Broadway will have to keep its doors closed for two more months than originally planned.
In March, the Great White Way went quiet when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned gatherings of more than 500 people across the state due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Broadway League announced that the shutdown would last for a month, opening back up on April 12. However, the league announced on Wednesday that the reopening date would be pushed back by two months, closing all theaters through June 7.
In a statement, League president Charlotte St. Martin said that the league’s top priority is the well-being of Broadway theatergoers, as well as the thousands of people who work in the industry, including actors, musicians, ushers, stagehands, and more.
“Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theater professionals and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theater together,” Martin said.
The decision was made this week following reports of the rising death toll in New York. Already, the death toll has reached more than 5,500, which has doubled in just three days. The state also registered as the highest number of deaths in a single day since the crisis first began, killing more than 700 people in just one day. In total, the coronavirus death toll in the state has reached a higher number of deaths than the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks in the city back in 2001.
Nonetheless, Cuomo was among governors in the nation that noted the virus numbers will begin to plateau due to social distancing protocols. He pointed to the slowing rates of hospitalizations, intensive care admissions and ventilator intubations. The tri-state area has been hit the hardest with highest-one day totals across the U.S., however, all three governors said there were signs that the virus’s spread was slowing.
At this point, ticketing companies have begun to refund Broadway tickets. TodayTix began offering refunds or vouchers for 110% of the ticket cost to a postponed show, while Broadway.com has been offering customers the option to refund the ticket or donate that cost of the ticket to support artists that are out of work during the pandemic.
It’s evident that coronavirus will leave its toll on the industry. Before the virus began to take over the city, Broadway was heading into its busy spring season. More than 16 productions were slated to open before the April 23 cutoff for Tony Awards eligibility. However, the awards show has been postponed, with other theater honors like the Drama Desks planning to hold virtual ceremonies.
Two shows that began previews – Hangmen and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – will not reopen following the suspension. Other scheduled spring openings have not announced whether or not they will reopen at this time. One musical, Beetlejuice, was slated to close at the Winter Garden Theatre to make way for The Music Man. However, the show, which brought in nearly $1 million a week, will no longer reopen following the closure, and could potentially open at another theater to recoup the time that has been lost.
During the three-month closure, The Hollywood Reporter notes that the box office will lose around $500 million. This number could push above $1 billion when considering the theater-district businesses that thrive during a normal season. The industry will be hit hard by the pandemic, falling behind the concert industry, which will likely lose $9 billion in revenue.
People within the Broadway industry are doing whatever they can to help those in need. Javier Munoz of Broadway’s Hamilton has united a group of volunteers as a part of the Broadway Relief Project including seamstresses, actors, and others in the community to help create 10 million surgical gowns to give to hospitals across the city.
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