Yesterday, the Obama family welcomed Broadway to the White house in an event hosted by Nathan Lane, which featured performances by Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald and Brian d’Arcy James, among others. The President opened the event with a reflection on musical theatre’s national significance:
“Now there’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music….It’s one of the few genres of music that can inspire the same passion in an eight-year-old that it can an 80-year-old — and make them both want to get up and dance….In many ways, the story of Broadway is also intertwined with the story of America. Some of the greatest singers and songwriters Broadway has ever known came to this country on a boat with nothing more than an idea in their head and a song in their heart. And they succeeded the same way that so many immigrants have succeeded — through talent and hard work and sheer determination. Over the years, musicals have also been at the forefront of our social consciousness, challenging stereotypes, shaping our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics. But perhaps the most American part of this truly American art form is its optimism. Broadway music calls us to see the best in ourselves and in the world around us — to believe that no matter how hopeless things may seem, the nice guy can still get the girl, the hero can still triumph over evil, and a brighter day can be waiting just around the bend.”
The event was taped and will be broadcast on PBS on October 20, 2010.