While the weekend's inclement rainy weather may have cancelled a couple of events, it could not dampen the spirits of participants or attendees at the 2023 Curtain Up Broadway Festival. Held September 8–10 in Times Square, the three-day outdoor event celebrated all things Broadway with sing-alongs, performances from Broadway stars, and more.
The Friday kick-off celebration was hosted by Here Lies Love's Arielle Jacobs and Melody Butiu and featured remarks and introductions from festival partners Playbill, Time Square Alliance, and The Broadway League, as well as title sponsor, Prudential Financial, and supporter, The NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Read more about the opening celebration here.
The Saturday mainstage opened with a morning dance workshop with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. Audiences were encouraged to join performers Amos Machanic, Renée Robinson, Fatima Logan‑Alston, Cheryl Rowley‑Gaskins, and Aaron Thomas to learn (modified, thank goodness) excerpts of Ailey's masterwork, Revelations. Accompaniment was provided by drummer David Alston.
The mainstage also hosted the Prudential Stages on Broadway concert, presenting four aspiring and emerging artists, and ¡Viva! Broadway: Aquí y Allá (Here and There), a concert celebrating the influence that Latin and Hispanic artists have had on Broadway. Read more about Prudential Stages on Broadway here and find out who walked away with a $10,000 scholarship prize. Then see the ¡Viva! Broadway set list here.
Throughout the weekend, on Prudential’s Belt it Out on Broadway Dueling Pianos Stage, theatregoers were treated to performances and sing-alongs. Brandon James Gwinn (pianist at the world-renowned Marie’s Crisis) led a Broadway divas sing-along, and pianists Elijah Caldwell and Rachel Kaufman and Sarah Glassman and Drew Wutke duked it out in the ivories in dueling piano shows.
Saturday evening, just before Broadway curtain time, the Rockers On Broadway: Live in Times Square show hit the Belt It Out on Broadway stage. Benefiting The PATH Fund, the concert was hosted by Broadway’s Donnie Kehr and his band (Donnie Kehr, Nick Prez, Gary Bristol, Hidayat Honari, Jay Leslie, John Putnam, and Dan Weiner), rocking the stage with Broadway and contemporary rock-n-roll hits! Guest performers included Gerard Canonico, Keirsten Nicole Hodgens, Michael Longoria, Jennifer Perry, Nick Prez, Max Sangerman, Jeremy Schonfeld, Bligh Voth, and Aléna Watters, with PATH Fund student performers.
The festival wrapped up Sunday morning with a special Curtain Up! Live finale concert, hosted by Eric McCormack and broadcast live on WABC. Participating Broadway shows included & Juliet; A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical; Aladdin; Back To The Future: The Musical; The Book of Mormon; Chicago; Hadestown; Harmony; Here Lies Love; How to Dance in Ohio; Jaja’s African Hair Braiding; Kimberly Akimbo; The Lion King; Moulin Rouge! The Musical; The Shark Is Broken; SIX: The Musical; Some Like It Hot; Spamalot; and Wicked. Things got particularly dramatic when Some Like It Hot star Adrianna Hicks sang her torch song, "A Darker Shade of Blue," while the rain was falling. Check out the concert set list here.
All in all, the rain did not keep Broadway from singing and dancing. And it was the perfect way to celebrate currently running shows and upcoming ones. See you next year for the fourth annual Curtain Up! event.
See photos from the weekend festival in the gallery below.