If you are a true thespian, you may be chomping at the bit to find out what shows will be returning to Broadway later this year. Since March 2020, the “Great White Way” in New York City and in major theater cities across the country have been dealing with the repercussions of a theater industry shuttered due to COVID-19.
Can theater-lovers breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the light is truly at the end of the tunnel? Read on to find out what we know about the reopening of the theater industry across the country.
A Look Back…
It’s been a full year since the lights went dark on the marquees of all 41 theaters in Midtown. Actors left their scripts, street clothes, and personal items in dressing rooms across the Broadway district in the hopes that the shows would open in a few weeks. We know that didn’t happen as hoped.
Looking back at that hopefulness seems so naive now. There are so many questions about what it will be like once the theater industry does open back up again. First among them is, “What shows will return?” Along with, “What will audiences look like?” and “How will theater continue on while still remaining safe for actors and audience members alike?”
We don’t have the answers to all the questions quite yet, but we do know what a few of the producers, directors, and members of the Actor’s Associations think from a comprehensive interview in the Broadway news site “Deadline” online.
What Will Audiences Be Like?
The general consensus is that, even in the first six months after theaters open their doors again, that tourists will not be the main source of audience members. Rather, locals within each major city will be the first to revitalize the industry. Therefore, don’t anticipate having a grand reopening. Instead think about soft openings that will have small audiences, potentially made up of healthcare workers who could enjoy a show as a “thank you” from the people of the city.
When Will Things Open Again?
While there are no hard-and-fast rules set out yet for theater reopenings, Kevin McCollum, Broadway producer of the musical Six, which was scheduled to open on the night of the Broadway shutdown, and Mrs. Doubtfire, which was in previews, believes that late summer 2021 is a possibility for a reopening date.
The problem lies in preparations. When the governor of each state gives the final go-ahead for business and restaurants in the theater industry to open once again, there will be a lag time of about 6-8 weeks for shows to practice and ready themselves for opening night.
Charlotte St. Martin, the President of the Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway industry representing theater owners and operators, producers, presenters and general managers, expects that masks will be worn during the show and especially during the ingress and egress. Intermissions may be a tricky thing to work since many theatergoers may need a mask break but there will need to be a system to handle that situation. This is yet another thing that will need to be fingered out prior to opening.
Logistically, there will be lots to examine before Broadway can shine its light again. We will continue to monitor what shows will remain closed and which new shows may make an appearance this year.