With COVID-19 coronavirus still limiting large group gatherings, Broadway officials in New York, have decided to keep theaters closed through the remainder of 2020 and then some.
Broadway has been a cornerstone for musical theater. Even those with no interest in musicals know the fame and bright lights of Broadway. With the coronavirus still ravaging New York, The Broadway League, the musical theaters’ governing body over Broadway shows, said theaters will remain closed until June 2021.
During the league’s initial shutdown on March 12, they stressed that this type of extended closure might happen and that theaters would open when it was deemed safe. The initial shutdown was supposed only to last a month. Thirty-one shows were running when everything shut down, with several new performances in the preview stages.
The Broadway Leagues’ decision does not come easy. It left many performers unemployed until they can safely return to work. Many seasoned Broadway performers have turned to teaching Zoom classes or doing digital performances to keep their own lights on.
There are 97,000 jobs attached to Broadway, according to Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League. With many relying on the charity of others to get by right now.
New York is cautious about fully reopening, especially in areas that draw high-volumes of tourists.
Broadway itself is not ready to safely social distance even if it reopened. Many of the theaters feature narrow aisles and close seating, with an already limited seating capacity. A majority of those who attend Broadway musicals are over 65: a demographic at a large risk. There are also the problems with performers and stage crew coming and going each day and performing in front of large open crowds. If performers and stage directors got the OK tomorrow, then it would still take several months to get a show-up and running.
With all these difficulties, it may seem that there are no bright lights on Broadway right now, but there are those trying to make the wait a little less bleak for performers and audiences alike.
Although there is no replacement for live theater for audiences, there have been multiple-stage recordings released this year for those stuck at home to enjoy. Shows like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” getting a release on Disney+ earlier this year and Stephen Spielberg’s film adaptation of “West Side Story” that comes out in December.
“The Actors Fund” has raised money in conjunction with “Broadway Cares” to help those working on Broadway and others in the entertainment business through donations and fundraisers. These organizations are doing their best but it is up to us, the audience, to be there when the lights turn on, and the curtain rises once again.