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Where is Broadway in its post-pandemic recovery?

Theater owners and producers Robert Wankel, Sonia Friedman, Brian Anthony Moreland and more weigh in on the state of Broadway.

Times Square in 2020 (Credit: Getty Images)

On June 11, the 76th annual Tony Awards celebrated Broadway’s first full season back since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. It was the third Tonys since the Rialto went dark on March 12, 2020 — with televised ceremonies in September 2021 and June 2022. Yet, it was the first one without required masks or COVID testing. These awards celebrated the 2022-2023 Broadway season, which boasted 40 new productions (up from 34 in the 2012-2022 season) and marked the third-highest-grossing season in Broadway history (behind 2018-2019 and 2017-2018). Yet, attendance was down; compared to the previous 12 seasons, this most recent ranked eighth. So is Broadway struggling to find its footing or thriving and on its way to outdo its pre-pandemic state?

“I think the health of Broadway is intact,” said Brian Anthony Moreland, a producer behind the Tony-nominated revival of “The Piano Lesson” and the upcoming “The Wiz.” “Broadway is 100 percent back. Audiences are coming. That’s why these shows are opening. We’re hearing from new voices onstage, backstage, in offices — and I think that’s what it means [to say] ‘Broadway is back.’”

Robert Wankel, chairman and CEO of the Shubert Organization and producer of “Some Like It Hot,” agreed. “Broadway is actually doing quite well,” he said. “We took our hit during COVID, but the road is booming. Broadway is back.”

Though Wankel conceded, “We’re missing a little segment of our audience.” Which is, perhaps, why some of his colleagues are more conservative in their estimation of the industry.

“I think we all know we’re still in recovery,” said Seaview’s Greg Nobile, who recently earned his second Tony, as a producer of “Parade.” “But I think this season has been one of the more fruitful seasons in recent memory.”

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