Some of Broadway’s brightest stars gathered on the giant red steps in Times Square. Stars like Kate Mulgrew (“Orange is the New Black”), Sally Field (“The Glass Menagerie”), Phillipa Soo (“Hamilton”) and many, many more illuminated flashlights, lighters and phones to “light a light” of compassion for everyone in the theater community, regardless of race, sexual orientation, immigration status, and more.

Over 500 theatres across the country participated in this “Ghostlight Project,” named after the light that breaks the darkness in theaters after the stage and house lights go out.

Screencaptures > Web Videos > 2017 > 01.19 – Broadway Stars Showcase ‘Ghostlight Project’ at Times Square

Appearances & Events > 2017 > 01.19 – Broadway Stars Showcase ‘Ghostlight Project’ at Times Square

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Before Hamilton moved to Broadway, we were at the Public Theater in New York. After the opening number, “Alexander Hamilton,” I had a crossover. I had to go down the stairs and I had to change and then I had to cross over and come back up. One day while crossing over, I opened the door to the backstage stairwell space, and there was a very tall man in a suit, with one of those earpieces. It was the Secret Service. I was like, “Oh. Please be careful. Sorry, I don’t mean to run into you.” I was like, “I think there’s going to be people coming in and out. I got to go, bye.” It was such a quick, awkward exchange but I thought, Somebody is here. Somebody’s here today who’s very important. We had had some celebrities coming to the show, I assumed it was a politician, but I didn’t know who.

I had anticipated that the First Lady might come, one day, when we made it to Broadway, but downtown—at the Public Theater? It wasn’t until after the show ended that they said, “Michelle Obama’s here!” At the time I shared a dressing room with Jasmine Cephas Jones and Reneé Elise Goldsberry, my Schuyler sisters. We hurriedly got out of costume to say hello. Giddy with excitement, we made our way to the greenroom. There she stood. So poised and beautiful. She said hello to each and every one of us. I will never forget what Mrs. Obama said, “This is the best piece of art that I’ve ever seen.” I was floored. She has seen so much art in her life. Coming from her, our First Lady, the modern-day Schuyler sister incarnate, and one of the most inspirational women of our time, it was the best compliment I have ever received.

Hamilton is, of course, closely tied to the Obamas because Lin first performed the opening number at a White House poetry jam. I didn’t know anything about Eliza when I first got the call about Hamilton. Tommy Kail, the director, asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. I knew what he was talking about because I’d seen the video of Lin performing it at the White House for Barack and Michelle Obama. I specifically remember a friend showing me that YouTube clip while I was a student in drama school. Cut to five or six years later when Tommy calls me and asks me to be a part of a December reading of Act II of what was then called “Hamilton Mixtape.” I did what most people do when they don’t know something, I googled Eliza. I saw that she was his wife but there wasn’t a lot more. I just chalked it up to me being a lazy researcher. I thought, Okay. I’ll do digging later. I’ll go and see what this project is and enjoy the experience. Hearing the music for the first time was incredible. It had such an instant cool factor. But it wasn’t until I got into the room with Lin, Alex, and Tommy (I would end up working with Andy a few months later) that I truly discovered what the “Hamilton Mixtape” really was. I thought: These artists and creators that I’m working with . . . this story . . . is going to change the world. And I get to be in this room. And it changed me, too. I just didn’t know it yet.

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Center Theatre Group’s production of ‘Amélie, A New Musical’ at the Ahmanson Theatre continues through January 15, 2017. Based on the motion picture written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant, ‘Amélie, A New Musical’ will have its Broadway premiere at the Walter Kerr Theatre, beginning performances on March 9, 2017 and opening April 3, 2017.

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