If you saw my last post on this blog, you know that I was in New York City recently on a very theatre-filled trip. What I didn’t include in that post was another theatre related event we attended during our time there and decided to dedicate a separate post to this most Broadway of events: Stars in the Alley!
For those of you who are not aware, Stars in the Alley marks the end of the Broadway season and takes place in Shubert Alley, located beside the Shubert Theatre (the current home of Hello, Dolly!).
As we were planning our trip we found out that Stars in the Alley was happening on the day we were going to be leaving the city. Thankfully we were able to work out our travel plans to accommodate a few hours at Shubert Alley before flying home. I always hear about events like this (and things like the Broadway Flea Market, Broadway Barks, Broadway in Bryant Park, etc) but have never been in the city when they were happening so I was so excited to be able to fit this one in! (It is still a goal of mine to someday be in the city for the Broadway Flea Market!) When we were originally planning our trip we were thinking of going a couple of weeks earlier which would have actually coincided with Broadway Bakes (when Broadway actors are selling cookies at Schmackary’s), which would have also been exciting, so it was nice that the timing change worked out to include a different Broadway event!
We got to Shubert Alley early for the event, which ended up being a lot of fun because we got to see the sound checks for a lot of the performances which meant we got to see some numbers twice, or in some cases three times if they went through it twice during sound check. Tituss Burgess was hosting Stars in the Alley this year (and yes, I am a Kimmy Schmidt fan) and Brandon Uranowitz was the social media correspondent, so it was really cool seeing both of them! Brandon even walked right by us a few times! It was so cool getting to see performances from so many of the current Broadway shows, most of which I was familiar with already but there were some that I didn’t know very well or at all. Just the fact that so many Broadway shows are featured/take part- both new shows from the current/most recent season and other longer running shows (including some of the longest running like The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago) is amazing. I liked that plays were also included too, with cast members coming out to talk about their shows. I often don’t know as much about the plays as I do the musicals so I like learning more about them (and really should look into them more on my own) and it is nice to see them getting the attention too because when it comes to Broadway a lot of the focus is on the musicals.
As I’ve gone to New York more often in recent years I’ve gotten to see more shows, and more current shows, and to see performances at Stars in the Alley from some of these shows that I had actually seen, both on this trip and on previous trips, and getting to re-experience those songs/performances was so much fun! Shows like School of Rock (though the cast is mostly different from when I saw it), Waitress, Bandstand, Anastasia, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. I got to enjoy encore performances of Corey Cott singing “Donny Novitski,” Christy Altomare singing “Journey to the Past,” and Christopher Fitzgerald singing “You Are Never Getting Rid of Me.” Dave Malloy sang from Great Comet and it’s always so cool seeing composers performing their own songs!
Then there were the performances from shows I have not seen. The Come From Away performance was amazing. They sang “Welcome to the Rock” and it made me regret even more missing it when it was in Toronto! The Dear Evan Hansen performance was also great. I wasn’t sure which song they would perform (and I was not surprised at all that Ben Platt wasn’t there) but it was great seeing Rachel Bay Jones (now Tony winner!), Will Roland and Kristolyn Lloyd perform “Good For You.” It pretty much goes without saying that I really want to see this show too! (We did try entering the digital lottery for it while we were in New York but, not surprisingly, we did not win.)
With events like this it’s fun to see which songs get performed from each show. There always seem to be some “standard” numbers that get performed, the ones that are sung at every similar event, but it’s still great to see them. It’s also fun to see the current casts of the longer running shows, like Abby Mueller who is currently playing Carole King in Beautiful on Broadway (and you can totally tell she and Jessie are related), and the casts of revivals, when you’re more familiar with previous casts, like Mamie Parris (who I did actually see in School of Rock) who is the current Grizabella in Cats.
The one downside to our experience was when it started getting sunny and a tent/cover was put up just a little ways ahead of us, which I’m pretty sure was to cover some equipment, which is totally understandable in itself BUT they put it up during one of the performances (I think it was the Kinky Boots performance) and then when it was up it was crooked with the front corner angled down, which affected our view of the stage. There was a screen visible to the side of where we were standing and we could see some of the stage, looking between the tent and the crowd, so we could still see what was happening on the stage but it was a bit disappointing. Overall though it was a good day- you can’t really go wrong with an afternoon filled with showtunes! The real downside to the day was having to fly home at the end of it!
I love that events like this exist and that I was able to witness this one! Also the fact that it’s a free event makes it even better! Anything that makes Broadway more accessible is a great thing! Broadway tickets are not always the cheapest things to obtain so it’s great that there are free ways to experience what Broadway has to offer. And I’m sure it doesn’t hurt ticket sales either since it also serves the purpose of introducing people to more shows. If I had been staying in New York longer some of these performances might have influenced which shows I would have bought tickets for. It’s also so great seeing that Broadway events like this (and things like BroadwayCon) can draw such crowds! And crowds of varying ages! It’s great to have these events/places where Broadway fans can go and celebrate Broadway and be surrounded by like minded people, where we can obsess to our hearts’ content! And really it just goes to show the impact that Broadway/theatre can have on anyone and everyone!