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Several Iconic Broadway Shows Reopen Tuesday

NOEL KING, HOST:

Some of Broadway's most iconic shows are reopening tonight, including "The Lion King," "Chicago" and "Hamilton." Three industry veterans have been sharing their experiences with us as they get ready to return.

KRYSTAL JOY BROWN: I'm Krystal Joy Brown, and I'm currently Eliza in "Hamilton" on Broadway.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BROWN: (Singing, as Eliza Hamilton) You have torn it all apart. I'm watching it burn.

RIZA TAKAHASHI: This is Riza Takahashi. I was in the original cast of "Mean Girls" on Broadway.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'D RATHER BE ME")

BARRETT WILBERT WEED: (Singing, as Janis Sarkisian) What's true is being me, and I'd rather be me. I'd rather be me than be with you.

TAKAHASHI: Unfortunately, "Mean Girls" had to close permanently during the pandemic, so I'm back on the grind of auditioning at the moment.

CHRISTEL MURDOCK: I'm Christel Murdock. I'm the assistant wardrobe supervisor for "Aladdin" on Broadway.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A WHOLE NEW WORLD")

ADAM JACOBS: (Singing, as Aladdin) A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view.

MURDOCK: Entering the stage door today was the most incredible feeling. I was met by Micah (ph), our incredible stage doorman. I'm going to use that word a lot, I guess. It was just a surreal feeling. It was like I had never left, but it was also like I hadn't been there in years. There's a lot to do, but it was really fantastic just, you know, jumping in and getting started.

BROWN: This is Krystal Joy Brown from "Hamilton."

(Vocalizing). So every morning, I sneak into the small rehearsal room and do a little vocal warm-up.

(Vocalizing).

And I am feeling rusty. Even though it's Week 2 of rehearsal, I am just, like, a work in progress.

TAKAHASHI: This is Riza Takahashi. Had an in-person audition for "Moulin Rouge" on Broadway. I didn't hear back. I'm currently waiting to hear back from a video audition that I've just submitted a couple days ago, and hopefully I'll hear yes or no, or I might not hear anything (laughter) - life of an actor. It would be a dream if every time I go in, I book that job. Some people are like that, but I've never experienced that before (laughter). So, you know, you just keep auditioning until you're the right person who walks into the room.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ARABIAN NIGHTS")

JAMES MONROE IGLEHART: (Singing, as Genie) Follow me to a place where incredible feats are routine every hour or so.

MURDOCK: Christel Murdock, "Aladdin," Broadway. We've been back in the theater for about a month now - working on alterations, refurbishing items that have been sitting, you know, for a year and a half. I think I was really nervous heading into all of this. I think we're working around different complications. The bite light situation, which I talked about - dressers bite on a light so that they can see what they're doing in the dark, and then they drop it. It's, like, on a lanyard around their neck. We won't use them anymore. But we'll have headlamps. We'll have neck lamps. So we're going to figure all of that out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SCHUYLER SISTERS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing, as characters) Work.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (Singing, as Eliza Hamilton) Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

BROWN: This is Krystal Joy Brown from "Hamilton."

So I am in the lobby of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, and I am waiting for my COVID results to make sure that I can start this tech rehearsal. We've been in rehearsal for two weeks. And it's exciting, but it's also terrifying because I just feel like I'm not ready for eight shows a week. And I'm going to do everything in my power to get on top of it and get ready, but I'm also, like, scared for what is next.

MURDOCK: Christel Murdock, "Aladdin," Broadway. I've worked on quite a few Broadway shows, and opening nights are always exciting. It's the great finish line after working extremely hard, long hours. I mean, openings are always emotional, but just the thought of Broadway returning - it just gets you choked up. It's going to be a different type of opening night. I don't think there's going to be a big, you know, afterparty with everyone hugging and high-fiving. But it's going to be a real celebration that I think everyone on Broadway, everyone in New York City, really is looking forward to.

TAKAHASHI: This is Riza Takahashi.

Since I'm not in any Broadway shows at the moment, I'm staying active in the Broadway community by founding Celebrate Asian Joy Project. And the organization's currently producing a music video with a cast and creative team of Asian artists. And that's basically my entire summer. I've been working on this since May.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) I choose joy. I choose joy.

TAKAHASHI: The fact that Broadway is reopening and I'm not in the Broadway reopening shows gives me mixed feelings. I'm really excited for everyone who's going back to work, but I can't help but feel that I'm not part of that exhilarating feeling in the rehearsal room. The theaters are open, so that's the bigger matter in that we can finally do what we love. But also, I'm letting myself feel a little bit of a hole in my heart where my show isn't coming back on Broadway.

BROWN: So this is Krystal Joy Brown, and I am coming in from my dressing room. We are hours before we have our first-ever audience. We did our run-through yesterday, and it was so bizarre because it felt familiar. But I also think that there's, like - there's something that's changed. And today will be the first day that I get to participate in a collective consciousness of us all being together and being able to celebrate life. Look around - look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now. How true are those lyrics? How important are those lyrics right now? Totally different meaning than they've ever had before. So here we go. This is Broadway, y'all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SCHUYLER SISTERS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing, as characters) Look around. Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

KING: We heard there from "Hamilton's" Krystal Joy Brown, Riza Takahashi from "Mean Girls" and Christel Murdock from "Aladdin."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SCHUYLER SISTERS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing, as characters) In the greatest city in the world. Look around, look around...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (Singing, as Eliza Schuyler) 'Cause I been reading "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.