Arts and Entertainment

I’ve Seen The Lights Go Out on Broadway

It is March 12th. What used to seem like a distant thought was now a reality. The coronavirus had come to New York, and schools and shops were all closing down for what would be no longer than a few weeks, people thought. As the weeks turned to months, the severity of the coronavirus only increased. While many industries have adapted to this “new normal,” Broadway is on track to hit its one year anniversary since the curtains first closed. 

The thing about Broadway is it rarely ever closes down. When Covid hit the U.S. back in March, Broadway was gearing up for its most important time of the year with the anticipated 2020 Tony Awards right around the corner. The majority of Broadway’s newest releases tend to open to the general public in late March and early April just in time for the important award ceremony. Nevertheless, there were a handful of musicals like Moulin Rouge, Jagged Little Pill, and Tina – The Tina Turner Musical that got their debut before the shutdown and the 2020 Tony Awards, which recently announced its list of nominees, will honor those musicals at its to-be-determined ceremony date.    

The worst thing about the Broadway closure is without a doubt the effect it has on the actors and the economy. The actors will typically perform seven or eight times a week, and that isn’t even including things like rehearsal, which made the closure of Broadway sting even more. The sudden closure of Broadway came as a huge surprise to these actors, and the little knowledge of Covid-19 made getting back to work a mystery. “With nearly 97,000 workers who rely on Broadway for their livelihood and an annual economic impact of $14.8 billion to the city, our membership is committed to re-opening as soon as conditions permit us to do so,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement last month. With Broadway’s reopening being pushed back even further to late May 2021, the lack of work available to actors doesn’t seem like it will go away anytime soon.

In order for a Broadway show to become profitable, at least 80% of the seats need to be filled. With social distancing rules, it is pretty much impossible to achieve this, and that is what one of the main causes of Broadway shutting down was, and is what making Broadway reopen a very difficult task. 

Another effect of the coronavirus on Broadway is the upcoming shows getting canceled or delayed. The pushbacks of Broadway resulted in many shows operating on small budgets having very little to work with, and many highly anticipated shows are postponed indefinitely. 

Some highly anticipated shows are:

Mrs. Doubtfire

This Broadway rendition of the comedy movie follows father Daniel Hillard. After going through a divorce with his wife, in order to keep seeing his kids he dresses up as an old nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire, and acts as a nanny to keep seeing his kids.

West Side Story

This show is about two lovers from opposite sides of enemy gangs. It opened up to break huge box office records a month before Broadway shut down, so many people still haven’t been able to see it.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

The show takes place over one long evening where the audience watches in sadness as the couple, George and Martha’s relationship slowly falls apart.

The Music Man

The story of a traveling salesman who makes his way into a town in Iowa where he slowly befriends the citizens. 

It is no secret that Broadway holds a special place in many American’s hearts. Broadway inspires millions of people every single day. “The closing of Broadway shows is a huge letdown for actors and fans,” said James Gallagher, a sophomore. “Actors are being forced to look for other jobs and ways to earn money instead of being able to do their dream job. Fans are sadly losing out on one of the greeted attractions in New York City.” If you want any evidence of the amount of influence Broadway has, look no further than the Hamilton craze that took place just a few years ago. 

It is truly a shame that Broadway had to close down, putting all of these talented actors out of work, and preventing the millions of people from coming and experiencing it. On average, a total of 11.66 million people annually watch Broadway musicals. Even with all of these obstacles in the way, hopefully we will see the return of Broadway soon.