Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Broadway Shows Canceling Performances — Again — As NYC Covid Cases Rise

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At least two Broadway shows have canceled performances this week due to Covid-19 cases within the cast—and others are playing with understudies in major roles—with transmission beginning to rise again in New York City as the highly transmissible omicron BA.2 subvariant spreads.

Broadway audience members at “Chicago” on September 14, 2021 in New York City.

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Key Facts

The new musical A Strange Loop canceled its first performance Tuesday night and all performances through April 10, citing a “limited number” of Covid-19 cases in the company.

A revival of Macbeth starring actor Daniel Craig has canceled shows through April 9 due to Covid-19 cases, with Craig testing positive for the coronavirus Saturday.

Actor Matthew Broderick tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday and will not appear in his play Plaza Suite—but the show is going on with his understudy, as his co-star (and wife) Sarah Jessica Parker is so far still testing negative.

The revival of the musical Company has been playing with understudies in lead roles due to Covid-19 cases in the company.

The off-Broadway musical Suffs canceled its opening night performance Wednesday night at the Public Theater and all performances through Sunday due to positive coronavirus tests, after initially planning to go forward with the opening night performance despite creator and star Shaina Taub testing positive.

Big Number
$28.8 million. That’s the combined gross of all Broadway shows playing last week, according to the Broadway League, with 224,053 audience members attending shows. Individual shows made anywhere between $200,000 and upwards of $1 million, showing how much money can be lost if performances have to be canceled.

What To Watch For
New York City’s cases to rise further. The city is averaging approximately 1,416 daily Covid-19 cases as of April 2, according to the city’s health department—up from an average of 1,025 over the past month—and Manhattan went from having “low” to “medium” Covid-19 transmission earlier this week, as classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 84% of Covid-19 cases in the New York region were linked to the BA.2 subvariant as of last week, the CDC estimates, which is believed to be even more transmissible than the already highly infectious original omicron strain.

Key Background
Broadway shows were shuttered entirely for over a year before resuming performances in August and September 2021, and the omicron surge in New York City sparked a wave of cancellations over the holiday season—typically one of Broadway’s busiest and most lucrative times. The new wave of Covid cancellations comes at another inopportune moment for Broadway, as April and early May mark the busiest time of the theater season, as a rash of shows open in quick succession before the deadline for being eligible for the Tony Awards. Over a dozen shows are slated to open on Broadway over the next few weeks, which any Covid-19 outbreaks could complicate.

Broadway shows still require audiences to wear masks and show proof of Covid-19 vaccination to enter, even as those requirements have been lifted by other NYC businesses. The Broadway League has extended those protocols through at least April 30.

Surprising Fact
Broadway shows had to employ some creative strategies to deal with cast illnesses when the omicron variant surged over the winter. The Lion King was saved by a 10-year-old boy who typically plays Young Simba who filled in as Young Nala when the girls in the case who typically play her got sick, while the musical Wicked called in an actress who last performed the role seven years ago. She had quit acting and was working as a software engineer.

Further Reading
More Broadway Shows Cancel Performances Due To Covid Cases (Forbes)

Manhattan’s COVID risk levels move from low to medium: Here’s what health experts recommend (Gothamist)

Broadway grapples with COVID protocols on 2nd anniversary of shutdown (NY1)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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