Opening night of New York, New York was an emotional affair.
The new musical, which is inspired by the 1977 film of the same name, has been in development for years, bringing together legends John Kander, Susan Stroman, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in a theatrical celebration of the city they call home. It features material from Kander's late writing partner Fred Ebb, and marks the first full scale collaboration between Kander and Miranda. New York, New York opened on April 26 at the St. James Theatre after beginning previews on March 24. The all-star trio was joined by book writers David Thompson and Sharon Washington to craft the new musical set in Manhattan in the months after World War II. Read the reviews here.
Centered on collection of artists with dreams as big and diverse as the city itself, among them Francine Evans, a young singer just off the bus from Philly, destined for greatness. At least, until she encounters New York native Jimmy Doyle, a brilliant but disillusioned musician.
"It's New York!" exclaimed leading lady Anna Uzele (New York, New York's Francine). Uzele, who made her Broadway debut in Once On This Island and starred in SIX on Broadway before getting the call for New York, New York. It was surreal when Uzele found herself filming self tapes in her basement to pick up the thread from Liza Minnelli. "It's how this city works. You work your butt off and go to your basement and like do a video, and suddenly here you are on Broadway! There's no more New York story than that to me. I showed up here with probably $40 to my name, and now I'm singing the titular song of the city. I couldn't plan this."
Her co-star, Colton Ryan (Jimmy Doyle), was teary in his agreement. "I'm gonna cry. It's unbelievable. I am so proud to be a part of this, to be at the crossroads of these minds for even a moment. It's overwhelming, I'm like a puddle!"
Lin-Manuel Miranda vividly remembers the first time he heard the material in a workshop. "I cried like 10 different times! I totally destroyed the mask with tears." His pride in the final product is undeniable. "It makes me so proud to live here, and to have made a life here. It is not easy to live in New York, but I have a chance at being my most authentic self here, we all do. Everyone you see on the train is just trying to do their best, and that makes for a pretty incredible musical."
It wasn't all teary reflection and gratitude however! Check out this video of the company of New York, New York declaring just what it takes to call yourself a New Yorker, and read on to learn more about how the cast is feeling as they cross the finish line.
Angel Sigala is making his Broadway debut in New York, New York, playing the aspiring musician Mateo. Sigala has been doing his best to take it all in as it comes. "It's been a whirlwind, a lot of hard work, a lot of new discoveries for me as an artist, a lot of growth. And you know, there comes some pains with that. But more than anything, just a lot of love." Janet Dacal, who plays his mother Sofia, has been guiding him through while feeding off of his present energy. As Dacal puts it, "it's nothing short of incredible, quite honestly. It's infectious. And it makes you want to be better, and you want to do right by them, so you put your whole heart on the table, and you give them everything you have."
Clyde Alves, who dances the night away as Tommy Caggiano, is treasuring the chance to work with Susan Stroman again after their previous work together onBullets Over Broadway, The Music Man, and Oklahoma!. "The journey has been crazy!" Caggiano laughes, waving to Stroman down the carpet. "It started with a phone call from Susan Stroman a little over a year ago saying she had a character in mind for me, and the fact that we're here now opening it in New York City without an out of town... It's unbelievable!"
Like any Susan Stroman musical, the dancing might get you hooked, but it's the heart that brings you home. As Colton Ryan puts it, "She's beyond metric. She operates with such a high standard of excellence, for it to all feel so fully realized emotionally, so nuanced in its inspiration. I'm gonna have a little jacket made that say's 'I'm a Stro Girl'!"
Sharon Washington, who co-wrote the book, believes that standard of excellence is mirrored by the resilience of the city they're representing. "This city has always been resilient. Whether it's in our time period after the war, or coming out of the pandemic now, New York will always come back. The city is a character in our show, and that character just keeps on moving forward."
Constant motion is the thing that makes New York worth celebrating, per John Clay III, who plays Jesse Webb. "New York is the city that never sleeps. It's the only place to get better at being you, in this place that doesn't rest; you're always working hard to keep up with this city, and it makes you better."
Oliver Prose is succinct in his judgement of the process. "This show is a true love letter to the city and for the people of this city. We all came here to be artists," he takes a moment to look around, "and it's better than I ever imagined it could be."
Flip through the gallery below for some of the opening night celebrity arrivals, including theatre legends Joel Grey and Chita Rivera, Broadway favorites Jonathan Groff and Sutton Foster, and the company of New York, New York.
Colton Ryan and Anna Uzele lead the cast as Jimmy Doyle and Francine Evans, respectively, along with Clyde Alves as Tommy Caggiano, John Clay III as Jesse Webb, Janet Dacal as Sofia Diaz, Ben Davis as Gordon Kendrick, Oliver Prose as Alex Mann, Angel Sigala as Mateo Diaz, and Emily Skinner as Madame Veltri.
The ensemble includes Wendi Bergamini, Allison Blackwell, Giovanni Bonaventura, Jim Borstelmann, Kristine Covillo, Gabriella Enriquez, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Richard Gatta, Stephen Hanna, Naomi Kakuk, Kevin Ligon, Leo Moctezuma, Dayna Marie Quincy, Julian Ramos, Drew Redington, Benjamin Rivera, Jeff Williams, and Darius Wright. Rounding out the company are swings Lauren Carr, Bryan J. Cortés, Haley Fish, Akina Kitazawa, Ian Liberto, Aaron Nicholas Patterson, and Davis Wayne; and standbys Vanessa Sears, Mike Cefalo, and Alex Prakken.
Sam Davis leads the music team as music supervisor and arrangements, with orchestrations by Daryl Waters and Davis, vocal arrangements by David Loud, music direction by Alvin Hough, Jr., and music coordination by Kristy Norter.
The production features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Donna Zakowska, lighting design by Ken Billington, sound design by Kai Harada, projection design by Christopher Ashand Boritt, hair and wig design by Sabana Majeed, and makeup design by Michael Clifton. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Jason Thinger, with Johnny Milani serving as production stage manager. Spanish translations and additional text are by Michael León.