UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — Broadway may not be coming back until the fall, at the earliest but a new Broadway-caliber musical with Broadway stars has just begun streaming.
“Breathe: A New Musical” had a rare, in person red carpet event at the 92nd St. Y with sequined masks and social distancing in a star-studded event. “Breathe” was conceived by best-selling novelist Jodi Picoult and playwright Timothy Allen McDonald and was written as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.
This new musical tells the story of five different relationships and how they survived or failed as the virus spread across the globe.
“It was challenging, healing, aspirational,” Jodi Picoult, the best-selling novelist, told PIX11 News. “It was very helpful we processing. We started working on it in March 2020 with Tim recovering from COVID.”
For McDonald, the play was written amid a period of grief.
“My father-in-law passed away from COVID in an assisted living home the same way one of our characters dies,” he said. “For me, it was a beautiful and sorrowful memory. He was an awesome man, Jack Kennedy, rest in peace.”
“Breathe” is told in five interlocking suites, each with a different songwriting team and director and until this premiere, many of the performers had not seen how it all came together.
“This is an opportunity to help people to let them know it’s okay and to give them a little bit of hope,” composer Douglas Lyons said.
One of the stars is Brian Stokes Mitchell, a COVID-19 survivor himself, who became even more famous by singing “The Impossible Dream” out of his Upper West Side apartment window in a tribute to healthcare workers at the height of the pandemic.
The show gave him hope.
“I have been saying, even a pandemic can’t keep artists down,” Mitchell said. “And this is proof of that.”
“Breathe: A New Musical” is premiering on Overture + and streaming for the next eight weeks through July 2, 2021. For more information, visit their website.