Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories

Kids’ Night on Broadway takes place in New York City on Tuesday, August 29, 2023.

By: Aug. 25, 2023
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Next week is all about the kids! As BroadwayWorld previously reported, The Broadway League is bringing back Kids’ Night on Broadway, taking place in New York City on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. Kids’ Night on Broadway returns with a special summer edition welcoming kids 18 and under to attend any of the 17 participating Broadway shows for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult. More details here!

Seeing your first show is a memory you will never forget- a fact to which some of Broadway's biggest stars can attest. Below, stars from the participating Kids’ Night on Broadway shows recall their first experiences at the theatre.

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Laura Bell Bundy, The Cottage

The first musical I ever saw was Starlight Express when I was five.  It was my first trip to NYC.  My mom and I were in NYC because I had won a pageant and “The Phil Donahue Show” had invited us to NYC for their show.  We didn’t have tickets in advance.  My mom went to the box office and said, “I need your best and cheapest ticket.”  We sat in the house left box.  I still remember the smell of the metal bar I was leaning against during the entire show.  I was mesmerized and completely hooked after that.  

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Ashley Chiu, Once Upon a One More Time

When I was 7 years old, I saw a community theatre production of "The Sound of Music," and after the show I looked at my mom and said, "I want to do THAT!" She signed me up for a production of "Annie" and there were so many kids in the show that they didn't have a spot for me as an orphan, I was cast as a child servant, and I was so happy. I also started ballet around the same time and whenever I was onstage as a servant I stood in a tight 1st or 5th ballet position. I would go on to perform in many shows and years of ballet recitals. My first competitive ballet solo was Petipa's Sleeping Beauty, I was wearing a pink tutu and a tiara. And now here I am all these years later, making my debut as Sleeping Beauty on Broadway and twirling in my pink tutu and tiara every night. It's a full circle moment.

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Bane Griffith, MJ the Musical

My first memory of seeing a live play/musical was in Houston. It was a play for Talent Tenth Theatre, a non-profit organization, watching my friend Kyra in a play. I remember, I didn’t want to leave the theater that night! I was only 6 yrs. old. Coincidentally, the following year, I was in my first play with Talented Tenth Theatre with the lead role. 

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Zoe Jensen, Six

My first memory of seeing live theater is when the national tour of CATS came to town! I didn’t live near NYC, so getting to see a Broadway level show  in my town was a big deal. It felt like such a special occasion- I’ll never forget seeing everyone dressed up, walking into the beautiful theater and experiencing magic! I still feel those butterflies when I walk into a theater today!

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Jose Llana, Here Lies Love

My first memory of seeing a musical onstage was when I was 10 years old at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. It was a production of Raggedy Ann: The Musical on their out of town try out before Broadway. There was a scene where actors magically came out of a trap door inside or underneath a bed. I was captivated. I left the theater thinking I had to find out how to make that magic for myself.

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Kimberly Marable, Chicago 

Growing up in NYC, I was fortunate to have Broadway right in my backyard. But I didn’t see my first Broadway shows until high school. One of my best friends (and her mom) took us to see Fosse and 42nd Street and I remember looking up from the front rows and being enamored by the choreography. Those performers were DANCING! And with such joy and dynamism. But my most distinct memory from seeing a Broadway show was when my parents took my brother and I to see AIDA. It was the first time I’d seen a Black woman in a leading role on such a huge stage, and I was deeply inspired by Heather Headley’s grace and power. I knew at that moment that I was meant to be on stage and share my gifts with the world. 

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Brandon A. McCall, The Lion King

My first memory of seeing a play was in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama at the Birmingham Children’s Theatre. I remember seeing how much fun the actors were having which made it fun for us in the audience. I would always love when our school would take field trips to see the shows because it was always fun and a unique, interactive way of storytelling. 

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Joel Meyers, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I don’t have a strong memory of my very first time in the theatre, unfortunately, but I do remember seeing my first Broadway show, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, because seeing a story that I already knew and loved come to life onstage completely changed my world.  It was the moment I knew that the theatre and the arts were what I wanted to do with my life, and to now have the opportunity to bring another childhood-favorite story to life on the very same stage each night is an absolute dream come true.

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories

Jake Pedersen, Wicked

I actually saw the tour of Wicked early on and remember that being one of the first moments where I thought to myself “Wow, this is powerful.” The music, the lights, the dancing, all of it working together telling a story that I couldn't stop listening to.

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Erik Christopher Peterson, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The first show I recall seeing was a musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream called “Puck’s Potion” that my dad had directed at the high school he teaches at. I was about five years old and was completely transported into a magical world that I never wanted to leave. I kept going back to see it again and again and even started dressing up as the characters. The theatre bug bit me hard, hasn’t let go- and now I feel incredibly lucky to transport audiences (often filled with dressed up children) into another magical world at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. 

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories

Courtney Reed, Moulin Rouge! The Musical

The very first musical I ever saw was a community theatre production of Snow White. My older sister was in it, and I basically fell in love with theatre from that moment on. I might have even been as young as 3!

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Jelani Remy, Back to the Future

My first memory of a musical onstage was when I went on my 4th grade field trip to Annie Get Your Gun! I remember being so excited coming into the big city and then it was the overwhelming reality of being inside the theater! I remember thinking it looked like a giant palace. As I was taking it the beautiful architecture the lights went out and the show began. I remember being at the edge of my seat paying attention to every detail of art on that stage! It was the beginning of my beginning.

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Don Darryl Rivera, Aladdin

I grew up in Seattle and Seattle Children’s Theatre is the second largest children’s theatre in the country! I saw dozens of shows there and was in many shows as a professional actor. One of my first memories was watching The Reluctant Dragon at SCT when I was in kindergarten! I remember VERY vividly a moment when the dragon got so upset he blew smoke out of his ears! It was very magical. About 20 years later I was working at SCT on The Wizard of Oz and we were on a break during tech rehearsals when we struck up a conversation about past shows. I had mentioned I saw the Reluctant Dragon and I had always wanted to know how the dragon blew smoke out of his ears. The resident puppet master said, “I worked on that show and I was the one who made the smoke!” So we sat there all through break and he explained how it all worked. I felt like a kid again and it was a very full circle moment for me.

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Bri Sudia, A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical

I saw CATS on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in the early 90’s and I was in LOVE with the music, the dancing, the costumes! The show takes place in a junkyard, so when I got home, I put the soundtrack on and begged my mom to let me dump out our kitchen trash to “make the set.”  Obviously… this did not go over super well, but I think she provided lots of crumpled towels and spooky blankets to cover the couch and chairs in the living room and I danced away! 

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Nasia Thomas, Six

My first memory of seeing a musical on Broadway was in 1997 seeing Annie. I remember sitting front row in the audience and waving to the woman who played Miss Hannigan during bows. I will never forget how as the curtain was coming down that same woman bent down and waved back- and continued to do so until the curtain hit the stage. That woman was THE LEGEND, Nell Carter. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I made the connection and I nearly lost my mind, cause she’s a hero of mine, especially as a black woman.  I like to think that was her giving me her blessing to do this same career. She saw a little black girl in the audience, just four years old and decided to give me that gift. Perhaps she passed on a legacy. I will NEVER forget and I will always be grateful. 

Exclusive: Broadway's Best Share First Show Memories Bill Youmans, Wicked

The first play I saw onstage was at an outdoor theatre and I remember it only dimly.  There was someone being locked in a box- it was a comedy.  My first Broadway show was Carnival, and I have really no memory of it.  But it was at the Imperial Theater, where 50 years later, I would play the Boxing coach in Billy Elliot, and also Mr. Bascombe in Carousel. I do remember seeing Oliver! I remember the kids singing Food! but never lacking food in my life, I had no idea what was going on.