How the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Affect Future Broadway Performances
By: Samantha Bravo
Mary Avella, a freshman at Hunter College has been looking forward to seeing “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” for her high school senior trip. She has been a Harry Potter fan for years and she could not have been more excited.
However, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is one of many shows that have been postponed due to the coronavirus. When the pandemic hit during March of 2020, many businesses suffered.
“It was supposed to be on March 27th, only 2 weeks away,” said Avella. “But the pandemic happened before we could see it.”
Nearly one year later, New York shows have been canceled and are scheduled to reopen in May 2021 according to Broadway.com. The reopening date has been expected multiple times and we are still wondering if it is going to be pushed back again.
Naturally, this has impacted theatergoers, actors, crew members and stage performances alike.
The lack of business has caused the U.S. economy to decrease by 3.9%. This has been the biggest drop since the Great Depression.
Consequently, the unemployment rate has increased to 8.5%, 52% of them being actors.
People who work backstage are not spared either because they work in tight spaces, making it hard for them to socially distance themselves, even when they are wearing masks.
The theaters themselves are also tightly packed. They feature narrow aisles, small bathrooms, and seats that are close together.
Studies have shown that although younger audiences are going to the theater, 16% of theatergoers are over the age of 65, including tourists.
In the last two Broadway seasons, shows made more than $1.83 billion, making it the highest grossing season in history.
“Beetlejuice the Musical,” which was scheduled to close on June 6th, has been permanently shut down on March 11th. The producers of the show are still wondering if there is an opportunity for them to open in a different location, but there might be a chance that it may never reopen again.
“Six the Musical” was launching a world tour from West End to New York. Sadly, the show’s opening night on Broadway was canceled just hours before curtain time.
“I was in a taxi, about to get my hair done, and it came on the radio that Broadway was closing,” Jennifer Moss, the creator of the show said in the New York Times. “It was just good the decision was taken out of our hands.”
Disney’s Broadway adaptation of “Frozen” is also canceled due to the pandemic. The musical also played its last performance on March 11th in the St. James Theater.
However, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” will reopen when the crisis is lifted.
The coronavirus has also destroyed the highest-grossing musicals of all time. Before the lockdown, long-running musicals like “Hamilton,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Chicago,” and “Wicked” sold millions of tickets each year.
Now, they are quickly losing revenue and will not make any money for at least four months.
This means that the newer, upcoming shows will probably generate more money and have larger audiences.
On a positive note, the arrival of COVID vaccines that arrived this fall gave us some hope. Regardless, we are not out of the woods just yet and we should still be taking precautions.
If Broadway was to reopen, theaters would have to limit the amount of people in the audience so that they could stay at least six feet apart. Additionally, the chances of shows reopening also depends on the amount of tourism.
We are not sure what the future holds for us, but for now all we can do is stay safe and hope for the best.