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8 Stars Remember Their First Broadway Shows


There are some firsts you never forget: Your first kiss. Your first heartbreak. (OK, a lot of firsts have to do with kisses and heartbreak.) Your first Broadway show.

There’s a certain energy and excitement about being in a Broadway theater in the heart of New York City that’s impossible to duplicate anywhere else. When the lights go down and the curtain goes up, your whole world changes — if only for a moment. Broadway Spin has rounded up some of our favorite stars of screen and stage to find out what they remember about their first trips to the Great White Way. (What they remember about their first heartbreaks coming at a later date… maybe.)


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“Well Hair was my first Broadway show, though I don’t know if I was cognizant enough to notice!” The Real O’Neals star confessed. “But then the next one was Peter Pan. I’ve wanted to be Peter Pan ever since.”  


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“A Chorus Line,” the Broadway veteran (and Tony winner!) revealed. “I was 17. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God!’ What was ‘Oh my God’ about it was Donna McKechnie had gone back into the show so I got to see the original Cassie. That blew my mind. I had already gotten to see regional productions of A Chorus Line so I already knew the show. It blew my mind that she was in it.”


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Les Miserables was my first,” the Hairspray Live! host revealed. “I was one of those kids who had cast albums. I would go to the record store and listen to cast albums. It was a middle ground between me and my parents because we could all listen to that. I thought that was cool.”     


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Jekyll and Hyde and Ragtime were my two first,” the Broadway alum (who currently stars in the TV series BrainDead) said. “I remember seeing Ragtime and being struck by the size of it and the amazing composition of music. It was the first time that I saw a musical that made me say, ‘Oh wow this is something unbelievable’ and seeing Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald was something special too.”    


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“I saw Starlight Express and I saw The Tap Dance Kid with Alfonso Ribeiro, Carlton from The Fresh Prince,” the comedian (who stars in his own limited-run Broadway show, Oh Hello) revealed. “I was like, 6, and there were people on roller skates. I was like, ‘OK, great.'”


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“It was Bye Bye Birdie,” the two-time Tony award winner (and three-time nominee) reported. “I couldn’t get enough. It was like pure magic.”  


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The genius who brought us Moulin Rouge and Romeo+Juliet (with Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and a soundtrack that pretty much every teenage girl played straight for six months) has fond memories of his first trip to Broadway. “The Lion King,” Luhrmann explained. “I was blown away. I remember thinking, ‘Wow no wonder people come to Broadway.’ It was like the very first week of it.”


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First thing’s first: Yes, that is Bill Murray in the background of NPH’s photo. (They were randomly on a plane flight together.) Now that we’ve got that out of the way: “The first Broadway show I ever saw was Les Miserables,” the A Series of Unfortunate Events star reported. “I was 12 turning 13 and I’d never been to New York before and my whole family was flown out there right after I made my first movie, called Clara’s Heart, with Whoopie Goldberg. I sat there and watched staging on a scale I had never contemplated. I had never seen a set that big or a cast that talented.”