Student Blog: Giving Thanks for Broadway

Thanksgiving Day parades bring balloons, bands, and Broadway to TVs across the country

Student Blog: Giving Thanks for Broadway

Ah, Thanksgiving. The time of year for turkey, family time, eating till you feel like you might burst, and of course, the famous Thanksgiving Day parades across the country. 

I’ve grown up watching two parades: the 6ABC parade in Philadelphia and, of course, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Famous for their high-flying balloons, jaw-dropping floats, and massive marching bands, there’s another aspect of these parades that, although not quite as famous, has had me glued to the TV screen every year since I can remember: the Broadway performances. 

For shows I’ve seen, it’s a refresher course on why I loved them so much. For shows I haven’t, it’s a good sneak preview to see if we want to make the leap and buy tickets. And for me, a theater kid, it’s a source of entertainment for me to see people’s reactions to shows they probably wouldn’t know existed otherwise. 

Take Shucked as an example—my parents and I went to see it in June, and I loved it. It’s truly one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, and I’m sad to see it’s leaving Broadway and will be doing my best to catch it when it goes on tour next year. However, ever since the cast’s performance during the Macy’s parade last week, my TikTok for you page has been filled with people confused beyond belief as to why a song about corn was taking up three minutes on their TV screen. I saw one post saying the song’s corn-centered choreography was bordering on inappropriate, and another questioning why such a song existed.

I think this is the beauty of parade performances. I’ve seen plenty of Instagram posts the past few days of cast members raving about how fun the experience is: full of delirium, early mornings, and the absolute chaos of taking photos with friends in mismatched costumes from completely different shows. But these performances take Broadway shows from their objectively small stages in Times Square to one of the biggest stages of them all, being broadcast to millions of people across the country. It’s the level of exposure that Broadway performers deserve: the energy they bring to each and every performance, even one with a 5am wakeup call that often occurs in freezing temperatures, is something that should be admired and deserves to be seen by people throughout America. 

The Shucked performance particularly resonated with me this year. Maybe it’s because I loved the show so much when I saw it, or maybe it’s because I see clips of the cast and how much fun they have performing. I saw a TikTok the day before the parade of the cast rehearsing on the parade stage, and they had a bit of a set malfunction when they tried to pull a plank of wood across two blocks. They all laughed it off and kept going with the number—the mark of true professionals—but when I watched the real performance Thursday morning, I watched out for that moment and got a little thrill inside when it went off without a hitch. Maybe that’s the performer in me: I know how it feels for something to go wrong onstage, hope the next performance goes right, and be thrilled inside when it does. And if I didn’t do theater myself, I would’ve never seen that clip on TikTok and never have thought to be watching out for that. But these parade performances are such a special opportunity for the actors involved that, as a performer myself, I get a sense of pride watching them. It makes me wonder how it must feel to perform during an event that you know is being watched by millions of families across the country. It must be such a rush. 

These parades are beloved across the country for so many reasons, and they’re a tradition for a reason. As a viewer, I’m grateful for them because they are purely a happy event, and their presence means the holiday season is upon us. I’m grateful for the chance to watch them, and for Broadway as a whole bringing such joy to the world. But for Broadway shows, these parades exposure, and the performance opportunity of a lifetime. And that’s something to be grateful for.