Broadway theaters extend shutdown to June in response to coronavirus pandemic
The show must go on, but it will be even longer until the lights of Broadway are up and running again.
On Wednesday, the Broadway League, a trade organization that represents Broadway producers and theater owners, announced an extension of the current shutdown in keeping with ongoing efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Theaters have been dark since March 12, with performances initially scheduled to resume on April 13, 2020. Now, shows will be officially suspended through June 7.
“Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals.” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theatre professionals, and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theatre together.”
In an interview with The New York Times, St. Martin acknowledged the shutdown could still extend further, depending on what happens in the coming months. “We’re hopeful that the restrictions will be lifted by June 7,” she said. “If they’re not, we will continue to monitor government restrictions and will advise ticket holders as soon as we know what those restrictions are.”
The shutdown began in keeping with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state measures prohibiting gatherings of more than 500 people. As a major part of New York's tourism industry and one of its biggest artistic institutions, Broadway productions rarely cancel. The last major closure was in 2016, when theaters went dark for a day because subways were shut down in the wake of a major New York City snowstorm. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 also forced theaters to shut down for four days, and in 2001 theaters closed for two days in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Many theaters also closed for 19 days in 2007 due to a stagehands' strike, and for 25 days during a musicians' strike in 1975.
The updated timeline is not a surprising development, given that London's West End has canceled all shows through May 31. April 23 was the original cutoff date for shows to be eligible for this year's Tony Awards, which were slated for June 7, but the Tony Awards have since postponed the 2020 ceremony to an undetermined future date.
Spring is typically a busy time for Broadway — this year, there were 16 openings scheduled between March 12 (when the musical Six was due to open) and April 23 (a revival of the play Take Me Out). A number of productions have already announced closures or postponements, with Martin McDonagh's Hangmen and a Laurie-Metcalf led production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? announcing they would not reopen when the shutdown ends. Other shows — including the Debra Messing-starring Birthday Candles and a revival of Caroline, or Change — have postponed their openings until the fall. Manhattan Theatre Club's production of How I Learned to Drive, with Mary-Louise Parker, has also been postponed, with plans being finalized to mount the play during the 2020-2021 season.
The extension also means the previously-announced closure of the musical adaptation of Beetlejuice — which had been scheduled for June 6 — won’t happen as planned, though it remains to be seen if the show can return at another Broadway theater to finish its run when the shutdown is lifted. (A national tour is still being planned for fall 2021.)
Ticket holders for canceled performances can contact their point of purchase for refunds and exchanges.
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