The COVID-19 pandemic that stroke the world in 2020 had a crippling effect on every aspect of everyday life. Many countries in the world have been literally closed down, and cities with million inhabitants were turned into ghost towns. COVID-19 on Broadway led to large-scale events being prohibited which led to the closing of all Broadway shows. The social, economic, and pure entertainment aspects were devastating.
What happened up until now:
The first announcement about suspending all Broadway shows came on March 12th. The Governor of New York — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, banned gatherings of more than 500 people in one place except for schools, hospitals, and public transport. Broadway shows were allowed to operate at 50% of their capacity. The Broadway League later announced that these measures are required in order to preserve the life, health, and wellbeing of everyone involved with working on Broadway. The speculated date for the evaluation of the policy was April 12th.
By April 8th, the lockdown was extended by two more months, expected to be over by June 7th. By this moment, Broadway had lost millions of dollars and had to release thousands of employees. And this, after a pretty good season so far which was estimated to gross about $1.3 billion.
The final announcement marked the date of September 6th to be the next potential date for the return of the shows. However, most of the shows are said to have given refunds for many of their shows in September, even October. The Broadway League suggested that the shows should remain closed until the end of 2020, and will reopen in January 2021.
Performances that were affected the most
It’s a hard question, because all of them have suffered badly. Ten shows have released statements on what are they going to do and how will proceed during and after the quarantine.
Seven shows have released statements that they are postponed:
- Birthday Candles
- Caroline, or Change
- Flying Over Sunset
- How I Learned to Drive
- The Music Man
- Plaza Suite
Beetlejuice and Frozen have called it a night and closed after debuting on April 25, 2019, and March 22, 2018, respectively.
“Hangmen” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” failed to open
Two of the anticipated debuts on Broadway were canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Hangmen”, began previews on February 29, and Mark Addy, Dan Stevens, Tracie Bennett, and Gaby French, stated financial reasons for the cancelation of the run after the pandemic ends. The show was scheduled to officially open on March 19th.
Broadway’s revival of the classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” followed the same fate. Its final preview performance was staged on March 17 after. It was announced that the show will officially open on April 9. The revival of Edward Albee’s classic featured Laurie Metcalf, Rupert Everett, Patsy Ferran, and Russell Tovey.
What is to follow?
It is still unclear on when and how will the theaters open. One thing is certain — all will have to be carried out very carefully. Pundits claim that there should be obligatory masks, gloves, and deep cleanings between performances.
Others consider streaming services a relevant option. A lot of the show producers turned to various streaming services after the outbreak of the COVID-19 on Broadway.
The most notable example is “Hamilton”. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s megahit will be featured on the platform Disney+. The cast of “Mrs. Doubtfire” took it to Zoom where they sang all of the musical’s songs in order to keep in shape.
The ever-active Miranda didn’t stop there. “Hamilton” kept engaging its audience in the social networks even during the quarantine. They trended an #eduham at home tag, showing fans impersonating their favorite stars and founding fathers. The cast and creators of “Mean Girls” have announced a live stream of Summer Reading & Discussion Series, while some of the female cast members of “Chicago” were on CBS via Zoom. The cast of “Hadestown” was very active, releasing some live calls on several topics, including Pride Month.
Andrew Lloyd-Weber took it to the next level (as you might expect it from him). His YouTube channel “The Show Must Go On” presented tapes of iconic performances of his best plays. Fans were treated the likes of “Evita”, “Cats”, and “The Phantom of the Opera” for free.
The outbreak of COVID -19 on Broadway dealt a crippling blow to the entertainment industry. A popular slogan was taken up by everyone in the industry saying it is “Only Intermission”. And we agree. We need to stick together and follow the rules, no matter how strict they are.