By Sarah Brill, Science & Technology Editor
As fun as it is for us theatre nerds to listen to our favorite musicals on repeat, there is something to be said about in-person theatre. Good news for us, Broadway is reopening! On March 12, 2020, Broadway, a beacon of light and theatrics, closed its doors to the public with the hope of reopening that April. The pandemic took full swing and Broadway was forced to remain closed until the safety of the guests and actors could be confirmed. Now, nearly a year after the closing of the theatre, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Broadway will open its doors, with some performances beginning as soon as September 14.
The major question that has come up regarding the reopening is why not open sooner? With New York planning on a full reopening in July, why can’t Broadway do the same? The main answer is safety and the protocols that come into place. Another reason to postpone, according to the New York Times, is that “… individually and collectively, [Broadway is] trying to imagine when large numbers of people are likely to feel comfortable traveling to Times Square, funneling through cramped lobbies and walking down narrow aisles to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers. Most Broadway shows lose money even in the best of times, so producers say there is no way they can afford to reopen with social distancing, given the industry’s high labor and real estate costs.”
In older theatres that house some of the most popular shows, such as the Gershwin Theatre, home to “Wicked”, there are only three levels, each of which has small lobbies, and even smaller bathrooms. With the mob of people that normally rush to the restrooms during intermission, it is natural for the industry to first find a creative solution so people feel comfortable before the show and during intermission, as well as comfortable squeezing down the aisle. Let’s just hope that no shows are set to run in The Lyceum Theatre, the oldest theatre on Broadway notorious for its small spaces and bathrooms.
The good news about Broadway is that it left on a high note. In 2019, Broadway grossed over $1.8 billion in sales and the hope is that trajectory will continue. It might be assumed that after watching illegal tapings of their favorite show on YouTube or relistening to their favorite musicals on Spotify, that the majority of Broadway fans will flock to the theatres upon reopening, hopefully boosting sales. The hope is also that after such a high grossing income in 2019, entertaining both new audience members and theatre geeks, that the love for theatre, no matter if you grew up on it or not, continues to grow.
So, now is the time to buy your tickets, and let’s turn Broadway’s lights back on together.