'Today' Show Pays Homage to Broadway With Their Halloween Costumes
By Paige Gawley
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The hosts of the Todayshow are honoring Broadway! During Friday's episode of the morning show, the co-anchors celebrated Halloween a day early by paying tribute to some of the greatest theatrical shows. The sweet homage comes as Broadway has been shut down since March due to COVID-19.
Carson Daly, wearing a classic tuxedo, acted as the host for the show, explaining why he and his colleagues thought Broadway was the perfect theme for this year's costumes.
"This year we've seen the lights go down on Broadway, but that is about to change. The lights are going up and the curtain will rise on a one-of-a-kind show, in certainly a one-of-a-kind year," he said. "Many of us have been feeling down these last few months, but music is an excellent source of comfort and it's one of the few things that has been able to connect all of us, despite the distance... We are taking a moment to celebrate the stories, scores and songs that move us."
Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer were up first, dressing as Velma and Roxie, respectively, as they performed a dance from Chicago. Prior to their performance, the women received advice from Rita Wilson, who starred as Roxie in Broadway's Chicago revival.
Al Roker channeled King George III and Craig Melvin was Alexander Hamilton, as the pair lip-synced to songs including "You'll Be Back," "Alexander Hamilton," and "My Shot" from Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit musical, Hamilton.
"I was fortunate enough to be there for the premiere... a shiver went down my spine," Roker recalled of seeing the show. "I chose King George because I do feel regal. I feel I was meant to rule."
Jenna Bush Hager opted to go the feline route for her costume, performing Cats' most iconic song, "Memories," much to the delight of her daughters, Poppy, 5, and Mila, 7.
"Cats is a very special musical for me," she said. "It was the first musical we took Mila to on Broadway. My kids did try to teach me how to get into character. They really worked on my meows. Poppy told me to hiss. She taught me how to hiss."
"I did practice this song when I was taking vocal lessons in fourth grade... Fourth grade Jenna would not believe that I get to put on the real Cats leotard from the Broadway show," Hager added. "To be one of the most famous cats of all time is something I'll never forget."
The grand finale was brought by Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie, who dressed as Glinda and Elphaba from Wicked, and lip-synced to "Popular" and "Defying Gravity."
"We chose Wicked. I love the idea that you think somebody is bad, but you have to look a little deeper and maybe you'll see another side. Hoda's my girl! I'm her Elphaba, she's my Glinda," Guthrie said. "I really wanted to be the Wicked Witch. I'm a little nervous about the green face. If I'm totally honest, I think my kids will be terrified."
"I have never, ever been a princess-y, pretty Halloween costume kind of person," Kotb admitted. "To be Glinda the Good Witch, is pretty amazing because you picture that dress on Broadway. You picture it spinning around. You picture Glinda walking through. You picture all of it."
When it came time for Broadway's original Elphaba to give Gurthie advice on her performance, Idina Menzel said the role is "really about learning to harness my own power as a woman and to not be afraid of my ferocity."
Following their performances, ET's Rachel Smith spoke to Hager and Kotb about the epic episode.
"We had so much fun. This was one of those weird ones that came together so late that we're like, 'Is it going to work?'" Kotb said. "And literally each person got a different look in their eye before they went on. I saw Jenna before she took the stage, she was like, 'Get out of my way.'"
Getting the show put together, Kotb said, was possible thanks to "a bunch of people from Broadway."
"We were trying to figure out what would be a good theme and we didn't want it to be too frivolous," she said. "But we realized Broadway needed us, and we need Broadway, so we did this little thing."
"It's the heart of New York City," Hager added of Broadway. "People travel from all over to come to see these incredible actors. Right now, it's something like 87,000 people that aren't working, so we were like, let's get dressed up, let's pay tribute, and let's also raise awareness for these organizations that are trying to help these actors and makeup artists and costume designers."
The TV personalities even sported actual Broadway costumes during the show.
"A lot of these Broadway costume houses are competitive because they work with different theaters. On this day, every single one came together," Kotb praised. "They're like, 'What can we do to help? What can we do? Yes, you can wear it. Yes, yes, yes.' They were happy to be back to work for a day or so to help us pick our costumes."
While the episode went off without a hitch, the Today show team did miss having a live studio audience there.
"We miss the plaza. We miss the people that come from all over to be part of our show," Hager said. "... But Hoda said this earlier and it's so true, we could've just said, 'Halloween isn't going to happen this year,' but we wanted to smile and we want to make people smile. We know that those same people that would be here to celebrate Halloween in New York City are watching from home. Next year hopefully it will be here."
As for their Halloween plans this year, both Kotb and Hager said they'd be spending time with their families.
"We walk around our block, we look at all the decorations, my mom's in town, Joel, me, the girls, some good friends of ours, and we are gonna walk as our little pod together and that's it," Kotb said of her fiance, Joel Schiffman, and their daughters, Haley, 3, and Hope, 1. "And then we're gonna do, like, a scavenger hunt in the apartment. The kids won't know, like, what the difference is. They're gonna be on their sugar high and we're gonna be throwing back cocktails."
"We're gonna do the same thing. We're gonna be together with my family, with our kids, they're gonna get dressed up, we're gonna throw some candies," Hager said of her kids, who plan to dress up as Anna, Elsa and Sven from Frozen.