Broadway To Reopen Sept. 14, Says Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Broadway League “Cautiously Optimistic”

UPDATE, with Broadway League, union responses New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that Broadway will reopen on Sept. 14, with some tickets going on sale beginning tomorrow. Theaters will be open at 100% capacity, the governor says.

The surprise announcement comes just days after Cuomo said Broadway would not be included in a planned May 19 reopening of many New York City businesses and venues. Cuomo said on Monday that Broadway, which has been shut down since his order on March 12, 2020, would need more time to reopen than other industries due to the logistics of theater producing.

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Both Cuomo and The Broadway League had previously indicated that September was the target reopening month, but the governor’s announcement of Sept. 14 at a press conference today was the first projection to pinpoint a specific date.

As of yet, no Broadway production has set a specific September opening date, though some shows have, in recent months, put monthly blocks of tickets on (and off) sale with the caveat that refunds would be provided if reopening did not occur. Today’s announcement puts ticket sales on firmer ground, and at least several major Broadway productions, possibly including Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked, are expected to announce box office reopenings within the next week.

Other shows likely to at least consider Fall returns are David Byrne’s American Utopia, Chicago, Aladdin, Come From Away, Ain’t Too Proud, Jagged Little Pill, Mrs. Doubtfire, Flying Over Sunset, The Phantom of the Opera and Aladdin. The Music Man has announced a December start for performances, as has Diana: The Musical, and other productions are no doubt working on plans to hit the stage before the end of 2021.

The League said today it was “cautiously optimistic” about the Fall venue reopening plans.

“We remain cautiously optimistic about Broadway’s ability to resume performances this fall and are happy that fans can start buying tickets again,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. (See the full statement below.)

Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement, that the announcement “means we are one step closer to the safe reopening of not just Broadway, but jobs for thousands of workers in the New York area.” McColl added that Equity looks forward “to continuing our conversations with the Broadway League about a safe reopening and know that soon the time will come when members can go back to doing what they do best, creating world-class theatre.”

Musicians’ union Local 802 President Adam Krauthamer said, in part, “The musicians of NYC are thrilled to bring live music back to Broadway and are excited that the Broadway League will resume ticket sales this month for Fall 2021 performances,” adding, “The rebirth of Broadway is also an opportunity to take a hard look at our industry as we continue to fight bullying and intimidation and commit to respect, safety, diversity, equity and inclusion for all artistic workers.”

In his tweet making the reopening announcement, Cuomo said, “Broadway is major part of our state’s identity and economy, and we are thrilled that the curtains will rise again.” The lifting of all capacity restrictions has long been considered by the industry as crucial to any reopening plan, with Broadway economics relying on the ability to sell tickets at 100% venue capacity.

Earlier this week, Cuomo indicated that Broadway theaters would or could operate at full capacity if venues required proof of vaccination or negative Covid tests. Venues not setting such criteria for entry could be required to abide by the CDC’s six-feet-apart social distancing guidelines. Today Cuomo said that New York will begin to reduce social distancing rules at large-scale indoor venues on June 19, with seated sections designated for those who are fully vaccinated.

Cuomo also indicated that theaters will offer refunds and exchange policies in case of public health-related postponements or cancelations.

As Cuomo made the reopening announcement, the League – the trade organization for producers and theater owners – confirmed that Broadway ticket sales will resume this month for Fall 2021 performance, with each returning and new production to announce their sale dates, performance schedules and timelines on a show-by-show basic.

“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 the League’s St. Martin. “Nothing beats Broadway. The theatre owners, producers, and other League members will continue to work with the NY State Department of Health and the Governor to coordinate the industry’s return and the related health and safety protocols required to do so. We remain cautiously optimistic about Broadway’s ability to resume performances this fall and are happy that fans can start buying tickets again.”

At the time of the shutdown, 31 productions were running, including 8 new shows in previews. Additionally, 8 productions were in rehearsals preparing to open that spring.

The announcement of a Fall reopening could set the stage for similar plans regarding the long-delayed 2020 Tony Awards. Though nominations were unveiled last Fall, the ceremony itself has not yet been set. Tony voters submitted their votes last month.

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