Broadway Not Set to Reopen Until June 2021, at the Earliest

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Joan Marcus

Streaming service Disney + capitalized on the coronavirus-imposed shutdown of Broadway by releasing its film adaptation of “Hamilton” a year early.

Emma Peterson, Contributing Writer

Nearly every job industry has been impacted by COVID-19, but among the hardest-hit have been those in the performing arts. Since their shutdown on March 12, Broadway shows have been unable to resume due to coronavirus-related risks. 

Twenty-four running shows have been halted, including three (“Frozen,” “Hangmen,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”) that announced they are shutting down prematurely due to COVID-19. Those that have chosen to try to wait it out have already gone over a year without performing, a strain on employees who need a reliable source of income. According to Business Insider, the performing arts industry lost roughly 45.4% of its jobs last April. 

Eight more shows were supposed to premiere last spring and have now been postponed: “”MJ,” “The Music Man,” “Flying Over Sunset,” “Caroline or Change,” “Plaza Suite,” “American Buffalo,” and “The Minutes.” 

Although Broadway was previously set to reopen January 3rd, analysts now agree that this date is unlikely, if not impossible. Due to financial constraints and the very nature of the shows themselves, Broadway cannot support social distancing measures in live performances, which is why shows likely will not resume until social distancing is no longer required. Musicals need an orchestra and an acting ensemble, and neither of these bodies cannot realistically function while wearing masks and staying six feet apart. We can expect Broadway to be closed until at least June 2021, if not later. 

“It’s really sad that all these actors’ and musicians’ dreams have been put on hold,” says Junior Helen Kahn, who is sympathetic to the struggles of the employees who “have had to seek out temporary jobs or even abandoned musical theater altogether in order to pay the bills.”

There is some good news, however. After the success of the movie version of “Hamilton,” which was released in July on Disney+, filmmakers are considering adapting more Broadway plays into movie form. Netflix released a film adaptation of “The Boys in the Band” a few weeks ago, and a musical comedy called “The Prom” is coming in December. “Diana: The Musical,” a musical biography of Princess Diana, was set to premiere on Broadway March 2020, but a filmed version will appear on Netflix next year instead. More shows, including “Wicked,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and “13,” will soon be released as streamable movies. 

Junior Avery Marchand is “excited for the new opportunities to access musicals,” albeit in a slightly different form. “It’s not the same as the real thing,” she admits, “but for now, it’s about as close as we’ll get!”