On March 12th, 2020, Broadway was shut down. Although some showings were initially just postponed, eventually every theater was closed. In New York City alone, 96,000 performers lost their jobs and millions upon millions of dollars were lost. Many organizations, including The Actors Fund, stepped up to give back to the actors struggling during the shutdown.
During a press conference on March 25th, 2021, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said that “Broadway needs to come back, and we will move heaven and earth to bring Broadway back”. He went on to say that he believes theaters should be back open by September of this year. In Manhattan, 54% of the population has received at least one of the two vaccine doses. Out of all of New York City, Manhattan has the most vaccinated population, followed by the Bronx with 33% of the population has gotten at least the first dose. (Please note that these are the statistics from April 25, which may become outdated.) The growing amount of people receiving the vaccine has given many people hope for the reopening of the city, including the lively Broadway stages.
In New York City, many places are going to be opening up on May 19th. This includes restaurants, museums, shops, retail shops as well as Broadway theatres. However, just because theaters are allowed to open doesn’t mean that they necessarily will. Even if they do open, there are going to be many changes that will have to be implemented.
This begs the question, what will theatres look like? Although it is near impossible to predict the exact outcome, there is no question that there will be many changes to the theaters. Firstly, the offering of food and drink at the shows may become limited. For example, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child offered beverages and snacks during intermission that theatergoers could enjoy during the show. Post-pandemic though, this option may no longer be available. Secondly, the prices of tickets could rise. Since Broadway has been closed for over a year, a lot of money was lost. Theaters may up their prices, attempting to regain their lost profits. Another concern is a loss of interest in seeing certain shows live. For instance, Hamilton is now available on Disney+. The recording of the production is seamless, mimicking the experience of a live show. Additionally, the recorded version includes all of the original cast.. Watching the musical in your living room will never capture the same energy as seeing a show live, but many may be deterred to see the show in person because of the changes in the cast. When given the option of spending between $270 and $850 for a one-time viewing or spending eight dollars a month on Disney+ to see Hamilton, and hundreds of other tv shows, movies, and performances, many people will likely choose Disney+.
We also have to take into account that many people won’t be able to afford tickets because of the hardships that this past year had put on them and millions of other families. To say that 2020 and 2021 have been rough would be an understatement. Sadly, many people won’t be able to see these breathtaking shows. Thankfully, there are other options to watching them that weren’t available before, such as Hamilton now being available on Disney+, a movie adaptation of The Prom on Netflix, In the Heights coming out in June, as well as multiple others. Although these still cost money to watch, it’s a significant decrease in price compared to live shows in New York City.