The Show Mustn’t Go On: COVID Closes Curtain on Broadway Until Next Summer

FILE - Broadway posters outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York on May 13, 2020. Broadway theaters may be dark but there will be plenty of new online productions of some of classic plays this fall. “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Richards on Wednesday unveiled a seven weekly play run of livestreamed works to benefit The Actors Fund. They will stream on Broadway’s Best Shows and ticket buyers can access the events through TodayTix starting at $5. The plays include “The Best Man,” “This Is Our Youth,” Time Stands Still” and “Race” (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

COVID-19 has been a different sort of showstopper than what Broadway is accustomed to. Its continued effect on America prompted the Broadway League to extend its production shutdown to May 30, 2021, the fourth extension since shows were first stopped on March 12.

“We are working tirelessly with multiple partners on sustaining the industry once we raise our curtains again,” Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement.

The shutdown is devastating to more than Broadway’s 97,000 workers. Without Broadway for more than a year, a projected annual economic impact on New York of $14.8 billion will be crushing to hotels, bars, restaurants and more.

This is unprecedented for Broadway, just as it was for the Metropolitan Opera to cancel its season recently for the first time in its 140-year history.

Broadway is believed to have drawn 15 million tourists to New York last year and had 31 shows either performing or preparing to do so at the time when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sought to stop a coronavirus surge by banning gatherings of 500 or more people.

The Actors’ Equity Association continues to endorse the precaution for those on stage and in the seats.

New shows, such as a revival of “The Music Man” and a Michael Jackson bio-musical, have delayed their previews to later in 2021.

The Tony Awards changed course, deciding to honor the shortened Broadway season’s performances with a virtual show later this year. Nominations will be announced Thursday on the Tonys’ YouTube channel.

Just like anywhere in America right now, the closed curtains on Broadway make New York a bit dimmer.

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