It was a landmark event for Broadway--and it took place four states away from the nearest New York stage. On October 11, 2009, equal rights advocacy group Broadway Impact paired with over a dozen sponsors and hundreds of activists to join The National Equality March in Washington, D.C., busing fans, supporters and members of the theater community to the country's capital for the largest gay rights event in nearly a decade. Leading the Rialto's tide of activists marching for equal civil and marital rights was an apt band of Broadway representatives: the cast of the Tony-winning Hair revival.
At the head of the hippie band was Tony-nominated leading man Gavin Creel, co-creator of Broadway Impact and the mind Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis credits with Hair historically shutting its doors to participate in the event. "I told him he was crazy," Eustis told Broadway.com of Creel's original proposal. "I explained we couldn't possibly cancel a show on a holiday weekend and lose that much money. But within half an hour we all began to think, 'We should do this.'”
It was to be a day of many memorable moments. As thousands of marchers assembled, a rainbow appeared in the sky, prompting cheers from attendees. Former Broadway flames Kristin Chenoweth and Marc Kudisch partnered to walk arm in arm alongside stage veterans like Kate Shindle and Julia Murney. Tony-nominated Spring Awakening heartthrob Jonathan Groff, reunited with the cast of Hair, took the day's opportunity to tell Broadway.com he is gay and proud. Tony winner Cynthia Nixon wrapped pop star Lady Gaga in a celebratory hug. And the Hair tribe turned their art into real life, performing the call-to-action anthem "The Flesh Failures (Let the Sun Shine In)" under blinding sun in front of the Capitol building.
Broadway.com followed the community throughout the day, documenting Hair's journey both in photos and in the words of the participants themselves. Click through for an on-the-scene look at a what happened in D.C.
Reporting by Kimberly Kaye