Broadway is reeling from the Omicron disaster.
The new musical “Mrs. Doubtfire,” based on the film, is going on a 9 week hiatus to save itself from closing completely. It was announced just before midnight last night that the show, which has mixed reviews, will re-open in March.
Meantime, I can tell you that just from looking at its Ticketmaster seat maps, “MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical” will have to do something similar if it expects ever to open on Broadway. Right now, the Neil Simon Theater is 80% unsold going into January. Two shows, on Wednesday night, January 19th, and the following Wednesday, the 26th, have already been canceled due to lack of sales.
“MJ” is supposed to open February 1st, but right now shows on January 31st and February 2nd are almsot completely unsold. Michael Jackson fans will freak out when they read this, but this news has nothing to do with Jackson, his reputation, or the media. It’s all about Broadway theatergoers not being ready to return to theaters until the pandemic is resolved.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” and “MJ” aren’t the only shows in trouble. In London, Andrew Lloyd Weber has shut down his “Cinderella.” In Toronto, “Come from Away” has stopped. In Los Angeles, “Hamilton” is taking the month of January off. In New York, there will be other shutdowns as Omicron and COVID ravage the month and maybe even February. The whole thing stinks. Even now, “The Music Man” — the hottest new hit — is on a break until later this week.
It’s going to a winter of tremendous discontent for the performing arts. For shows to go on hiatus and hope to return, they’re going to need government bail out money immediately. The closing of a show like “Mrs. Doubtfire” means 115 people are laid off from the show itself. But that doesn’t calculate what happens to outside vendors who depend on the show’s daily running, or the restaurants and businesses in theater district.