JONATHAN GROFF
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'Weighing In' on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Well, after all the food I ate yesterday, I probably shouldn't be "weighing in" on  anything …. but …. 

It is with a heavy heart that I reflect on yesterday's Thanksgiving Day Parade, here in New York … an American tradition, presented by Macy's for 81 years now!  That, in and of itself, is truly amazing.  Let's also not forget that it is Macy's that brings us the greatest Fireworks display in the nation every 4th of July! 

That said, I was moved to tears many times yesterday by this year's broadcast on NBC.  3.5 million New Yorkers packed the streets from the Upper West Side to 34th Street, the legendary store's headquarters, in the heart of Manhattan's Herald Square.  That many people are enough, in number, to populate one of our smaller states!  Add the millions of viewers watching on television (and out their windows, if you live on the route of the parade) and you truly have a National Event! 

The sturdy "hosts" were present – Matt Lauer, Meredith Viera and Al Roker - and the weather couldn't have been more perfect … so … why the "heavy heart?"  Well, in addition to all those fresh-faced marching bands, the spectacular floats and balloons, the pop acts, Wynonna, Dolly, the clowns, etc... I realized that the Parade is also synonymous with Broadway... and, unlike the Tony Awards, where you have to be nominated to get some airtime, no awards or nominations are required to get a spot in the Parade.  The sad part is that if I were Joe Q. Public and I saw something I liked, I couldn't simply say, "Wow! … That looks great! I'm gonna call or go online and get tickets!"  Why, you ask?  Because this Stagehands' Strike is on and I can't "risk it."  Air fare, hotel cancellation fees, etc... "So, I'll wait to MAKE PLANS after I know it's settled."  This is NOT GOOD, folks! 

To get back to the Parade... It's a three-hour "love affair" with New York City and makes everyone watching wish they were there!  It's paced beautifully to get up during commercials and re-fresh your coffee or check on the turkey or get your first Bloody Mary! 

It opened with Camp Broadway, a terrific group of kids, that were introduced by the "announcer" as CAST BROADWAY  … Oh, well, Matt took care of that when they were finished.   

My first real sadness began with Legally Blonde – no costumes (thank you, STRIKE!), wearing show shirts, etc., but they were great … and what you read on their faces was the sheer JOY of performing together, which they have NOT been doing for the last two weeks!  Get my point? 

Other notables:  Jane Krakowski (also out of work right now because of the WGA strike!), Young Frankenstein (WITH costumes – they are NOT affected by the strike!). 

It was at this point that Matt Lauer explained to the viewers that the Strike is on and Meredith pleaded "Let's get the lights back on... FULL BLAST!" Rock on, Meredith!!! 

Xanadu gave a great showing, with Cheyenne Jackson playing the camera to perfection... God, is he good.  For everyone who might just think he's a "looker"... he's the REAL DEAL! 

The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular (75 years old!) gave us the indomitable Rockettes, in cute Ribbon Candy costumes.  When I saw Barbie: The Island Princess, I thought, OMG, how far off can this be as a musical?  I know … I can't believe I thought that either! 

BUT my heart BROKE when I saw and heard Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff do a VERY fresh arrangement of "Give My Regards to Broadway" and they looked at each other, smiling sincerely, during the words, "… And tell them I will soon be there!" Well, what else is there to say?  I lost it!  And THEN … I started to get REALLY MAD! …. About the STRIKE! 

The balloons are always great and MUCH MORE "roped in" than in the past, due to earlier year incidents.  But if the kids' reaction was ANY indication … Shrek was the new FAVORITE and bodes well for the upcoming musical, especially if it's good! 

Hairspray had Nikki Blonsky aboard with the fresh faced dancers to promote the release of the new (packed with extras) DVD of the hit film.

Then... Sarah Brightman showed up... a pirate... a chicken?  I don't know … but surely the morning's worst lip-syncing.  Sorry Sarah. I love you, but... And the song?  "The Journey Home" from Bombay Dreams!  What to say? 

Ashley Tisdale (a former Little Cosette in Les Miserables) and Corbin Bleu, both from High School Musical... BOTH fresh and up to the task. 

Michael Feinstein and Anika Noni Rose sang together, Wynonna – who was just FANTASTIC, with a GREAT arrangement of her song and, of course, SANTA CLAUS! 

I was exhausted by the end and want the STRIKE over …. But THANK YOU MACY'S for my BROADWAY "FIX!"

Photos by Eugene Lovendusky and Retna Ltd.


Shrek Balloon


Al Roker


Mayor Michael Bloomberg


Ashley Tisdale


Ashley Tisdale


Corbin Bleu


Corbin Bleu


Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele


Nikki Blonsky


Nikki Blonsky


Nikki Blonsky and Hairspray movie-cast members


The Pillsbury Dough Boy


Sarah Brightman


Barbie and Prince


Dolly Parton


Dolly Parton


Michael Feinstein


Anika Noni Rose


Michael Feinstein and Anika Noni Rose


Wynonna Judd


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