Broadway Returns After 552 Days


Phil Gold

Wicked, the popular musical that puts a twist on The Wizard of Oz, is among the first wave of reopenings on Broadway.

Kerala Bannister, Editor

Over a year ago, at 5:00 PM on March 11th of 2020, Broadway theaters shut their doors and stopped performances due to COVID-19. Many other live theaters followed suit, leaving no room for performances that weren’t rehearsed and performed virtually, a far cry from the real thing. Professional actors everywhere found their source of income suddenly gone, and were forced to find another way to pay the bills. After 552 long days of waiting, Broadway finally reopened on Tuesday, September 14th, 2021.


Even when the suspension was announced to be a month long, it was the longest closing in the history of Broadway. After all, the theaters only shut their doors for two days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and didn’t close at all during the 1918 flu pandemic.


Of course, Broadway reopening its doors after a record amount of time closed doesn’t come without safety precautions.


“I believe it’s very easy for people to dismiss rules of wearing masks,” said junior Carly Amoriell. “It would need to be watched and even then it’s difficult to enforce.”


Despite her concerns that some theatre-goers may decide to remove their masks while they watch a performance, Amoriell still believes that the protocols in place are a step in the right direction: “Depending on how different places go about it, I think it could be good, but there isn’t a way to make anything 100% safe.”


Amoriell’s concerns are not unfounded. In fact, in the time Broadway has been back, one show has already been shut down due to breakthrough COVID cases among the cast: Disney’s Aladdin.


Aladdin held its first performance on Tuesday, September 27th with a lively audience, but this show was not devoid of complications. Three understudies performed instead of the usual actors due to coronavirus complications. After the performance, shows were cancelled for the foreseeable future, and Disney has provided refunds to those who purchased tickets for cancelled performances.


“We will continue to provide support to the affected Aladdin company members as they recover,” Disney claims.


Waitress, another popular Broadway show, also faced the possibility of closure for COVID-related complications, although it was quickly determined that only one company member was positive and performances were able to continue with an understudy.


Broadway performers and crew are all required to be vaccinated, as are Broadway audiences, but obviously being vaccinated doesn’t eliminate the threat of COVID entirely. Breakthrough cases could continue to be an issue as Broadway continues to reopen shows.


Despite the risks, Broadway’s reopening does bring a lot of good for many people, especially the actors and crew members who were left without their usual job when the pandemic forced theaters to shut their doors.