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Curtain Up!, Broadway in Bryant Park and the Little Island Dance Festival celebrate the return of in-person performances
Cue the audience—in-person theatre has returned! By the end of September, 16 shows will be playing on Broadway. If you're not sure what to see, there are some outdoor festivals this month where you can catch sneak peeks of various Broadway productions, as well as one-off performances by stage and dance stars. Best of all, most of these events are FREE with no tickets required. Just show up and enjoy.
Little Island, Pier 55 in Hudson River Park between 13th and 14th Streets
Wednesday, September 15 to Sunday, September 19 at various times. Most events are FREE, a handful are $25 to $65. Browse the complete schedule
Acclaimed tapper Ayodele Casel and her longtime collaborator Torya Beard curated this four-day dance fest featuring a slew of movers and shakers. It's an eclectic lineup of different styles, including ballroom, jazz, tap and break dancing, as well as Indian and African dance. Many of the performances are free with no tickets required, though you still need to make a timed entry reservation to access Little Island after noon on weekends. The ticketed events cost $25 to $65 and include Ayodele & Friends on Thursday, September 16; lauded Brooklyn troupe Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE on Friday, September 17; a Celebration of National Dance Day featuring new works choreographed by Josh Prince, Ray Mercer, Darrell Moultrie and Tiffany Rea-Fisher on Saturday, September 18; and They Got Next: The Next Generation of Dance Leaders on Sunday, September 19. Little Island boasts three performance spaces, gorgeous greenery and stunning Hudson River views. If you haven't visited yet, this is the perfect excuse to shimmy on over. Note: Unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks when they cannot social distance.
The Cube at Astor Place, 8th and Lafayette Streets
Friday, September 17 at 6 p.m. FREE
Every summer on one special Friday evening, alt-cabaret mecca Joe's Pub puts on a show right outside The Public Theater on Astor Place. This annual event feels even more joyous this year, now that we're finally emerging from isolation. A Strange Loop star Larry Owens and composer-musician Henry Koperski cohost this rollicking, anything-goes evening featuring performances by vocalists Shayna Blass and Kathryn Allison; comedians Kiko Soiree, Arti Gollapudi, Sophie Santos, Sydnee Washington and Peter Smith; and other downtown divas.
Times Square between 45th and 48th Streets
Friday, September 17 to Sunday, September 19 at various times. FREE. Browse the complete schedule.
Just in case you haven't gotten the message that Broadway is back, Playbill is partnering with The Broadway League and the Times Square Alliance for Curtain Up!, a three-day festival featuring 22 free events for theatre fans. Seven stages (many with corporate branding—it is showbiz after all) host a wide variety of offerings, including performances, sing-alongs, diversity panels, even musical-themed workouts. If you're looking for star power, your best bets on Friday, September are: the Official Curtain Up! Kick-Off at noon featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Wicked's Jessica Vosk; The Playbill Variety Show at 3:30 p.m. with special guest Joshua Henry and The Jimmy Awards Reunion Concert! at 5:30 p.m. hosted by Jelani Alladin from Frozen. Saturday, September 18's highlights include ¡Viva! Broadway When We See Ourselves Concert at 5 p.m. starring Daphne Rubin-Vega, Robin de Jesús and Bianca Marroquín. And Sunday, September 19's main event is Curtain Up: This is Broadway! Finale Concert at 11 a.m. featuring numbers from a bunch of Broadway shows, including Ain't Too Proud, Aladdin, Caroline, or Change, Chicago, Come From Away, Company, Dear Evan Hansen, Diana, Girl From the North County, Hadestown, Jagged Little Pill, The Lion King, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Phantom of the Opera, SIX, Tina, Waitress and Wicked. All that said, we suspect there will be lots of surprise performances by stars who pop by the The Playbill Piano Bar throughout the weekend. End each day at our Times Square TKTS Discount Ticket Booth to see what we're selling!
The Lawn at Bryant Park, 40th to 42nd Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Thursday, September 23 at 11 a.m. FREE
Before the pandemic, the Broadway at Bryant Park series was a rite of summer for theatre lovers, with a different lineup of Broadway shows performing songs once a week at lunchtime on the green space's stage. Although it's been reduced to just one day this year, we'll take it! Mrs. Doubtfire star Rob McClure and Myles Frost, who's poised to make his Broadway debut this season as Michael Jackson in MJ The Musical, cohost this epic one-time-only concert. Enjoy numbers from Aladdin, Caroline, or Change, Chicago, Diana: The Musical, Girl From the North Country, SIX, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Waitress and other productions while you picnic on the grass and remind yourself how lucky you are to be in NYC. Note: To sit in certain areas, you need to provide proof of full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. There's also unvaccinated seating.
Top image: A prior edition of Broadway in Bryant Park. Photo courtesy of the Bryant Park Corporation.
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