By Ali Bauman

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s a new energy on Broadway Tuesday.

Five Broadway shows are opening, joining the three that are currently running.

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It’s curtain up on “The Lion King,” “Hamilton,” “Lackawanna Blues,” “Chicago” and “Wicked.”

As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reports, the cast of Broadway’s “The Lion King” is finally back together, 18 months after the pandemic shut down live theater.

Ahead of Broadway‘s reopening, “The Lion King” has been one of seven shows rehearsing in the New 42 Studios in Times Square, along with Disney’s “Aladdin,” which opens Sept. 28.

“Walking into the rehearsal studios… it was like part of my soul coming back,” said actor Michael James Scott.

Scott is returning in his role as the effervescent Genie.

“I was surprised at how much I did not retain. I was like. ‘Oh, I got this, I’ve been doing this,’ and, you know, we start the moment and I was like, ‘Oh gosh, what do I do?'” he said.

“You walk in off the street and there’s just a sense, there’s energy in the building,” said Russell Granet, president and CEO of New 42. “Because of the COVID protocols, we have multiple studios on a floor, but if a show comes in, they have the entire floor. So they have all the studios on whatever given floor they’re on, so it limits the number of shows that can be here.”

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When the lights went dark last March, so too did all the momentum and energy required of these actors for daily performances. Like many of us, Scott spent his sudden downtime in reflection.

“Asking myself those uncomfortable questions: Who am I when the lights of Broadway have gone down?” Scott said.

“Have you brought any of that reflection to the role as you go back?” Bauman asked.

“Yes. Actually, I think the best part for me is the perspective of what this means at this moment to be back on Broadway,” Scott said. “It is not lost on me that I am an actor of color getting to play an iconic part in the historic reopening of Broadway… I am so excited to bring all of that new fresh energy of the perspective of last year to now.”

He says it’s a fresh start for the entire cast and crew.

“We are going back to the foundation of the show,” Scott said.

You might even say it’s a whole new world.

“We’re getting to tell the story we’ve been telling for a long time, but now in a new way,” Scott said.

In these final days of rehearsal, after a long year and a half, Scott is awaiting those first chords of Aladdin’s overture.

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“I’m excited about the moment for me where the orchestra hits the down beat, and as the Genie I get to stand, and I’m the first actor the audience sees. So the curtain comes down and there’s this moment where its just me and the audience, and I’m so excited about that moment.”

Ali Bauman