Broadway shows will remain closed through May 30, 2021, the Broadway League confirmed Friday.
While there is not yet a reopening date, the League said each Broadway show will announce its return individually. Like the previous shutdown announcements, the new date is intended to process ticket refunds and many producers are eyeing fall 2021 as a more likely return.
In a statement to Broadway News, St. Martin said that while the League had initially hoped producers could reopen this spring, that no longer seemed like a possibility due to safety concerns related to COVID-19. The League decided to announce the May date Friday in order to give industry members time to find other work.
“It is important to allow our producers and theatre owners the opportunity to share this crucial information as soon as possible and to advise their employees, casts, and crews, ” St. Martin said. “We hope that this knowledge will help everyone to make plans for the near future, given the difficult situation that so many in our community find themselves in and the need for some to find interim work in order to pay for rent, maintain health insurance, and feed their families. “
In a press release, St. Martin said the League is “working tirelessly with multiple partners” and will look to reopen as soon as it is safe.
This is the fourth shutdown announcement for the industry and the longest closure in its history. Theaters first closed on March 12. Broadway leaders have been looking for federal aid, in the form of the Save Our Stages provision, additional unemployment payments and COBRA subsidies, to sustain the industry.
Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, called the Broadway League’s move “difficult, but responsible,” while noting the impact it will have on their members.
“This is a deeply painful time for everyone who depends on the arts for their livelihood. We are at this moment because, seven months into the pandemic, our nation still lacks a coherent national strategy for masks and testing which could help bring the virus under control,” McColl said in a statement. “Too many in the industry need help now as we face another six months without work.”
The extended shutdown will impact several new shows that were aiming for a spring opening. Of those shows, “The Music Man” has announced it will not open until February 2022 and “MJ” said it will begin previews in September 2021. It also charts a rocky course for existing shows now trying to weather more than a year of being closed. At stake are 24 shows that were open and running on Broadway before the shutdown and five more in previews.
Three shows, “Frozen”, “Hangmen” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” have already announced permanent closure.