Tony winning Broadway legends André De Shields, Joel Grey and Chita Rivera were part of “We Will Be Back,” a special live pop-up experience and commemoration of Broadway’s “lost year,” as the theater community reunited on March 12, 2021 in Times Square exactly one year to the day since Broadway shut-down.
The event aimed to provide a sense of hope as the industry and city move forward from the challenges brought on by the past year, by shining a spotlight on the arts workers who suffered during the theatre’s darkest hours as well as celebrating the sense of community and diversity within the arts environment that mirrors that of New York City itself.
Speeches by Joel Grey, Chita Rivera and André De Shields.
While the arts community has many months ahead before uniting in theatres once again, “We Will Be Back” provided the opportunity to safely and ceremoniously come together on Broadway, live and in-person, for a special one-time-only performance representing a myriad of arts and culture workers, unions, and individuals that comprise the Broadway community.
After his remarks, De Shields was joined by Brandon Nase, Heath Saunders, Kathryn Gallagher, Ryann Redmond, Charl Brown, Bre Jackson, Michael Fatica, Anna Uzele, Olivia Valli, Gerry McIntyre, Kris Coleman, Orville Mendoza, Jackie Cox, Broadway Inspirational Voices, and dancers Kellen Stancil, Julius Anthony Rubio, Keely Bierne, Karla Garcia, Tyler Eisenreich, Lloyd Boyd, Ryan Worsing, Rosie Fiedelman, Samantha Farrow, Michael Graceffa, and Whitney Cooper for “Magic to Do” (Written by Stephen Schwartz and performed with his support) featuring an arrangement by Tom Kitt.
Featured musicians led by Jacob Yates included Aurelien Budyne and Justin Vance. And background vocalists feature Cameron Hill, Mia Gerachis, Melissa Rose Hirsch, Shaunice Alexander and Kim Blank, Ben Toomer, Josh Tolle, John Batt, Anthony Murphy and Julian Decker.
“We Will Be Back” includes contributions from the variety of institutions and organizations that make Broadway what it is, including: Broadway Inspirational Voices, RRR Creative, Dominick Costa (Merchant’s Hospitality), Judi Wilfore (leading front of house, ushers, company managers and concessions efforts), Be An Arts Hero, Black Theatre United, The Costume Industry Coalition, Broadway For Racial Justice, The Dramatists Guild, Black Theatre Coalition, Local 802, The Casting Society of America, The New York Drama Critics Circle, Local 764, ATPAM, Open Jar Studios, Stars in the House, New York Drama Critics and The Marriott Marquis. Special thanks to Times Square champions, Senator Brad Hoylman, Erik Bottcher, District Leader Marisa Redanty, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
The event organizers are collectively responsible for producing dozens of events all over the city during the pandemic including pop ups in the five boroughs and October’s Times Square Event featuring Bernadette Peters and 50 fellow artists singing on the red steps over TKTS in Times Square’s Father Duffy Square.
The event is sponsored by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Kaleidoscope Entertainment, NYCNext, and the Times Square Alliance, executive produced by Blake Ross and directed and produced by Holly-Anne Devlin of Kaleidoscope, with musical direction by Jacob Yates and choreography by Kellen Stancil.
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Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young.
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