Broadway has been dealing with an unwelcome interloper in recent weeks, as COVID has taken center stage, to the chagrin of performers and consumers alike. Breakthrough infections of COVID-19 have caused numerous cancellations of scheduled performances, despite stringent requirements for both performers and audiences to be fully vaccinated against the virus.
“The coronavirus pandemic has upended the theater industry’s longstanding “show must go on” philosophy, supplanging it with a safety-first strategy,” writes Michael Paulson in the New York Times. “The result: a raft of cancellations unlike any in history.”
Five productions called off shows on Thursday, all citing COVID cases among their productions. “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” canceled its 7 p.m. show, “MJ the Musical” canceled its matinee and 8 p.m. show, “Hamilton” canceled its Thursday and Friday shows and “Mrs. Doubtfire” canceled all of its shows through Sunday, Dec. 19 after receiving positive COVID-19 test results within their companies, the four productions announced. Hamilton had also called off its Wednesday show previously.
The fifth- Moulin Rouge! The Musical – was a late scratch Thursday, called off while customers were already in their seats with the show about to begin, with producers telling the New York Post that “a late-in-the-day positive test result in the company” caused the abrupt halt.
Those who purchased tickets to the performances can receive refunds from their original point of purchase if they bought tickets direct from the box office. Those who purchased on ticket resale marketplaces will need to contact their point of purchase to determine their options for refund or credit good towards future purchase, depending on the policy they agreed to at the time of the sale.
The wave of cancellations caused some to recall the initial wave of the COVID pandemic, which swept through in March of 2020 and kept Broadway completely shut down for more than a year before it was able to get back underway in the summer and fall of 2021.
“Wowowow. Moulin Rouge just canceled the performance tonight while we were already sitting in our seats at curtain time due to positive Covid cases Welcome back to March 2020…,” audience member Mark Sanderlin wrote on Twitter.
Another person in attendance, filmmaker Sarah Rachael, tweeted, “Feeling March ‘20 vibes like woah.”
While many productions have had to take brief pauses over COVID cases within their ranks since Broadway reopened, the flurry of cancellations has dramatically accelerated in the past week. Just last week, The Broadway League extended its requirement for COVID vaccination to all audience members five and older, now that this cohort is eligible for vaccinations.