Friend of the podcast Colin Israel (Matilda) shares his journey of going from Broadway in Bryant park observer to Broadway in Bryant Park performer.
When you move to New York to pursue the Ancient Art of Musical Theatre, you come to recognize annual events which commemorate the theatre community. First off, the Tonys. which you watched before you came and, in all likelihood, is probably a major determining factor as to why you’re there in the first place. Then you discover Broadway on Broadway, Stars in the Alley, the Flea Market, and all of those “only in New York” festivities which enlist current Broadway casts to celebrate their shows and offer a sampling for those who have camped out to see them and those who just happen to pass by.
I first caught Broadway in Bryant Park my second year in New York as I was grabbing lunch between auditions at the Equity Building (no cafe back then). The cast of “Spring Awakening” performed and I found myself thrilled (and a little melancholic, feeling so close yet so far away at that time) that a piece so powerful and a cast I admired so much were performing so enthusiastically for both the public and the groupies like me as we took a break in our days to watch before returning to work (or dance calls).
Fast forward a decade later and I found myself performing with my own Broadway cast as a “student” in an equally riotous musical about breaking free from those who would hold you down (albeit with a much happier ending). To look out on the crowd at Bryant Park and see fans cheering you and your show on while mouthing along with your lyrics (which you’re grateful for: you’d be surprised how much a change of venue makes you second-guess what you’ve been singing for months) is a thrill all its own. Part dream-fulfilled, part geeky, and all fun. It’s like the talent show in high school, with the same high-fives and hugs backstage, but, like, bigger and on Broadway.
And for what it’s worth— if you catch it between regional dance calls, it’s not as far off as you think. ;)
Listen to our podcast episode on Broadway in Bryant Park here.