The novel Coronavirus has all of us reeling. From the hoarding of toilet paper, to learning how to work remotely, to understanding the importance of social distancing, we all have a lot to absorb. Normal everyday things become acts that could make us all vulnerable. Going to the store, hugging a friend, and doing our jobs, have all come to a grinding halt here and across the globe.
Places that are symbols of hope and resiliency, like New York City’s Theater District, are going dark for the sake of “flattening the curve” and attempting to slow the spread of the virus.
As of March 12, 2020, Broadway’s theaters went dark with current plans to stay that way for a month or until the immediate threat has passed.
The decision was made for several basic reasons. The industry faced restrictions on audience size and concern from actors and audiences about health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore the industry announced that shows will be shuttered through April 12.
While the adage, “The show must go on,” is usually synonymous with the scrappy resiliency of the theater industry. Think about it. Broadway theater has remained open through the natural disasters, depression, wars, and many dark days in our collective history. Now, for the safety and well-being of its actors and theatergoers, it has taken the drastic step to shutter their doors.
Broadway joins Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as iconic NYC art institutions that have been temporarily closed due to the overwhelming scare of the coronavirus pandemic.
The New York Times interviewed Patti LuPone, a beloved Broadway titan who has won two Tony Awards and has been performing in previews for a revival of “Company.” Her take on this was one of shock and gratitude that the theaters were closed for the health of all involved.
While this drastic move will most assuredly costs millions to the industry and potentially cause the collapse of some shows and/or theaters, the move was one that was necessary not only due to the new restrictions enacted by Governor Cuomo, but also for the common sense reason of maintaining safe distance between theatergoers and actors/crew members.
Regardless of the duration of the closings and how many theater companies will fare in the end, one thing is for certain – theater will survive this test. Patrons will need an outlet, a laugh, or to shed a tear when this virus has seen its course. While the show “can not go on” as planned right now, they will be back.