“Things can change in a second”: Broadway cancels shows as Omicron cases hit New York – archyde

More than half of the Broadway shows planned for December had to cancel multiple performances as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus sweeps through New York during the critical Christmas theater season.

The sudden cancellations put the performance of an industry to the test that had only just begun to recover after a year unprecedented shutdown.

Performances including Hamilton, Hadestown, The Lion King and Dear Evan Hansen everything will be dark by Christmas. The Rockettes, a dance group whose tough shows are a staple of the holidays at Radio City Music Hall, ended their run prematurely on December 16.

The holidays have given Broadway a boost in the past before it slumped in the first quarter when New York City tourism subsided and many shows closed.

For some, that boost won’t come. Seven shows are closed; four including Thoughts of a colored man and WaitressHe blamed the financial blow from the coronavirus cancellations. New York City reported about 11,500 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday.

Shows took an extremely long time to keep going. Such a production was Thoughts of a colored man, where the playwright Keenan Scott II went on stage during the performance of his own play on December 21 and 22 because actors were ill, including one with Covid-19. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep the show going as Wednesday was its last performance.

According to the Broadway League, a trade association, gross sales for the week of December 19 were $ 22.5 million, 26 percent less than the previous week. In a corresponding week in 2019, before the coronavirus was discovered in the United States, sales were more than $ 40 million.

Given fewer shows this year, revenue is 71.5 percent of 2019, Lee Seymour, a Broadway producer and writer, estimated.

How the individual shows are doing is unclear as the Broadway League no longer provides show-by-show data. League president Charlotte St. Martin said the data would be republished “if business goes normally”.

Even before the pandemic, there was a gap between what industry insiders call “have” and “have-nothing” – Broadway stars versus new, smaller productions.

That gap has likely widened as the audience focuses on familiar greats. Financially secure shows are better able to withstand cancellations without closing forever.

Five of the seven shows that closed early this season were new to Broadway. New productions were ineligible for up to $ 10 million per company in federal grants received from popular shows including those prior to the pandemic Hamilton, Hadestown and Come away.

“I think the biggest challenges really are the shows that don’t have a recognizable brand yet,” said Mara Isaacs, lead producer of Hadestown.

The data available shows that the audience was hungry to return to the theater. On average, the shows that are still open are around 82 percent occupied, according to the Broadway League, which indicates robust demand.

Compared to before the pandemic, more theatergoers are US tourists and New Yorkers. TodayTix, a mobile ticketing platform for theaters, provided data showing that local audiences increased 6 percent compared to 2019, while international audiences decreased by the same amount. Data from the ticket reseller Living seats show that the biggest names continue to attract their audiences from afar.

At the same time, people are buying tickets closer to Showtime, said TodayTix CEO Brian Fenty, posing a threat to presale.

“People . . . ensure that their travel plans can be adhered to. . . they make sure the show plays, ”he said.

Fewer workers in the Manhattan offices have made midweek filling a challenge, Sue Frost and Randy Adams said. Come away Producers.

Frost and Adams said hiring additional staff for their musical, including ensuring compliance with Covid safety protocols, created additional costs. Broadway cast, crew, and audience must be fully vaccinated while those involved in the production are regularly tested.

Flying over sunset at the Lincoln Center Theater, recently switched from four times a week to test cast and crew to daily and has a “Covid team” with a production epidemiologist on the payroll, said Harry Hadden-Paton, who starred in the musical.

Broadway security was a welcome change for Jaime Benavides and Ricardo Bruno visiting New York from San Antonio, Texas. “They’re very lax over there right now,” Benavides said of his home state.

But the specter of the shutdown is looming. “I feel like a big cloud is coming,” said Hadden-Paton.

“Things can change in seconds,” says Estella Marie, who works in the cloakroom department of. is working Come away. The musical announced on Wednesday that it would cancel performances until Christmas Day due to groundbreaking cases of Covid-19 among employees.

Broadway closings threaten part of the city’s economy. Before the pandemic, shows supports 97,000 local jobs and grossing more than $ 1 billion in ticket sales annually on top of nearly $ 15 billion in show-related expenses, according to the Broadway League.

Leisa Creo and Jonathan Arak, friends from Manhattan, said they had made an effort to see more Broadway shows this year to help support the industry. They attended a night performance of The Lehman trilogy this week at the Nederlander Theater.

“Broadway is the heart of the city and it’s struggling. You know, that’s a big deal, ”Creo said. “Is there more New York than Broadway?”


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