Kander and Ebb writing team's final show, 'The Visit', opens tonight.
Tonight the curtain comes down on the current Broadway season, and what a season it has been. More people have seen a Broadway show this year than have attended all of New York City's professional sports teams' home games combined. Broadway, one of this city's great beacons, has come to represent everything glamorous and exciting about New York and show business the world over.
My first Broadway opening was 50 years ago (almost to the day), when I starred inFlora, The Red Menace, for which I won my first Tony Award. That show also marked the first collaboration between the writing team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, whom I would go on to work with throughout my career. The work of these two theatrical giants, from Cabaret to Chicago, would come to shape and define the careers of an entire generation of theater artists.
Tonight also marks the opening night of Kander and Ebb's very last show. Starring the incomparable Chita Rivera, The Visit represents the final moment in one of the most remarkable ongoing collaborations in the history of the theater. To give you an idea of the kind of impact they have had, at least one Kander and Ebb show has been running on Broadway during 41 of the last 50 years. This year alone, there have been three.
Their work will live on in revivals until the end of time, of course, but the thrill and privilege of hearing their words and music sung out loud for the first time is singular. But like all that is wonderful and special about the theater, that thrill and privilege is all too fleeting.
I've always said that Broadway is the beating heart of New York City,and Kander and Ebb have been at its very center since our collaborative debut in 1965.
And, if Broadway is its beating heart, the lifeblood pumping through New York's veins is made up of giant ambition and great aspiration -- not just of the thousands of theater professionals who make up Broadway itself, but of anybody who chooses to make a life here. How fitting that my friends John and Fred summed this up perfectly in their iconic love letter to this town:
If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere
C'mon come through
New York, New York
New Haven's Shubert Theater in 1965 featured a world premiere of Kander and Ebb's "Flora the Red Menace," featuring Liza Minnelli.