For 18 months, auditoriums that were built to hold hundreds of thousands of people have sat empty. For 18 months, stages that were constructed to display passionate performers doing what they love have remained dark. On Sept. 14th, 2021, that 18 months will finally be up.
Last week, New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced that for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Broadway auditoriums will open at 100% capacity this fall. According to Cuomo, “Broadway is a major part of our state’s identity and economy, and we are thrilled that the curtains will rise again.”
After months of sitting, performers and backstage employees alike are ready to return to the world of live audiences. Following the announcement, The Broadway League, The National Trade Association for the Broadway Theatre Industry, confirmed that ticket sales will begin immediately to prepare for the upcoming season.
So far, many of the 31 shows that fell victim to the pandemic in March have announced their return to the stage. Both classic shows like Phantom of the Opera and shows that made their debut last spring, like Diana, are prepared to perform once again.
President of the League, Charlotte St. Martin, has released multiple statements about the upcoming months in the performance industry. “We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo clearly recognizes the impact of Broadway’s return on the city and state’s economy and the complexity of restarting an entire industry that has been dormant for over a year,” said St. Martin.
Sadly, employment in Arts and Entertainment fields had fallen by 66% in 2020 in comparison to 2019. Since this industry alone is a large portion of New York City’s economy, it is imperative that Broadway reopens as soon as possible.
As long as individual theatre owners receive the state government’s approval, everything is in order for a total reopening. Before the pandemic began, this meant around 250,000 audience members per week.
That being said, multiple COVID-19 precautions will remain in place to ensure the safety of employees and audiences. The number and severity of precautions depend on how cases continue to rise or fall between now and March.
Although a lot is still subject to change over time, the reopening of Broadway shows is certainly a step in the right direction to getting the world back to normal.