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Broadway Prepares to Reopen in Fall


FILE - Broadway posters outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York on May 13, 2020. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Broadway Prepares to Reopen in Fall
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New York state and city leaders have given permission to reopen Broadway theaters this fall at full capacity. Many Broadway productions are rushing to sell tickets in the coming days to welcome back theater-goers.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says Broadway theaters can reopen September 14. They will be able to decide their own entry requirements, such as whether people must show proof of vaccination to attend a show. Robert Mujica is Governor Cuomo's budget director. He said that selling tickets will permit theaters to find out, before the shows open, how many people want to return to in-person events.

Happy that fans can buy tickets

Charlotte St. Martin is president of the Broadway League. She said in a statement that the group’s members are hopeful “about Broadway's ability to resume performances this fall and are happy that fans can start buying tickets again."

ILE PHOTO: Performers take part in a pop up Broadway performance in anticipation of Broadway reopening in Times Square amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 12, 2021
ILE PHOTO: Performers take part in a pop up Broadway performance in anticipation of Broadway reopening in Times Square amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 12, 2021

Phantom of the Opera, Broadway's longest-running show, announced it planned to resume selling tickets for performances set to start October 22. More shows are expected to announce return dates in the coming weeks.

Mary McColl is executive director of Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 actors and stage managers in live theater. She said the news meant the theater community is "one step closer to the safe reopening" of Broadway.

"We look forward to continuing our conversations with the Broadway League about a safe reopening and know that soon the time will come when members can go back to doing what they do best, creating world-class theater," McColl said.

Some shows will not reopen

The Broadway that reopens, however, will look different. In May, the big budget Disney musical Frozen decided not to reopen when Broadway theaters restart. It was the first time the coronavirus pandemic caused the closing of an established show. Producers of the play Mean Girls also decided not to restart.

But there will be new shows. One is Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu's Pass Over, which is set to reopen at the August Wilson Theatre, the same theater Mean Girls left. And playwright Keenan Scott II's play, Thoughts of a Colored Man, will appear in a Schubert theater.

FILE PHOTO: A worker looks out from the closed St James theater where the musical "Frozen" plays after it was announced that Broadway shows will cancel performances due to the coronavirus outbreak in New York, U.S., March 12, 2020.
FILE PHOTO: A worker looks out from the closed St James theater where the musical "Frozen" plays after it was announced that Broadway shows will cancel performances due to the coronavirus outbreak in New York, U.S., March 12, 2020.

Full capacity is necessary

Theaters see the lifting of all capacity restrictions as important to any reopening plan. That is because the economics of Broadway shows require full capacity. Some off-Broadway shows -- less well-known plays that take place in smaller theaters around New York City -- have already reopened with limited capacity.

All city theaters suddenly closed on March 12, 2020, bringing all shows to an end, including 16 that had still planned to open.

Some shows planned for spring 2020 decided to move their productions to 2021. Among them are a musical about Michael Jackson and a performance of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite, starring Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. But others gave up on their plans, including Hangmen and a production of Edward Albee's famous play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I’m Jill Robbins.

Mark Kennedy wrote this story for the Associated Press. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.

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Words in This Story

capacity – n. the largest amount or number that can be held or contained

resume v. to begin again after stopping

conversationn. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people

give up phrasal verb. to stop planning on; abandon

What do you think of reopening theaters? Have they opened where you live? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

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