Curtain call: Could Broadway shows return as early as this month?
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Americans are getting exciting news every day surrounding continued vaccine distributions and lifting restrictions around the country. Citizens are finally getting hope for some sense of normalcy in the near future. Social media has been the grounds for concert announcements and vaccine card flaunting, as people gear up for the most together summer since 2019.
New York City is increasingly popping up in the news regarding lifting restrictions. Within the last week, bars & restaurants allowed increased capacity, and rumors circulated surrounding a mask-free summer in the city which has had an outdoor mask mandate for over a year.
The news of restrictions dropping in NYC has New Yorkers excited, but Broadway fans inside & outside the boroughs are teeming with anticipation, wondering if the lifted restrictions mean Broadway shows are on the way.
According to NYC’s government restaurant reopening guide, indoor dining in the city will bump up to 75% capacity starting this Friday, May 7th. NYC’s restaurants & bars are some of the most renowned in the world and are widely regarded as the lifeblood of the city. Now, they’re in sight of normal function for the first time in a year.
In addition to capacity restrictions, curfews have remained in the city that never sleeps for over a year, but closing times are changing soon too: the midnight curfew for indoor dining will be lifted May 31st, and private outdoor gatherings can go on past midnight starting May 17th.
The news of restaurants & bars further reopening is promising for New Yorkers, but what about other bigger live events like Broadway shows?
Variety reported yesterday that NYC will lift capacity restrictions altogether starting May 19th. However, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday large stadium events, like the city’s baseball & basketball games, will remain at 33% capacity.
Mets & Nets diehards can at least mentally prepare for the summer ahead, but what about New York’s theater kids?
No official news has been released regarding the future of Broadway shows for the summer. Publications speculated the reopening of Broadway shows will take weeks to even months after capacity restrictions are lifted, giving the shows the time they need to rehearse for reopening.
Broadway shows haven’t continued even in the botched capacity of other industries, putting on outdoor performances or focusing on live streams. The reason? The people behind them argued Broadway shows can’t function profitably at low capacity. The time off will no doubt require more rehearsing, pushing back Broadway shows from reopening sooner.
When & how
Variety reported that insiders speculated Broadway shows won’t be opening until at least September of this year.
Furthermore, Broadway shows opening all at once isn’t expected either. Insiders predicted the reopening will come in waves, with bigger shows like Hamilton & The Lion King spearheading the Broadway revival. Smaller shows may take months to show up on stage.
Governor Cuomo is quoted saying Broadway “may make their own economic decision as to when they reopen”, further solidifying the idea Broadway shows are their own beast, and it’ll be harder to predict when they go back to normal than restaurants or bars.
Unlike many music festivals like Bonnaroo & Rolling Loud, which released their lineups earlier this year before restriction lifts were anywhere near where they are now, Broadway shows have yet to sell a single ticket or release predicted scheduling.
It’s hard to say when Broadway shows will be making their return, but for now, we know it’s definitely not as soon as this month. Are you dying to get back in the front row of your favorite Broadway show? Drop the show you’re missing in the comments below!