Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager put on the show of a lifetime during Today’s Broadway-inspired Halloween extravaganza on Friday — and their biggest fans are their children.
The co-stars opened up about what their little ones think of their while revealing how they plan on safely celebrating the spooky holiday with their families amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jenna, who dressed as Grizabella from the long-running show Cats for her Broadway tribute, told DailyMail.com that her daughters Mila, seven, and Poppy, five, helped her get into character.
Surprise! The Today cast paid tribute to Broadway on Friday’s Halloween special, with Hoda Kotb dressing as Glinda from Wicked and Jenna Bugh Hager going as Grizabella from Cats
Family fun: Hoda, 56, told DailyMail.com that her daughters Haley, three, and Hope, one, were in school during the live show, but she TiVoed the performance so they can watch it together
‘I FaceTimed my girls. We got to do a little tutorial. They gave me the best way to be a cat,’ she explained.
‘Instead of doing “M-E-O-W,” they do like “M-R-O,”‘ Hoda, 56, said, imitating Mila and Poppy’s unique cat impressions.
The Halloween costumes are something the former first daughter’s children look forward to, and she understands why.
‘Our kids, I think they think it’s so magical what we get to do, and we agree,’ Jenna, 38, said. ‘It’s so much fun to dress up like these people.’
Hoda, who is mom to daughters Haley, three, and Hope, one, said her daughters haven’t seen her Glinda costume from Wicked yet because they were in school during the live show.
‘When I get home, we are going to Tivo,’ she said. ‘They’re going to be like, “Who that?” That will be their initial response.’
Aww! Jenna shared that she FaceTimed her daughters Mila, seven, and Poppy, five, before her performance, and they gave her a tutorial on how to meow like a cat
Halloween season: Jenna’s daughters went to school on Friday dressed as a fairy and astronaut-queen, respectively, while her one-year-old son Hal was a deer
Hoda credited Today producer Debbie Kosofsky with coming up with the Broadway theme when they were brainstorming ideas, saying she and her colleagues are ‘always talking about’ how much they miss the theater.
‘It was funny because it kind of happened late. And you know when you are on the right track for something, and everything starts falling into place like it was meant to be? Like that’s what happened,’ she said. ‘We didn’t have costumes and then the Broadway costume people showed up.’
They both wore real costumes from their respective shows, and one of their makeup artists had a two-hour tutorial with a lead makeup artist from Cats to perfect Jenna’s look.
‘You should have seen us. We had this weird look in our eyes, everybody did before it was their turn, and it was almost like you went from a regular person on the show, and then suddenly you’re like Glinda,’ Hoda said of her transformation.
On Friday’s spectacular, the Today show honored iconic Broadway productions such as Wicked, Cats, Chicago, and more as a way to raise awareness for the theater industry, which was struck hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Broadway shut down in mid-March and is not expected to reopen until at least May 30, 2021, according to the Broadway League.
Whose that? Hoda, pictured with her co-star Savannah Guthrie, who was Elphaba from Wicked, doesn’t think her children are going to recognize her in her Glinda costume
Reopening: On Friday’s spectacular, the Today show honored iconic Broadway productions such as Wicked, Cats, Chicago, Hamilton, and more
Perfect fit: Hoda and Jenna said they are always talking about how much they miss Broadway with their colleagues
For months, organizations such as The Actors Fund, Broadway Cares, and Artist Relief have been raising money for theater casts and crew members that have been unable to earn a living due to the global crisis.
‘Hoda and I and all of us here miss Broadway,’ Jenna said. ‘It’s such the heartbeat of our city, and we realized that 30,000 plus people are not employed, so we were like, “You know what? Let’s pay tribute to a place we miss desperately.”‘
‘And, hopefully, raise a little awareness and maybe some money for some people that need it,’ she added.
Hoda and Jenna also shared the COVID-friendly plans they’ve made with their families this Halloween.
‘We are going to keep it all really basic. My mom’s in town. We all got COVID tested before she came,’ Hoda explained. ‘We’re all dressing up like Sesame Street, and we’re literally going to sing “Sunny Days” and world class university walk around the block.’
‘We’re hiding some little pumpkins filled with candy around the apartment. We have a whole bunch of stickers and we have a couple of games and maybe we’ll catch a movie,’ the mom of two added. ‘We’ve heard Monsters Inc. is the one we might need to watch. And then that’s it.’
Plans: Hoda, pictured last Halloween, said her family is going dress up as Sesame Street characters and look for candy that she hid in little pumpkins throughout their apartment
Looking back: Hoda, pictured with her mom and daughters, said her children remind her how ‘exciting’ Halloween was when she was a kid
Jenna noted that this Halloween will be just as special as the years past because her family will be together.
‘It won’t look exactly like last Halloween, but I think anything we have learned in 2020 is that if we pair things down and they’re more simple, as long as you’re with the people that you love, it’s going to be good,’ she said.
Jenna, who also has a one-year-old son Hal, usually goes trick-or-treating with her co-star Savannah Guthrie and her children Vale, six, and Charley, three, but that’s not in the cards this year.
‘That is the tradition we normally do, but this year we’re not trick-or-treating,’ she explained. ‘We might have a little playdate, but I don’t know. It’s so sad. That tradition might be off for 2020.’
Jenna and Hoda both shared that their children have been seeing pictures of them without protective face masks in previous years and are wondering why.
‘My kids saw the Halloween pictures from last year, and they said, “But, Mommy, why weren’t we wearing masks?”‘ Jenna said. ‘And I’m just like, “Oh my gosh because there was life before this” — and there will be life after.’
Staying safe: Jenna said she and her children, pictured last Halloween, won’t be going trick-or-treating this year because of COVID-19, but she knows it will still be a special day
Tradition: Jenna and her family usually go trick-or-treating with her co-star Savannah and her children Vale, six, and Charley, three, so they might try to have a playdate instead
This year marks Hoda’s third Halloween as a mom, and she’s noticed that her daughters’ joy over the holiday has her reminiscing about her own childhood.
‘I think it’s funny that you’re remembering what it was like to be a kid because every time I am with them, I keep thinking, “I remember how exciting Halloween night was and what a thrill it was,”‘ she said.
Hoda noted that she never got more Halloween candy in her life than when she dressed as a voting booth ahead of the 1976 presidential election.
At the time, Democrat Jimmy Carter was running against incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford.
‘I just put a box on and cut two holes and I wore like an Uncle Sam hat,’ she recalled. ‘I said, “Carter or Ford?” and literally people put fistfuls of candy in each one of the candidate’s boxes. And I was thinking to myself, “This is the best costume I ever thought of.”‘
With the 2020 presidential election just days away, Jenna suggested that Hoda ‘bring that baby out this Halloween.’
‘I’m not quite sure it would go over as well,’ Hoda joked.