Broadway shut down on Mar 12, 2021.
And while the world is continuing to shift and change in ways that we could have never imagined, life is going on as concerts and events and restaurants are all pretty much now open. And finally, we can finally say the same for Broadway. Well, for one show on Broadway.
Last week, I had the chance to experience with a vaxxed and masked audience at the August Wilson Theater to see Pass Over. The buzz was palpable from the hallway to getting overpriced drinks. Even being ushered to my seats and looking through the Playbill had a new sense of weight about it. Was this really happening? Was I really back in a theater? On Broadway!?
And indeed I was. After few sips of wine through my mask, a voice came through to confirm it: “You’re one of the first audiences back in a Broadway theater,” followed by uproarious cheering and clapping. The energy was incredible. We were finally back.
Taking place in a world that mirrors this one, or perhaps a hellish version of it, Moses (Jon Michael Hill) and Kitch (Namir Smallwood) spend their days on the same block, talking about how they will Pass Over to the the promise land. The land away from violence and the police. The land of milk and honey. The land of hope. Or maybe it’s a place that doesn’t exist in this version of reality.
A mix of “Waiting for Godot” and Black Exodus, they are stopped — both emotionally and physically — by the weight of the whiteness of a cop and happy-go-luck man in white with the name Mister that had us all gasping — both at his inability to see why that’s problematic and the historic weight of bearing the meaning of that name — played both by Gabriel Ebert.
With another day on the same block, doing the same thing, Moses discovers a way to the Promise Land — but can they really ever Pass Over?
A powerful play, written by Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, goes through different genres and moods through the world of the mundane and routine as they long for something else, even if they don’t know exactly what that is.
A poetic play filled with humor and profanity and truth, there was so much to digest that with questions throughout our car ride home, wondering about “what if that line meant that?” or “what do you think that line meant,” or “what was that reference to the bible?” There was so much said — and unsaid — with surrealism and humor and sadness and pain and longing that was both understandable and so complex.
And while I’m still pondering the complexity of this play, I do know that this opened up the possibility of new Broadway. A Broadway that opens up your eyes to question everything.
“Pass Over” on Broadway Details:
See the “Pass Over” at the August Wilson Theater, 52nd street
Must be vaccinated with proof of ID and masked – more info about that here.