It was two years to the week that Broadway went dark because of COVID, but the mood on this creative arts class trip was one of celebration.
Theatres were finally back open following the pandemic shutdown, and Siena’s Broadway Theatre Experience class was in town March 11-13 to see four productions: Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite (starring real-life husband-and-wife Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker), the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s classic Company, and recent Tony Award winners Take Me Out and Come from Away.
“There was such a profound sense of joy in all of the theatres,” said Krysta Dennis, Ph.D., creative arts producer. “Historically, standing ovations are reserved for truly exceptional performances, but now, all high-quality live work is exceptional, and the audiences are really responding.”
Clearly the actors are feeling the love. The cast of Come from Away took a selfie of themselves and the audience at the end of the performance, which was coincidentally five years to the day it opened on Broadway, and two years to the day that the theatres shut down.
Seeing Come from Away was a happy fluke: the class originally had tickets for Hadestown but their performance was cancelled at the last minute, possibly due to a COVID case among the cast or crew. (Broadway personnel test daily to keep audiences and each other safe.) Dennis quickly calculated that as the musical had been playing for several years, it might be easy to get tickets on such short notice.
In addition to the performances, the 10 students had brunch with some Broadway designers who are now back to work after a long hiatus.
The course was offered at Siena for the first time in spring 2020 – the ill-fated semester when the touring company of COVID-19 shut down the world. The class ended up watching some productions online, which Dennis noted was “one of the lesser pivots” of the pandemic.
The students agreed that live and in person is definitely the way to go for an impactful theatre experience.
“It was actually my first trip to New York City, and I adored seeing Broadway stars such as Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone, and it was a bonus seeing Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick in Plaza Suite,” said Hannah Alsaadi ’24. “The city was lively and bright, and I could see why they call it the city of endless opportunity — there was something for everyone.”
“Broadway theatre was the most beautiful experience of exposure to such timeless entertainment. I was completely blown away by the plays I got to see, as well as the energy of being immersed in New York City. I look forward to taking advantage of this opportunity again in the future and spending time with such wonderful faculty.”
Jaime Cochran ’25
“I absolutely loved this class and the opportunity to get to go back to the city to see shows. Being able to see how everything has changed for Broadway since the start of the pandemic was really interesting. While there are more precautions such as wearing a mask throughout the entire show and requiring proof of vaccination, at its core Broadway is the same as it was a few years ago, focused on sharing art and stories with others.”
Ally Wait ’22