The situation on Broadway and in New York theater is now a full scale disaster.
The word is that the Broadway League will announce this morning that shows will not resume until the end of May 2021. There will be none of the planned or announced openings or resumptions of shows that had been scheduled for February through April 2021. (The announcement came at 9am.)
Even “The Music Man,” which was supposed to open in May, will wait until December 2021 for previews and a February 2022 opening.
The effect on everyone involved is catastrophic. Broadway shut down in mid March 2020. That means it will have been shuttered for more than a year– an extraordinary situation and mind boggling to the economy and culture of New York, the theater district, the thousands of people who are employed there. And this isn’t just actors, which is bad enough, but the crews, the productions, the owners of the theaters, local restaurants and businesses and on and on.
The Broadway League will argue that without a COVID vaccine it’s virtually impossible to put theatergoers back in cramped, close seating. Unlike even with restaurants, there’s no way to put in dividers between seats for the audiences. And the productions themselves, in close backstage quarters, couldn’t proceed even with masks.
Broadway is the beating heart of New York. Without it, we are bereft. But movie theaters aren’t open either. All of this adds up to a shocking loss of revenue as tourism is nil at the moment, hotels– if they’re open–are empty.
At the same time, the League has announced they will present nominations for last season’s Tony Awards on October 15th. How and when they will give Tony Awards is still a question. The shows that are eligible are a sad lot, mostly, with just a few really awardable ones having officially opened before the COVID shutdown.
What a terrible mess. We’ll wait for the official word later this morning.
PS The best musical, in previews but unopened, was “Girl from the North Country.” It’s a shame that it won’t be included in this faux Tony Awards since it was clearly the winner. Mare Winningham and the entire cast were wonderful. Of course, no one could top Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner in the “Tina!” musical. When Broadway resumes– hopefully– next summer, we’ll never forget the Lost Season of 2020.