After being shut down for over a year, Broadway finally opens its doors with strict guidelines.
By: Samantha Bravo
In the beginning of the pandemic, it seemed that all Broadway shows in New York City had made their final curtain call. But when COVID-19 vaccines became available, it felt as though the world was returning to some kind of normalcy.
On September 14th, 2021, several Broadway shows including “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Hamilton,” “Come from Away,” “Chicago,” and “Little Shop of Horrors” reopened. “The Great White Way” has also made room for new shows such as “Diana The Musical,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and the revival of “Funny Girl.”
“When Broadway is up and running, it says so much about New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference in City Hall. “Tonight, some of the biggest shows on Broadway come back.”
However, since there are still people refusing to wear masks, social-distance, and take the vaccine, the Delta variant has emerged. Moreover, New York is still facing a drop in tourism, and tourists make up two-thirds of the Broadway audience.
This is despite the fact that New York is faring better than most other states in the country. Due to all of this, all Broadway theatres are enforcing strict guidelines.
As expected, all Broadway shows will require audience members to wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking in specific areas.
They also require audience members to be fully vaccinated. In addition to that, audience members ages 12 and older must show their vaccination cards and a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or a school ID.
COVID-19 has also influenced its cast members. As hundreds of performers return to their respective shows, many of them will have to retrain themselves vocally, physically, and mentally.
For example, Kevin Clay, a performer in “The Book of Mormon” has been working at the register at a Trader Joe’s during the pandemic. After spending almost a year away from the stage, he isn’t as flexible as he used to be.
“I had been doing the show eight times a week and working out five days a week,” Clay said during an interview in The New York Times. “And then I went from that to nothing.”
There are also child actors who aged out of their roles while adults have other obligations. Broadway actor, Celia Rose Gooding has confirmed that she will not be returning to “Jagged Little Pill” and will instead be featured in the reboot of “Star Trek” on Paramount +.
Even the theatres themselves have suffered through the pandemic. Since all shows have been cancelled, theatres have been gathering dust. Staff members have been cleaning up dusty furniture and props, replacing damaged costumes, and testing out automated equipment to see if everything works again.
“If you turn off your car or computer for 18 months and then turn it back on, you don’t know what you might come across,” said Guy Kwan of Juniper Street Productions, which worked on shows such as “Moulin Rouge”. “We didn’t want to be in a situation where we start finding problems after audiences come back.”
Despite the many disadvantages caused by the pandemic, the reopening of Broadway is a sign that the country is slowly, but surely getting back on track. Hopefully, more people will continue to get vaccinated and follow all the safety procedures until our lives get back to normal.
“Since reopening, Broadway has welcomed back over 1 million attendees to theatres in New York City,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. It’s thrilling to see the energy on our stages and in our audience once again. We are excited to welcome families, children and more international visitors as our borders reopen and tourism in New York recovers.”