Performer and friend of the podcast Michael Mahany allows us to the recent piece he wrote for Dance Network here on our blog.
In the wake of the terrible events that unfolded this weekend in Charlottesville, the voices of Broadway’s strong and diverse community came out with a powerful and poignant message, Saturday evening. Led by Hamilton’s Javier Munoz, a series of photographs featuring the vast array of cultural and racial differences on Broadway’s stages began to light up Instagram under the hashtag #DiversityOfBroadway.
A Saturday evening photograph from the cast of Hamilton backstage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway quickly circulated, and by late Saturday night, cast members from shows like Broadway’s Groundhog Day, On Your Feet, Aladdin, Waitress, Miss Saigon, and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory had posted photos of company members to the hashtag as well.
Munoz posted the photo of an ethnically and culturally diverse cast of Hamilton with the quote, “Stand united in strength, power, & diversity. #DiversityOfBroadway”. Following Munoz’s initial post, stars from around the Great White Way began to post and re-post photos of their companies to the hashtag.
“Diversity makes us stronger as a nation,” Aladdin and Glee star Telly Leung posted along with a picture of his cast.
TONY® winner James Monroe Iglehart posted a black and white video of himself speaking the words, “Love. Peace. Tolerance. Diversity. Pass It On.”
“We are the cast of @misssaigonus and we stand for diversity #DiversityOfBroadway #StrongTogether,” TONY® nominee Jon Jon Briones posted with a photo of the cast of Miss Saigon.
A compilation of Saturday night’s #DiversityOfBroadway photos; assembled by Groundhog Day’s Raymond J. Lee
Broadway’s response to the bigotry and hatred has always been filled with a powerful message of community support and a unity in accepting difference.
Dance Network spoke with Hamilton performer and dancer Lauren Boyd who works with Munoz in the Broadway production.
“I'm very grateful for this small but hopefully very impactful movement. I'm sad at the cost... This is a wonderful reminder that EVERYONE is precious, EVERYONE is relevant and EVERYONE is a beautiful workmanship created for a purpose,” said Boyd. “We as a community are praying for those who have been wronged, for peace and comfort and for continued understanding of each other in these trying times.”
Broadway performer and dancer— and current swing at Cats On Broadway— Aaron Albano told DN, “I'd say the more people spreading the values of love, joy, acceptance, respect, and honor, no matter who they are, the better. We have found ourselves in a world that has lifted up hate and bigotry and intolerance, and the only way to combat those is with their opposite. Dr. MLK Jr said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.’ And that should not be confused with weakness or passiveness. We will have strength in calling out the injustice in our world, but equal strength in promoting truth, love, and wholeness in our broken world. And I am proud to be a part of a community that it committed to doing just that.”
With movements like The Ghostlight Project which is dedicated to protecting inclusion and acceptance, or BroadwayStrong, the group that organized performers around the Women’s March, Broadway continues to stand for acceptance and love. Simple and profound statements from the theatre community at large, like the momentum created from Saturday’s posts, provide a unified voice. In a time where minority groups are living in fear, the harmony created by this union of diverse artists is essential to their audience—and the act of true community leadership standing against hate.