10 Essential Broadway Musical Thanksgiving Day Performances
November 21st, 2018
by Josh Ferri
This year for the 2018 Thanksgiving Day Parade, Broadway will be represented with musical performances from The Prom, Mean Girls, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, and My Fair Lady. The parade’s musical numbers are as essential to Thanksgiving as pie or stuffing! anticipation of a fresh new batch of videos, BroadwayBox looks back on 10 essential Thanksgiving Day performances.
10. “Pinball Wizard”, The Who’s Tommy, 1993
Revive Tommy. That’s all.
9. “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, Thoroughly Modern Millie, 2002
Big sigh for low-def TV, but even that can’t dim Sutton Foster’s star quality and the joy of this opening number.
8. “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats” & “Memory”, Cats, 2016
I can sense the eye-roll but these kitties kill it. They are all athletes; ALW wrote a major earworm with that opening; but, most importantly, it’s the intro to Mamie Parris’ one-breath “Memory” and that is legend-t (with a t!). When the camera catches her from above as she belts (2:50). Your favorite would and could never.
7. “Shaking the Blues Away” from Holiday Inn (2016) and “Little Shop of Horrors/Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors (2003)
I couldn’t choose between Denis Jones’ dance extravaganza—those jump ropes, hello!?! —and the vocal pyrotechnics performed by DeQuina Moore, Trisha Jeffrey, Carla J Hargrove, Hunter Foster and, of course, Kerry Butler. Killer dance or vocals that slay? There’s no easy choice, so you get both.
6. “Footloose”, Footloose, 1999
Young Jeremy Kushnier in his B’way debut, this athletic A.C. Ciulla choreo, and that fierce style of belting that was all the rage then—no wonder this clip is cannon for theatre kids in the late ‘90s.
5. “Brotherhood of Man”, How to $ucceed, 1995
When Lillias White and her Miss Jones get her life, I get mine. The guys look and sound great (Broderick is super adorbs), but this is her show. 3:35 to the end is what I’m thankful for this year and every year.
4. “Before the Parade Passes By”, Hello, Dolly!, 1999
Nothing but respect for OG Dolly.
3. “Raise You Up/Just be”, Kinky Boots, 2013
Let’s be clear, this is essential for Billy Porter’s Doctor Zhivago-realness moment in the white faux fur that is not part of the Broadway musical but is part of this epic clip. Also, bringing this message by this group of people into America’s living rooms on Thanksgiving morning is what theatre is about. I wish NBC or FOX would do Kinky Boots Live! so everyone can get this show right now.
2. “King of New York”, Newsies, 2011
Who can ever forget seeing Kara Lindsay and her dancing news boys on that parade?? The show had played Paper Mill but hadn’t reached Broadway yet and this was the first slice of heaven that they offered to fans, and boy did it deliver. That Tony-winning Christopher Gattelli choreo. Controversial, but this is my favorite video from the Broadway production of Newsies.
1. “Once Upon a Time”, Brooklyn, 2004
Honestly, there's so much to love about this clip: the wind in Eden Espinosa’s hair like a fan on a Mariah Carey album shoot, or the insane high notes flying out her mouth at God knows what hour in the morning outside under a bridge. The song gets cray around 2:03, it's next level at 2:39, and I'm dead and need to be resuscitated by 3:25.
Huge shout-out/thanks to BroadwayTVArchive on YouTube for preserving many of these clips.