Broadway stars will cast Halloween magic in I Put a Spell on You

The stars are coming out for Halloween again this year. After two years of streaming-only editions, Broadway’s frightful-delightful annual fundraising concert I Put a Spell on You will be held live again at Sony Hall on October 23—and Time Out has the exclusive scoop on this year’s first-class lineup of special guests. 

As always, Broadway’s ultra-charming Jay Armstrong Johnson (On the Town) will lead the festivities in the wigged-out guise of Hocus Pocus witch Winnifred Sanderson, hosting a wickedly talented array of performers. The roster, we have learned, will also include current Into the Woods costars Gavin Creel and Krysta Rodriguez as well as Robyn Hurder (Moulin Rouge!)Major Attaway (Aladdin), Alysha Umphress (American Idiot), Nick Rashad Burroughs (Tina!), sisters Alanna and Claire Saunders and Fire Island stars James Scully and Tomás Matos. 

Gavin Creel in I Put a Spell on You
Photograph: Courtesy of the artistGavin Creel in I Put a Spell on You

The Sony Hall performance will be the biggest iteration yet of a popular series that grew out of a 2016 release party for the album Jay Armstrong Johnson Live at Feinstein’s/54 below (which is available on Spotify). The Hocus Pocus theme expanded into what Johnson calls “a more fully realized Halloween narrative with a bunch of other iconic villains from pop culture.” For the past several years, Johnson has presented the event as a fundraiser for the very worthy Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a major supporter of the social service programs of the Entertainment Community Fund. (“I don’t own the IP of Hocus Pocus, so better to raise money for a good cause than to get a takedown notice from Disney,” Johnson jokes.)

You’ve heard of Broadway Bares? Let’s call this Broadway Scares.

Tickets start at $35, with pricier tax-deductible packages available for larger donors, and can be purchased here through the Broadway Cares website. VIP packages include a pre-show party and gift bags. 

Robyn Hurder in I Put a Spell on You
Photograph: Courtesy of the artistRobyn Hurder in I Put a Spell on You

It’s all in the spirit of spooky fun: Audience members are encouraged to wear Halloween outfits of their own, and can win prizes in a costume contest; the show is followed by a blowout dance party. Flanking Johnson as Hocus Pocus side witches Sarah and Mary Sanderson will be Allison Robinson and Amanda Williams Ware, who have been with the project since the start. “We grew up together doing theater in Texas,” Johnson says. “They’re two of my best friends on the planet and they were my backup singers for my solo show at 54 Below, so they became my Sanderson sisters. They both live in Fort Worth but they come up to New York every fall to do this show. It’s kind of our tradition to connect as friends and as artists again.” 

And if you’re not a Hocus Pocus aficionado, fear not: The concert’s performers will be done up as a wide range of baddies, from Cruella de Vil to the Joker, and their songs will include pop hits as well as standards. Creel will open the show with Halloween favorites, and series regular Hurder—just two days before she starts previews for the Neil Diamond jukebox biomusical A Beautiful Noise—will do a version of RuPaul’s “Call Me Mother” in the guise of Cinderella’s evil stepmom, Lady Tremaine. (The Saunders sisters, as her daughters, will take on Billie Eilish’s “bad guy.”) The concert is directed by Broadway triple threat Ahmad Simmons (West Side Story), who also serves as supervising choreographer; the music supervisor is Will Van Dyke. 

Dress up and prepare for an evening of treats. 

I Put a Spell on You: ALIVE at Sony Hall will take place at Sony Hall on Sunday, October 23 at 8pm. Doors open at 7:30pm. Click here for tickets

Jay Armstrong Johnson
Photograph: Courtesy Mitchell VitoJay Armstrong Johnson

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