Broadway theaters will remain closed at least through Labor Day, extending the shutdowns that began in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s the third extension, after the original targeted date to end the closures, April 12, was pushed back to June 7. Broadway performances were suspended on March 12, prompting the longest period of time the Great White Way has been dark.
However, Tuesday’s announcement was unsurprising since New York City has been hit especially hard by the global health crisis. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put arts, entertainment and recreation in the last phase of his plans to reopen the state.
It’s unclear when Broadway performances will be able to resume, theater trade organization Broadway League said. For now, venues are offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for performances through Sept. 6.
“While all Broadway shows would love to resume performances as soon as possible, we need to ensure the health and well-being of everyone who comes to the theater — behind the curtain and in front of it — before shows can return,” said Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin in a statement on Tuesday. “The Broadway League’s membership is working in cooperation with the theatrical unions, government officials and health experts to determine the safest ways to restart our industry.”
The Broadway League said the group is working with city and state officials to determine when it will be safe to resume performances. Broadway, as an industry, is particularly in jeopardy because patrons tend to skew older and it relies heavily on tourism.
“Throughout this challenging time, we have been in close communication with Governor Cuomo’s office and are grateful for his support and leadership as we work together to bring back this vital part of New York City’s economy — and spirit,” St. Martin said.
At the time of closures, 31 musicals and plays were running, while eight new shows were in preview and another eight were preparing to debut in the spring.
Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, said safety measures need to be implemented before Broadway can reopen.
“Today the Broadway League took a difficult but necessary action to put the safety of everyone from the audience to the actors and stage managers first,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement. “Before our members can safely return to work, we will need new protocols that protect audiences and workers alike.”
Variety reported last week that the 2020 Tony Awards, celebrating the year’s best onstage productions, will potentially be canceled. Since the future of Broadway remains a question mark, discussions by the committee that plans the annual awards show have reportedly come to a “standstill.”