With The Good Fight’s Christine Baranski in the Ed Sullivan Theater in person for the first time since, you know, Stephen Colbert decided it was time for Broadway musical theater to return as well. As Baranski noted after accepting Colbert’s invitation to sing some classic show tunes toward the end of their interview, “This could be a historic moment.” That since the entire New York theater scene has been dark for almost two full years at this point. And, sure, Colbert’s little nightly goof-around show isn’t exactly the Gershwin Theatre or anything, but technically, Colbert’s home base is smack in the theater district, award-winning Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste is himself a Broadway impresario, and, most importantly, she’s Christine Baranski, dammit. And if a two-time Tony Award winner decides that it counts, then it counts.
Colbert, who’s already proven his Sondheim cred on Broadway (he’s no Baranski, but his performance of Company’s “Sorry-Grateful” will get you every time), was clearly delighted to match pipes with his illustrious guest as Batiste struck up the standard, “Side By Side.” Calling for an appropriately bouncy D from the happy-to-comply Batiste, Baranski busted out her decidedly not-rusty Broadway voice alongside a game but understandably overmatched Colbert. And while Baranski noted earlier in the interview that having so many New York-based Broadway actors free for the past 18 months or so has allowed The Good Fight to pack its supporting cast with the créme de la créme of her unemployed theater colleagues, she was adamant that getting those hard-singing and -dancing troupers back doing what they were born for was of primary importance.
And, sure, all that forced idleness has meant that this season’s The Good Fight gets fellow Broadway and Sondheim legend Mandy Patinkin as what she termed a “crackpot judge.” Plus, while Baranski was effusive that playing “liberal feminist lawyer” Diane Lockhart for 12 years (between The Good Wife and The Good Fight) has made her “one of the luckiest actress that’s ever lived,” Baranski truly lit up once she and Colbert unofficially reopened Broadway, in front of a crowd and everything. One note to those returning theater crowds, however—no matter how catchy the show tune in question, clapping along to the beat while a pair of Broadway performers are doing their thing is simply not done. Don’t make Ms. Baranski come over there.