As expected, Broadway will remain dark through 2020, with the Broadway League announcing today that theater owners will refund or exchange all tickets purchased for productions through Jan. 3, 2021.
“The Broadway experience can be deeply personal but it is also, crucially, communal,” said Chairman of the Board of The Broadway League Thomas Schumacher. “The alchemy of 1000 strangers bonding into a single audience fueling each performer on stage and behind the scenes will be possible again when Broadway theatres can safely host full houses. Every single member of our community is eager to get back to work sharing stories that inspire our audience through the transformative power of a shared live experience. The safety of our cast, crew, orchestra and audience is our highest priority and we look forward to returning to our stages only when it’s safe to do so. One thing is for sure, when we return we will be stronger and more needed than ever.”
According to the League, returning productions are currently projected to resume performances over a series of rolling dates in early 2021. Tickets for performances for next winter and spring are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks.
Since the COVID-19 shutdown began last March, the League has periodically extended the show suspension, which was initially set until April, then June, then September and now January 2021. The date indicates only an eligible refund period, not necessarily an expected re-opening.
In response to the shutdown extension, Actors’ Equity Association released the following statement: “Countless regional theaters have made the exact same decision as Broadway, and are voluntarily postponing their seasons and putting the safety and health of their audiences and workers first. These responsible decisions mean that the industry will need support so that when it is safe to reopen, the arts can go back to work and help the entire economy recover.
“While the HEROES Act has important provisions on unemployment and health insurance subsidies, what is sadly missing is arts funding and loans that will enable the live performing arts to quickly reopen and help the economy grow.”
Last week, a slew of planned productions announced target opening dates in Spring 2021, including the Tony Kushner-Jeanine Tesori musical Caroline, or Change, The Music Man, Flying Over Sunset, American Buffalo and The Minutes. Birthday Candles, with Messing, will open in Fall 2021. The producers of American Buffalo and The Minutes indicated that reopening would almost certainly depend on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Other shows that were either up and running when the shutdown hit, or were about to begin, have canceled altogether, including Disney’s Frozen, Martin McDonagh’s play Hangmen and Edward Albee’s revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Laurie Metcalf and Rupert Everett. The shutdown extension nixes the planned Fall limited Broadway return engagement of David Byrne’s American Utopia.
In its extension announcement today, the Broadway League said it continues to work with city and state officials “to find the safest way to reopen, including screening and testing for audience members and employees, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing measures, and revamping backstage protocols. Broadway, as an industry, is particularly at risk because theaters are often small and tightly packed with patrons.”
Said Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin, “Our membership is working closely with the theatrical unions and in concert with key experts and some of the greatest minds inside and outside of the industry to explore protocols for all aspects of reopening. We are focused on identifying and implementing necessary measures that will enable us to resume performances safely for Broadway audiences and employees.
“We are determined to bring back the people who rely on this industry for their livelihood, and to welcome back all those who love this vital part of New York City, as soon as it is safe to do so. As so many of us in the Broadway community have been saying during this time – We’ll be back, and we have so many more stories to tell.”