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Student Blog: Best Theater Memories In 2021

Looking Back at Some the Great Theater Events of 2021

Student Blog: Best Theater Memories In 2021

It's that time of year again. 2021 is coming to a close and soon we will all be ringing in the new year. As a form of goodbye to this year, I am looking back at all the fun moments I've had that are related to theater and are now fond memories. I've seen so many shows with friends and family members, I've been to concerts with friends and I even met some actors. Here are my top five memories.

1. Waitress reopening night

September 2nd was the date. The first two musicals (Waitress and Hadestown) were reopening for the first time since Broadway shutdown. I was seeing Waitress which I had seen only twice before. It was so exciting that it was returning to Broadway with Sara Bareilles and I was happy to finally see her in the role for the first time. I looked forward to this day for a long time and planned to go dressed as my favorite character Dawn. When I arrived at the theater that evening, I found some friends (they were going to see Hadestown) and they complimented my waitress outfit. Many people around me also liked my outfit and I was even showcased on the Waitress social media pages and I was interviewed for a Japanese news source. A day later, I found my photo in the New York Times next to an article about Broadway's return which was so exciting. It was so great stepping into that theater and smelling pie in the lobby again and getting to eat the mini pie after the show. During the performance, the audience was so loud and there were so many standing ovations: at every characters' entrance, at funny lines, at iconic moments (when an LGBTQ+ USA flag was shown, when the pie name honoring Nick Cordero was said...) and at the popular songs. The best part of the night was Nick Cordero's tribute with the pie name, his wife Amanda Kloots saying a few words after bows and the whole cast and the audience singing his song "Live Your Life" together. I will never forget being in that theater for that special performance and I'm very grateful to have seen the return of Broadway in New York City.

Student Blog: Best Theater Memories In 2021

2. Meeting Jonathan Groff at a restaurant

On September 21, I saw Six for the second time (first time post shutdown). After school, I came home and changed into my Six shirt and then my mom and I headed to Times Square. Before the show, we went to get dinner at the Italian restaurant Nizza on 9th Avenue. Once inside the restaurant, we were taken to a table in the back near the bathroom (which I thought was annoying) until I turned to my left and saw who was sitting at the table next to ours... I was in such a shock seeing Jonathan Groff's face! He was eating dinner and talking to a friend, so I didn't disturb him then, but I knew I couldn't let him leave without saying something to him. He is one of my favorite theater actors that I've loved since I saw him for the first time on Glee. Once his dinner was done and he stood up to leave, me and my mom went over to him and she told him that we're big fans. He was very sweet to us and thanked us for complimenting him. When I got a photo with him, he saw my shirt and told me to have a great time seeing Six. Then, after he left, I was so excited about what just happened that I couldn't finish my meal. The whole time leading up to the start of the show and after the show, I could only talk about Jonathan Groff and how random it was that I met him at a restaurant. It was so great to finally be able to check someone off my list of my favorite theater actors I'd like to meet. Even now, I still cherish that moment and talk about it constantly. Jonathan Groff is my favorite celebrity I met this year.

Student Blog: Best Theater Memories In 2021

3. Dear Evan Hansen reopening night

If anyone were to ask me what my favorite musical is, I'd say Dear Evan Hansen. That fact is very obvious as I've seen the show eight times now (seven on Broadway and once on the West End). The most special and memorable time seeing it this year was on reopening night on December 11. It was 7:00 pm as I left work and I ran a few blocks to get to the Music Box theater for the show that was starting at 7:30 pm. Once inside, I met up with a few friends and we talked for a while before the show started. I was even able to talk to and get a photo with director Michael Greif which is an amazing thing. Before the show started, it was an amazing moment to see producer Stacey Minditch and Michael Greif give a speech on stage followed by New York Senator Chuck Schumer who was wearing the famous blue striped polo.

When the show was going on, the audience was so loud with so much clapping, standing ovations and laughter: at the top of the show, at every actor's first entrance, during and after iconic songs ("Waving Through a Window," Sincerely, Me," "You Will Be Found"), at the end of the show and during bows. My seat was in the mezzanine but during intermission, I upgraded to a front row seat that was empty next to one of my friends which was such a great view. It was so electric and emotional being back in my favorite theater and seeing a show that means so much to me. The moment I won't ever forget is during the speech after bows, people rose from the audience to sing "You Will Be Found." It took me a few seconds to realize that they were the Northwell Health Nurse Choir and that made the performance all the more special.

When the audience was let out of the theater, we were all given blue show branded hats and there was a small block party which I was excited to be a part of. I waited outside around the stage door for a while to see the actors come out and it was so sweet seeing previous Dear Evan Hansen actors congratulating the current actors with huge hugs, loud cheers and big compliments (Andrew Barth Feldman was shouting compliments at Jordan Fisher). I even got to meet Andrew again (he's my favorite Evan). When the night was over, my heart was so full from having seen my favorite show again and getting to experience it with my theater friends.

Student Blog: Best Theater Memories In 2021

4. Going back to 54 Below for concerts

Every Broadway fan knows that Feinstein's/ 54 Below is the destination for dinner concerts with theater actors. I had only been there once before and have gone back more times this year when live events came back to New York this summer.

My first time back was in June for Andrew Barth Feldman's Park Map show about the Disney Parks. That was such a fun concert to go to as I'm also a huge fan of Disney and the Disney parks like him so I loved every Disney song he sang, every memory he talked about and the imitations he did.

I returned to see it again in July and I had just as much fun as I did the first time. I went back to 54 Below another time to see Antonio Cipriano's one man show in which he sang a bunch of pop and musical theater songs which was another great evening. It was so nice going to all these shows with friends and meeting other friends there. 54 Below is such a great venue to see shows and has a good menu as well. I loved the evenings I spent there this year and I can't wait to go back more times next year as I've already got tickets for a few upcoming shows.

Student Blog: Best Theater Memories In 2021

5. Going to my first Broadway Flea Market

Growing up, I've always been a fan of Broadway, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I really dove into the industry by getting into more shows (with cast albums and pro-shots), seeing many more shows, learning about and loving many different actors and doing some theater things (going to live events, buying merch...). I had heard about the Broadway Flea Market, but I didn't really know what it was until this year when I went to it for the first time.

I followed the map of the locations of the booths that was posted online and I had so much fun going to every booth with some friends. I was amazed at all the interesting theater items that were being sold. I couldn't believe some of the playbills I found, like the original West Side Story and the Lobby Hero playbill signed by my favorite actor Chris Evans that I bought.

I was impressed by some of the crafts I saw like the flowers made out of playbills (which I got the Mean Girls version of). The best item I got was the arm cast from Dear Evan Hansen that was worn by Andrew Barth Feldman and signed by Alex Boniello (my two favorite DEH actors). Despite how crowded it was and how hard it was to find specific playbills amidst the buckets of playbills, it was so fun being there and great to support BCEFA. That's a day me and my friends will never forget and I can't wait to go back next year.

I am so grateful to live in New York City and to get to experience all these great theater events. 2021 did start off pretty bad, but it turned around for the better and it's a year I'll always remember.

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From This Author - Student Blogger: Elisa Kluger