Updates On Broadway: COVID-19 Edition


Gwyneth Katker

Due to the pandemic many places have had to shut down, one being musicals. Broadway shows specifically closed in March and it has affected cast members, performers, and the audience.

Samhitha Katuru, Reporter

Of the numerous consequences resulting from the current pandemic, the most unsuspecting yet stirring is the suspension of Broadway theatre. Primarily based in Manhattan, New York, Broadway is a collection of thespian performances or musicals presented in multiple theatres. Initially composed of Shakespearian plays and ballad operas, the theatre eventually grew in variety as it did in fame. Many of the world’s most famous performances are now from Broadway: Hamilton, Mama Mia, The Lion King, Wicked, and Les Misérables.        

Due to COVID-19, however, the theatre was temporarily closed down in early March of 2019. This shocking ramification brought fans everywhere to tears and reasonably so. Many of those who booked tickets for world-famous shows could no longer attend due to the suspension.  

“If I purchased a ticket, I would be shocked, disappointed, and concerned. While I am not an avid fan of Broadway, I understand that theatre is incredible, and refunding a ticket to something important is saddening, to say the least,” expresses IB Junior Sanjana John.

Yet, fans were not the only people affected. The actors and actresses performing in the musicals and plays lost their jobs temporarily. Similar to those running small businesses, performers’ paychecks are minimalized and, their jobs are at risk. The indefinite time frame and nature of the pandemic only furthers the obscureness of the future. Back up side gigs and part-time jobs are what most performers are doing as of now to ensure a steady flow of income.

Lin Manuel Miranda, an actor in the musical Hamilton, is one of the many performers affected by the pandemic. During quarantine, he worked on upcoming projects such as preparing movies and new musicals for theaters and streaming services- made possible by Disney. Miranda also released music in hopes of “calming down” others from stress or frustration due to the pandemic. He and his fellow entertainment professionals established and promoted a charity as well: the Broadway Cares Emergency Assistance Fund. Raising more than $1 million, the relief aspires to help those in the entertainment industry, specifically Broadway, handle or finance corona-caused expenses. The fund has helped most of the performers get back on their feet financially and emotionally, gaining support and donations from millions of fans.

However, Miranda is one of the lucky few to establish himself without Broadway. Many performers, though helped by the charity, are lacking in resources and find themselves in a tough predicament as they may not have enough fame or recognition for a producer job like Miranda. In this case, those mentioned looked for part-time jobs or gigs such as that in a fast-food restaurant.

Besides the performers, the business of the theatre is adversely affected. Due to the shutdown of the entire theatre, no revenue is being generated. Besides possible donations or relief funds, the business of Broadway is under pressure. Much like small businesses and other recreational areas, the economic aspect has been brutally struck by COVID-19. From a financial viewpoint, Broadway proceeded with a whopping $1.83 billion in 2020-shattering seasonal reports- to a fraction of revenue, if at all, earned in 2021. Moreover, as Broadway is a significant part of the Manhattan and New York economies, the state’s economic aspect is heavily burdened. To regain profits, Broadway could operate at half-capacity, but the revenue earned would not be enough to support the operating costs of the theatre.

IB Sophomore Toni Curry states “They could have virtual shows at a lesser price than the regular tickets, but it could still help their profits. It wouldn’t be the same but it’s still a step forward. If that doesn’t work, there is always a possibility of putting plays on streaming services like Hulu and Netflix.”

Curry’s solutions are more than probable. Broadway has already placed the hit original production Hamilton on Disney Plus. Fans everywhere were delighted by this move, and while it didn’t solve problems of unemployment, Broadway theatres benefited thoroughly from the venture.

However, despite the lingering problems, the suspension on Broadway does not seem to lift anytime soon. Recently, an announcement stating that the postponed opening date has been furthered back till May 30, 2021, at the least has been made. While we cannot do much to counter or argue this announcement, we can stay healthy and safe to prevent spreading and receiving COVID-19. Broadway may not be opening anytime soon and may be one of the more hidden consequences of the coronavirus, but it is not forgotten and will not be anytime soon.


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