Broadway icons Sharon D Clarke of “Carolina, or Change,” joined by Michael Urie from “Chicken and Biscuits” and Ron Cephas Jones from “Clyde’s” for the Storytellers Panel. Part of the Variety Legit!: The Return to Broadway program, presented by City National Bank, the trio discussed show openings, the recent Tony Awards as well as life during and after the pandemic for a working actor with Variety host Gordon Cox.

Clarke described the feeling of returning to the stage after such a long layoff fur to the pandemic, “It’s a joy.” The actor spoke about the journey of “Carolina” from Chichester in England to the West End and now Broadway. Working with different casts over the years has allowed her to discover different parts of her character that she never knew existed.

Cephas echoed Clarke’s excitement. “It’s hard to describe at the moment,” Cephas Jones shared. “The thing that I found so profound is how everyone came together to fight this disease or this epidemic so that we could come back together. The evening of the Tony’s was a great example of how you saw the culmination of everyone’s hard work, everyone from behind the scenes, to the drivers, to just everybody, how all of it came together because we were so wanting to get back to bringing life back to back to the theater… it’s very overwhelming but it shows how much we can accomplish when we pull ourselves together.” The actor continued saying he felt blessed just to be sitting on that stage with his “comrades.”

Urie’s show “Chicken and Biscuits” just opened, and with it the Broadway debut of 30 new people on stage and off. He spoke proudly about his director, Zhailon Levingston, who happens to be the youngest black director in Broadway history as well as the second-youngest director in Broadway history (behind Orson Welles). “It has been the most joyful rehearsal and performance experience that I feel like I’ve ever,” Urie said. “Which I think a lot of it has to do with coming back, the overwhelming sensation of being back but it’s also the material. This is a play when people are kind to one another, the audience applauded.”

Actors all go through ups and downs, but the lesson all three spoke about was the idea that you have to just keep going forward, even if a pandemic threatens to end all your hard work. As Urie said, “People are nervous, but the sense of joy and fellowship is bleeding out onto the street.”

Watch the full conversation above.