Broadway set to officially reopen in September
Many details still need to be sorted out, but as New York state prepares to ease most COVID restrictions, Broadway's return is on the books.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. One of the first major indications that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be a game-changing emergency in the United States came on March 12, 2020, when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered Broadway theaters to shut down. At the time, theaters were optimistic they would be able to reopen a month later, but we all know that's not what happened. But with vaccination rates rising in America and COVID-19 infection numbers finally falling, the time has come for Broadway's return.
Pop-up shows have begun in Broadway theaters, but now official productions have a timeline to restart. To be clear, theaters will need quite a bit of time to get their casts in order, start rehearsals, and prepare to fill seats again. Social distancing rules aren't going to cut it for Broadway shows, which already lose money a lot of the time. So while Cuomo has announced most of the state's COVID-19 restrictions will ease by mid-May, an even more optimistic prediction than New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's preparation to fully open up by July, Broadway is aiming to return starting Sept. 14.
"We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo clearly recognizes the impact of Broadway's return on the city and state's economy and the complexity of restarting an entire industry that has been dormant for over a year," Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement. "Nothing beats Broadway. The theatre owners, producers, and other League members will continue to work with the NY State Department of Health and the Governor to coordinate the industry's return and the related health and safety protocols required to do so. We remain cautiously optimistic about Broadway's ability to resume performances this fall and are happy that fans can start buying tickets again."
There is no ticketing information available yet; specific return dates will be announced in the coming weeks on a show-by-show basis. According to the New York Times, big-ticket productions like Hamilton, The Lion King, and Wicked are expected to announce a mid-September return soon, while Harry Potter and the Cursed Child likely won't make a comeback until 2022 after re-evaluating its length and structure.
There will also be plenty of new productions to see. Six, the musical about the wives of Harry VIII, was supposed to open on March 12, the very day Broadway closed. Now it will finally be able to have its moment in the spotlight. In the wake of last summer's racial justice protests, there will also be a plethora of new plays by Black writers, including Keenan Scott II's Thoughts of a Colored Man, about a single day in the life of seven Black men in Brooklyn; Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu's Pass Over, about two Black men trapped by existential dread in a society where too many Black people are killed by police; and Ruben Santiago-Hudson's one-man show Lackawanna Blues.
There's much more information left to be announced and clarified, but for now, Broadway fans can take some solace that they can start planning an eventual return to the theater.