This summer’s inaugural Broadway Live Cinema Festival, the new film and live performance events honoring Broadway and movie musicals, will make its debut next month at AMC Empire 25, located in the heart of Manhattan and the NYC theater district, at 234 West 42nd Street. To celebrate the highly-anticipated reopening of Broadway theaters this fall, the four-week 2021 festival, running July 15-August 8, will feature the award-winning classic films Chicago, directed by Rob Marshall (2002); West Side Story, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins (1961); The Wizard of Oz, directed by Victor Fleming (1939); Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Frank Oz (1986); and the hot new film adaptation of the five-time Tony-winning musical In The Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, directed by Jon M. Chu (2021), which just opened on June 11.
Each film will be presented as an immersive theatrical experience with live in-cinema performances by a roster of Broadway talents, directed by Tony Award nominee Kristin Hanggi (Rock of Ages), with musical direction by Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb (Choir Boy), and unique choreography by some of Broadway’s most exciting talent, including Sunny Hitt (The Tempest), Luis Salgado (On Your Feet!; In The Heights), Raja Feather Kelly (A Strange Loop), Josh Rhodes (Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella), and James Alonzo (Travis Scott; Cardi B).
Kicking off the in-cinema entertainment for In the Heights screenings is R.Evolución Latina, an organization founded by the show’s original cast member Luis Salgado, with a mission of utilizing the arts to empower the Latino community through educational and collaborative programming. Other confirmed in-cinema performers include Matt Wolpe, L Morgan Lee, Keely Beirne, Danyel Fulton, and Kim Exum, with more to be announced.
The experience inside the theater – produced by playwright, director, and producer Daniel Wise, Zvi Septimus, and Tony Award winner Jeff Croiter, in association with AMC Theaters – features production design by Anita La Scala and Rob Bissinger (Big Apple Circus), projection design by Tony Award nominee Lucy Mackinnon (Jagged Little Pill), sound by Matt Kraus (Kristin Chenoweth: My Love Letter To Broadway), and lighting by Drama Desk Award winner Amith Chandrashaker (Boesman and Lena).
Following the in-cinema screenings and entertainment, audiences will then have the ticket option for exclusive access to the 4,500 square-foot AMC Rooftop Lounge, where a star-studded line-up of Broadway and cabaret acts, in partnership with Feinstein’s/54 Below and curated by the popular nightclub’s Creative and Programming Director Jennifer Ashley Tepper, will perform sets celebrating the marquee films of the festival at an outdoor after-party set against the iconic backdrop of the lights and landmarks of Times Square.
Jen shared her thoughts about the series and her involvement in developing it, telling me that, “It’s been absolutely thrilling to work with artists and the amazing Broadway Live Cinema Festival team to curate a series of concerts specifically paired thematically with these movie musicals. Little Shop of Horrors, West Side Story, Chicago, Wizard of Oz, and In The Heights are each such landmark incredible films, and to have artists presenting live evenings of music that are inspired by them in some way is a double delight in our long-awaited return to the theater.” She added, “I can’t wait to be in a movie theater, enjoying one of these films on the big screen with other audience members, and then share a live concert performance together as well, in the heart of Times Square. New York is back!”
The exciting July schedule for Feinstein’s/54 Below at the AMC Rooftop is as follows:
July 15 – The Barrio Sings Broadway, starring Broadway and National Tour cast members of In The Heights and friends;
July 15 – The Skivvies: Little Shop of Horrors Edition, with Lauren Molina (Rock of Ages), Nick Cearley (All Shook Up), special guest Tamika Lawrence (Caroline or Change), and more;
July 16 – Zack Zadek & Friends Celebrate In the Heights;
July 16 – Sing Happy . . . And All That Jazz – Queer & Trans artists Celebrate Kander & Ebb, directed by Max Friedman;
July 17 – Christine Pedi Celebrates Chicago;
July 17 – SiriusXM “On Broadway” host Julie James, sharing behind-the-scenes stories about the musicals featured in the festival;
July 22 – Robert Creighton: It’s Time To Dream, with Drama Desk nominee Robert Creighton (Frozen; The Mystery of Edwin Drood);
July 22 – Chicago star Bianca Marroquín;
July 23 – Danny Jonokuchi and The Revisionists Celebrate West Side Story;
July 23 – The Legacy of In the Heights: A Latinx Writers Concert Featuring the Work of Jaime Lozano and More;
July 24 – The Girl From Oz: Melissa Errico Swings the Yellow Brick Road, with Tony nominee Melissa Errico (Amour; My Fair Lady) and the Matt Baker Quintet;
July 24 – The Muse – An Evening Honoring Black Women, with Tina: The Tina Turner Musical’s Destinee Rea;
July 29 – Tony nominee Brenda Braxton (Smokey Joe’s Café; Chicago) in Act 2, Now What?;
July 29 – The Yellow Brick Legacy, starring Caroline Bowman (Frozen; Kinky Boots), Austin Colby (Frozen; Jersey Boys), Anastacia McCleskey (Waitress; The Secret Life of Bees), and Daniel Quadrino (Wicked; Newsies), under the direction of Benjamin Rauhala;
July 30 – Wicked star Julia Murney.
The rooftop series wraps up in August, with Jonathan Larson Grant winner Rona Siddiqui & Friends on August 5; Tony nominee Joe Iconis and Family Salutes Ashman and Menken on August 5; Drama Desk nominee Amy Spanger Celebrates Chicago with Special Guest Lana Gordon on August 6; and Jennifer Leigh Warren, Little Shop of Horrors’ Original Crystal on August 7.
Broadway Live Cinema Festival plays at the AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street, July 15-August 8. Tickets for specific screening dates and performance sets, ranging from $29-$129 (for the in-theater experience only, or a full package that includes post-show access to the rooftop) are available for purchase on the website. Please note that, in accordance with state mandates and CDC guidelines, masks are not required for fully vaccinated guests. Those who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask throughout the building, which may be temporarily removed while enjoying food and drinks. If needed, masks will be available to purchase for just $1. For more details about safety measures, go online.