Jessica Chastain Kills Strindberg, Kristin Chenoweth Shucks Corn: The Wildest Red Carpet Moments of 2023 | Playbill

Special Features Jessica Chastain Kills Strindberg, Kristin Chenoweth Shucks Corn: The Wildest Red Carpet Moments of 2023

Playbill's Director of Social Media shares his favorite moments from the red (and green and orange) carpets of this year.

Andrew Rannells, Jessica Chastain, and Kristen Chenoweth

As Playbill's Director of Social Media, without a doubt, my favorite part of my job is covering the red carpet. They are always unpredictable, memorable, and no two are ever a like. And when it came to red carpets, 2023 did not disappoint.

Below I’ve listed (in chronological order) some of my favorite moments from this year's red carpets.

Playing "F, Marry, Kill" with Jessica Chastain

Hand on my heart, I don't get star-struck these days. I've been interviewing celebs on red carpets for a few years now and what I always tell people is, "They aren't superhumans. They aren't larger than life. They're just people." So when getting ready for the opening night of A Doll's House last winter, I wasn't nervous or anxious to meet the cast. However, I was anxious to see how they would react to the game our team came up with for the carpet's video. These kinds of things can go awry quickly. Casts can lean into the silliness and have fun, while others have a more difficult time, which is understandable. So when they get to Playbill, I always want them to leave with the impression that we're someone you can breathe easy with. I just want them to like me/us/Playbill. I'm a people-pleasing Cancer, what can I say?

So when she came down the carpet (and you know who I'm talking about), I was nervous. Would she be in work mode as a serious actress providing in-depth answers about her process and her character? Would she even want to play a game for our social media accounts? The answer was...she did and was excited to play. 

In fact, she switched it up and added her own option for one of the playwrights. Jessica Chastain and the cast were fantastic. Even though it was one of our first videos of 2023, it still remains one of my favorites.

Two Lucilles on the Opening Night Red Carpet of Parade

The Broadway revival of Parade was a much-anticipated show last spring and my team and I were prepared for a busy carpet. Some red carpets have a few outlets from major news networks, some have just the Broadway outlets. But this one had them all. I remember being so squashed that I had to stand completely sideways with our camera sitting practically on my shoulder.

Despite the crowd, it was a blast of a carpet. Besides the usual questions, I asked everyone for their favorite Jason Robert Brown song, and the editing that Ethan Treiman (Playbill's video editor) put together is hilarious. If you haven't watched it, you can here.

But my favorite part of the carpet did not happen during my interview. In a fun surprise, Carolee Carmello surprised Micaela Diamond. It was such an unexpected and beautiful moment. To see Carmello, who originated the role of Lucille and influenced so many actors from her performance (including Diamond, I'm sure), come together with the new Lucille (who will inspire new generations of performers) was such a touching moment. Take a look at the video below and you can tell from Diamond's expression how much the moment meant to her.

Two fun facts: First, Carmello hands Diamond a jar that is actually filled with pickled watermelon (a wonderful little easter egg from the show). Secondly, after walking the red carpet Carolee had to run across the street to the Imperial Theatre because she had to get ready for her show that evening. RIP Bad Cinderella.

The Great Shuckin' of 2023

Oh, the planning that went into this carpet. I had the idea for a corn-shucking competition on the opening night of Shucked. And the entire Playbill editorial staff pitched in to help. I had a few people going to different grocery stores to buy ears of corn in the middle of April—a decidedly uncorny season. We had over 60 ears of corn. Some people also helped out on the red carpet with bringing corn at different times to replenish and disposing of the husks. Others stayed to help facilitate the shucking. When people joke about "it takes a village," that perfectly sums up this experience. 

But no matter how much work we put into it ahead of time, I was nervous if anyone would actually shuck. Listen, just because we ask doesn't mean that anyone is obligated to answer my questions or play any of the games I come up with on these red carpets. People spend hours getting glammed up for opening night, would any of them risk messing up the look to shuck corn? 

Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. Everyone was down to play and more enthusiastic than the person before them. Moments that will forever live rent-free in my head: Kristin Chenoweth biting into an ear of raw corn and ripping at the husk with her (fully glammed) nails. Also, I got to meet the ECO of corn himself: Tariq (the Corn Kid) screaming, “It’s corn!”  All of that and more can be seen below.

You're a Cover Girl, D'Arcy!

D'Arcy Carden Michaelah Reynolds

I am a D'Arcy Carden fan. Period. End of sentence. So when the opportunity came to interview for a Playbill print feature, I jumped at the chance. Meeting and interviewing her was fantastic, the photos from the shoot with our Photo Editor Heather Gershonowitz were outstanding. And, not to toot my own horn, but I think the article is pretty great. You can read it here.

But the memory I'll keep close to my jaded little heart is watching Carden react to seeing her photo from the article's photo shoot picked as the cover for the May Playbill subscription cover. Her reaction was priceless. She was so shocked, honored, and as she said, a theatre kid's dream come true. 

It was one of those moments that made me realize: I really love my job.

D'Arcy Carden Sees Her Playbill Cover

Real New Yorkers Sound Off

Sometimes coming up with games for the red carpets can be so laborsome. I go back and forth on whether it will work for the interviewees? Will our Playbill followers find it funny? Will we get good responses? However, this was not the case for the opening night of New York, New York. I knew five minutes into seeing the production the night before that I was going to ask the cast, creatives, and guests to finish the sentence, "You're not a real New Yorker until..."

The answers were perfect and I was shocked by how many celebs agreed to play, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Danza, Joel Grey, Rachel Dratch, Chita Rivera, David Hyde Pierce. And they all had perfect answers. I'd also want to spotlight Anna Uzele's answer. It was so on point that I felt it in my bones. 

Natasha Yvette Williams Brings the Playbill Staff to Tears

Now, this next entry isn't exactly a red carpet. However, the Tony Nominees' Press Junket is one of the most stressful and rewarding days of the year. Imagine wrangling, interviewing, and photographing every newly minted Tony nominee in just a few hours. If you want to see what that day is like, check out the video here.

It's a wild day but moments like Natasha Yvette Williams' interview make it all worth it. She has been long overdue to receive her flowers and recognition. Being able to listen to her speak, so open-heartedly and so authentically, brought our entire team to tears with her. She's given me so much inspiration that I still think about our whole interview, eight months later.

The Best Dressed Cast of an Opening Night

I can say for certain that the best-dressed cast for 2023 was Jaja’s African Hair Braiding. Those 10 actors knew the assignment and came to the red carpet ready. As each one came down the line, my jaw kept dropping and dropping, until finally I had to get help to pick it off the floor. And the best part was that the entire cast, creative team, and opening night guests were just so excited to celebrate the representation on the Friedman stage, as well as playwright Jocelyn Bioh.

I knew I had to come up with a great game for the red carpet; then icon LaChanze said, in the video below, "That was really smart." Hair toss....

Debating with Andrew Rannells

I've come to expect the unexpected on red carpets. So when preparing for the orange carpet of Gutenberg's opening night, I had to be ready for anything. The idea was simple: Give Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad hats with different character names on them (like in the show) and have them improv those characters giving reviews of Gutenberg

What surprised me that evening was not that they weren't up for it (they VERY much were). It was that when I pulled out the hat with the character "Grand Hotel Lady" (if you don't know who she is, go watch this video right now), Rannells thought it was a Cats reference. What was I supposed to do? Argue with a Broadway star on his opening night? So I tried my best to explain that it was the Grand Hotel commercial, but Rannells insisted it was Cats. But like the true professional that he is, Rannells shrugged it off and did the bit anyway. 

The video came out hilarious and I have a story to tell the grandkids...and Playbill readers.

How Many Witches Did I Accidentally Make Cry?

Listen, I do not purposely try to make anyone cry on these carpets. It just happens sometimes. Especially at anniversary carpets. So when it came to interviewing past Elphabas and Glindas on the green carpet for Wicked's 20th anniversary performance, I knew there was going to be a lot of reminiscing. Should I have planned better and brought tissues? Yes. 

Did Dylan Parent, our editorial assistant, start tallying the number of women I made cry (happy tears, I'll have you)? Yes. Do I remember that number? No. We lost count after a while. 

Harmonizing With the Cast of Harmony

What can I say? The title of the show practically created the game. If ever there was a time to dust off the old vocal cords, the opening night of Harmony was the time. And I'm pretty sure it's every Broadway nerd's dream to sing with Sierra Boggess, Julie Benko, and Chip Zien! And I did...sorta. My favorite part was hearing from the photographers after the carpet wrapped that while I was singing with each cast member, they turned to each other and asked, "Who's singing?" And Social Media Coordinator Meredith Ammons responded? "...My boss." 

What red carpet shenanigans will I get up to next year? Follow Playbill on Instagram or TikTok to find out!

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