Vaccination card checks, negative COVID tests, for those who cannot be vaccinated, masks and all Broadway is back and buzzing with excitement. There is an electricity in the air and a communal sigh of relief to be back in the theatre. The safety measures make the experience feel enjoyable and the artists performing are back with a vengeance.
Throughout the pandemic, all my daughter wanted was to get back on Broadway to see a show. We bought tickets to Six as a birthday gift and then crossed our fingers that things would eventually open back up. I had wanted to see Six at the American Repertory Theatre but time slipped away from us.
Six on Broadway was incredible. My daughter and I, along with a packed house full of audience members had so much fun. I chose to keep it fresh and knew none of the story nor the music. My daughter already listened to the score and knew many of the lyrics. Neither of us are history buffs but we both loved the show for its wit and multifaceted characters. The full female cast including the ever important musicians gave the show so much energy and power. That combined with a multi-gendered audience just thrilled to be back at a live performance was electric.
Another refreshing aspect of Six that has been true from the get go is the diversity of the cast. As we all know Broadway has been way too white for way too long. The diverse cast, in race, culture, stature, among other things I’m sure just made the show that much richer. Each of the wives were individual women of varying backgrounds that brought something to Henry the 8th’s life and each was dealt a different hand.
As for the naysayers, dare I say racist or white privileged naysayers, who wonder how realistic it is to cast diverse wives, I’m not sure about you, but I don’t seek out reality when I go to a show. I go to a show to escape it. A white 20 something actor is no closer to one of Henry the 8th actual wives than any actor as far as I’m concerned. What is real, more real than you can get just about anywhere, are the feelings that a show evokes, a power that a moment in a show can evoke in you, or an emotional surge you can feel from a few notes, a pause on stage, or a communal laugh in the audience.
After our matinee at Six, we had splurged to see Sara Bareilles in the recently brought back to Broadway: Waitress. My children could sing every word to the original score by Bareilles before the Broadway show came to fruition so it was especially meaningful to see this show again. The whole performance, I could not help but wonder what it must be like to star in a show that you wrote the entire score for.
The set was slightly different, and only better, at the Barrymore. I love seeing the musicians on stage like they had been at the American Repertory Theatre. Our neighbours in the front row at the Barrymore had also seen the show at the American Repertory Theatre. People came from far and wide to see both shows.
If you have not seen Waitress yet, or have only seen it at the Brooks Atkins Theatre, it is worth seeing again. Each new cast brings something slightly different to their characters. Waitress is a reminder that life is complicated as is love. It is not a mushy lovey-dovey story, nor is it overly dramatic and tragic. I cry at every show, but I’m just like that. More than that, I laugh, and I root for each of their characters to get where they are going. It’s a pretty good reflection of life and how we each find ways of getting through it, skirting stumbling blocks and helping one another over hurdles.
It is refreshing, and somewhat healing as well to have Broadway back. It was apparent not just for audience members but also for the actors, musicians, and no doubt behind the scenes staff. Even the ushers and “mask up” sign holders seemed thrilled to be back.