To celebrate the return of Broadway, Playbill, The Broadway League, the Times Square Alliance, and lead sponsor Prudential are partnering to present Curtain Up! – a free live three-day festival to be held September 17-19. Taking place outdoors in Times Square, from 45th to 48th Streets on Broadway, the celebration will feature 22 star-studded events on stages in Duffy Square and between 45th and 46th Streets, offering fans a wide variety of concerts, conversations, and an assortment of interactive experiences.
“Broadway’s reopening is like a huge welcome mat for New Yorkers and visitors to return to Times Square, which has the brightest lights in NYC and is an international symbol for the city as a whole,” said Times Square Alliance President Tom Harris. “With Broadway’s return and theaters bringing back live entertainment and artists to their stages, it will also create a domino effect and help to continue to bring back guests to neighborhood restaurants, hotels, retailers, and independent businesses which have all been waiting for Broadway’s return.”
Anne del Castillo, Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, noted, “What a joy to say out loud that Broadway is officially back, where it belongs, live and on the iconic stages of New York City. This accomplishment signals the return of one of the city’s largest creative economic contributors and the employment of its diverse community of creative talent, for the continued enjoyment of New Yorkers and tourists alike.”
Beginning on Friday, September 17, at 11 am, co-hosts Ayanna Prescod and Christian Lewis of Broadway Podcast Network’s What’s Up Broadway? will present a pre-opening event at the Playbill Piano Bar (in Times Square bet, 45th and 46th Streets) with guests from BPN and the Broadway community. Then the festival officially kicks off at noon with speakers and special guests Brian Stokes Mitchell (Kiss Me, Kate) and Jessica Vosk (Wicked), along with music director John McDaniel and additional participants to be announced.
Following the launch, the weekend schedule will include such star-studded events as audience singalongs with Joe Iconis (Be More Chill), Richard Rodger Award winner Brandon James Gwinn (Marie’s Crisis), and Rob Rokicki (The Lighting Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical) on piano; a Jimmy Awards Reunion Concert, hosted by Jelani Alladin (Frozen), bringing together alumni of the National High School Musical Theatre (Jimmy) Awards program; conversations addressing issues of the Black to Broadway initiative with some of the writers, directors, and performers who are bringing Black productions to Broadway stages; ¡Viva! Broadway When We See Ourselves, a musical celebration of the contributions of Latin and Hispanic artists, featuring Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Robin de Jesús (In The Heights), Bianca Marroquín and Ana Villafañe (Chicago), and more; and The Playbill Variety Show, an hour of Broadway updates, stories, interviews, and surprise performances in the middle of Times Square, with Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys) numbering among the guests.
The festival will culminate in the grand Curtain Up: This is Broadway! concert, spotlighting cast members from returning and new Broadway productions, and heralding the reopening of Broadway and NYC with the message that “BROADWAY IS BACK!” The current roster of participating shows and performers includes: Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations; Aladdin; Caroline, or Change; Chicago; Come From Away; Company; Dear Evan Hansen; Diana the Musical; Girl from the North County; Hadestown; Jagged Little Pill; The Lion King; Mrs. Doubtfire; The Phantom of the Opera; Six; Tina – The Tina Turner Musical; Waitress; Wicked; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Lackawanna Blues; Pass Over; Thoughts of a Colored Man; and To Kill A Mockingbird. Additional special guests will be announced soon; shows and performers are subject to change.
For the full listing of events, visit the Playbill website. Playbill is also creating a special Guide To All-Things Curtain Up! program that will be distributed to attendees throughout Times Square during the festival, with a virtual copy available on the website. Please note that the Curtain Up! Festival will follow the city, state, and federal COVID-19 guidelines and will inform the public of any changes to the event protocols or schedule.
In addition to the festival, it was just announced that, after its long pandemic closure, the iconic TKTS Booth, offering same-day discount tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, will resume operations on Tuesday, September 14, at 3 pm, in its location under the back of the famed red steps, at Broadway and 47th Street. So not only can you enjoy this free and open weekend-long celebration of “curtains up” on NYC theater, you can also grab some great deals while you’re there!