You never forget your first time… at a Broadway show. Broadway Spin caught up with eight of Broadway’s best to hear about their earliest memories experiencing the glory that is the Great White Way.
“The first Broadway show I saw was Master Class with Audra McDonald,” the Kiss Me Kate alum revealed. “I was 21, it was my first trip to New York. I was an opera singer at the time and wanted to see what Broadway could do for an opera singer. It told me and I moved here. I followed people like Audra and Marin [Mazzie]. I saw that there was a place for me. I really wanted to be on Broadway but I had less of a pop sound. And knowing that was happening on a a Broadway stage made me feel hopeful. That was very important to me”
“Thoroughly Modern Millie with Sutton Foster. It blew my mind. Then Gavin Creel took me around backstage afterward. I thought, ‘I want to be you and I want to be here. This is what I want my life to be,'” the Tony-winning Dear Evan Hansen alum told us. “Back then I was a theater fan and a big nerd. I listened to Broadway albums all growing up. And it was the first time I came to New York to see a show live on Broadway.”
STEPHANIE J. BLOCK
“I saw three shows in a weekend that were so different but made me so hungry to come to Broadway: Kiss of the Spiderwoman with Chita Rivera, Crazy for You and Tommy.That was a good weekend,” Stephanie J. Block recalled. “I saw those three shows in two days and that was it. I thought, ‘I have got to get out here.'” Block, who recently won a Tony Award for her role in The Cher Show, added, “I was 19-years-old and playing Belle at Disney Land. Disney Theatricals was starting to make Beauty and the Beast a Broadway musical. So I got called back and flown out to New York. It was all jitters and nerves and also tasting what New York Theater had to offer And that was it. There was no going back.”
BRANDON VICTOR DIXON
“My first Broadway show was Ragtime with Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell,” Tony and Grammy winner Brandon Victor Dixon (Aaron Burr in Hamilton) shared. “I was in High School, sat in the very last row, and it was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I remember watching Stokes — the fountain of gold that was pouring from the mouth of this man was unreal to me. I thought, ‘How could I be like this?’ It was a very full-circle moment when I got to do Shuffle Along with them last year.”
“When I was eleven-years-old, I saw the Lion King and Rent, two very different shows. That double-whammy got me into theater in a deep way,” the Oscar-winning composer of “City of Stars” from La La Land recalled. “I went with my family and remember The Lion King being magical. The animals were coming through the aisles. I thought the possibility of what theater can be is amazing.” Pasek, who is one-half of the team responsible for the score for the hit show Dear Evan Hansen, added, “And then Rent was the show that changed my life. It had representation of people I saw myself in, gay characters on stage. To be a young kid who was questioning my identity and feeling alone and a little bit lost in the world — to see yourself portrayed on stage and as a celebrated hero or as part of a complicated story where you are loved, where issues of love are addressed, it’s a really beautiful thing. It makes you think about how representation on stage is for every creed, color, religion and sexual orientation so it’s a wonderful thing.”
Justin Paul is the other half of the team behind the magical score for Dear Evan Hansen (as well as La La Land — and yes, he has an Oscar too). “Cats was the first Broadway show I ever saw. I nine-years old and seeing it with my family. It really altered my perspective of Broadway shows because in Cats the actors come into the aisles. I remember there was a woman nudging her head against my knee acting like a cat. I thought, ‘Broadway is amazing. People are singing and dancing and then they come into the aisles, touch and talk to you.’ It was a whole interactive experience.”
“The first show I ever saw was Wicked,” the Grease and Rent Live! alum revealed. ” It is such a magical, powerful, beautiful show. I was working in television and film and wishing that I could have the chance and opportunity to live in New York and work on Broadway. It seemed like a dream and so far away. And some years later I got an opportunity to join the Great White Way in Hamilton and be here.” (ICYMI, Fisher played both John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in Hamilton.)
Every Broadway show is in play at Broadway Roulette!