and understudied young Louise (who was played by my sister...) and was a Toreadorable, the Balloon Girl, and Ensemble. All the women Ensemble/Toreadorables were also in the final big burlesque number at the end- so naturally the costume designer made a "Garden of Eden" stripper outfit for all of the women- including me. It took all of 2 seconds into my first costume fitting for them to realize that I could not be in that costume- let alone in that number! But when the director tactfully broke the news to me, I didn't quite understand and thought it was because I was such a newbie that I was being cut. So I enthusiastically came back at him with the same "can do" attitude that I have to this day, promising him that I would "work hard and that he shouldn't worry because I could do the number." I literally had no idea that it actually was because I looked 12 and on top of that, it would have been totally illegal! Thankfully the director did not take me up on my "put me in coach" offer.

Liam Tamne

The Prince of Egypt (West End), The Phantom of the Opera (West End)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Tamne as part of the Broadway transfer cast
of Hair, at the Gielgud Theatre, London.

An early production of Oklahoma on VHS starring Hugh Jackman, Peter Polycarpou and many others is very poignant in terms of me thinking that musical theatre was a career for me. Also seeing Gary Wilmot starring in Copacabana: I had never seen many people that looked like me, being mixed-race of African, Indian and Irish heritage. Their skin tone and complexion looked like me and that was a huge turning point for me to dream big and to think of starting my journey to success in this industry.

A highlight early on in my career was being a part of the Broadway transfer cast of Hair, at the Gielgud Theatre, London. I had to get naked on stage which was a first for me, and it was scary but actually very liberating in a strange way. That show does something to you. I've never been a part of a show or company that has made me grow, inspire, dream, achieve and fulfill what it truly means to be a part of a company or, in the language of Hair, a tribe. Lifelong friends are rare, but I gained a company's worth with that show.

Giles Terera

Olivier Award-winner for Hamilton (West End)

The first show I saw when I came to London to train was Five Guys Named Moe. It blew me away: here was a cast that looked like me, along with incredible dancing, amazing singing, killer suits.

Then there was a kabuki production I saw at the Kabuki-za in Ginza, Tokyo in 2000 when I was on tour with the RSC. It had no surtitles, which I was glad of, and I stayed all afternoon to watch three of the five episodes. As with most Kabuki it was a fantastical story of adventure. There was one moment where the heroine of the story transformed in a split second from a lowly peasant girl into an amazing warrior right in front of our eyes. The audience burst into applause and so did I.

I'm always trying to create that kind of moment for an audience.

Oliver Tompsett

& Juliet (West End), Wicked (West End)

As a teenager before I went to Arts Educational [drama school], I was in a production of Me and My Girl and that one has a very soft spot in my heart; I'd love to have done it as a professional as well. And then sort of bookending it all, I'd have to say & Juliet, just because it's such an amazing show to be part of.

Adrienne Walker

The Lion King (Broadway), Kiss Me, Kate (Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Adrienne in a regional production of The Color Purple during the Push Da Button number. Trisha Jeffrey is featured as Celie.

My most memorable theatre moment was getting the opportunity to perform Shug Avery in a regional production of The Color Purple. I'll never forget the look on my family's face when I sang "Push da Button"! Unfortunately, Mercury Theatre, the theatre that produced that production, was unable to keep their doors open because of the pandemic. I am so grateful to Walter and Eugene for giving me a shot at principal role in the Chicago theatre community!

Nik Walker

Hamilton (National Tour, Broadway), Ain't Too Proud (Broadway), Motown: The Musical (National Tour, Broadway)

Broadway and West End Stars Share Their Theatre Memories in Celebration of World Theatre Day
Nik as Booth in Topdog/Underdog.

The first time I knew what theater truly meant to me was playing Booth in Topdog/Underdog, my sophomore year of NYU. I'd done plenty of plays before this, and I'd do plenty after, but THIS play... THIS script...

Even now I come back to it whenever I need inspiration. What it meant to get to play a character that looked like me, spoke in pure poetry, with an intellect for days, locked in a cage match of complexity and heart. SLP is a genius, this piece is a gift, and even in the crappy, smelly black box we performed in, that run taught me what was possible, and I never looked back.

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