October 29, 2020

Broadway Will Remain Closed at Least Through May

Broadway is not only the pinnacle — and best-paying workplace — of the American theatrical landscape, but it is also big business, or at least it was. In 2019, the industry’s theaters drew 14.6 million theatergoers and sold $1.8 billion worth of tickets. This year, the grosses are likely to be a tiny fraction of that amount, since theaters were only open for 10 weeks at a time of year when attendance is usually soft.

Although television and film production are resuming, the performing arts remain almost completely shut down, at least at the professional level, in New York and throughout much of the nation.

The Metropolitan Opera announced last month that it would remain dark until next September. And even before that announcement, some theaters had already made the same decision: a few days before the Met announcement, Trinity Rep in Providence said it would delay in-person productions until next fall, while Hartford Stage, in Connecticut, had taken the same step in July.

Theaters have been reopening more rapidly in Europe, although with social distancing, which Broadway producers say is not economically feasible here. Broadway faces multiple challenges to reopening during the pandemic: its public and backstage spaces are cramped, its audience is heavily dependent on tourists, and producers need to sell a lot of tickets to recoup their costs, making reduced capacity an economic nonstarter.

St. Martin said it is not realistic to expect that Broadway will wait for everyone to be vaccinated before reopening, given public skepticism about vaccines.

Instead, she said, “there has to be a medical or scientific change. We’re hoping for complete reliability of rapid testing, combined with other medical or scientific enhancements for the audience and the cast and crew. Many products are being tested which are promising, and a combination of those would bring us back. And yes, we’d love a vaccine.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/09/theater/broadway-reopening.html

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