Broadway Goes Dark

Covid-19 continues to impact the theater community.

As you may or may not know, the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting us on an international level has caused all of the Broadway stages to “go dark” through September 6, 2020. This is important for the safety of both the performers and the audience members, but this pandemic could very well affect the production of broadway shows for years to come. 

Many shows, including Frozen, the musical based on the 2013 Disney film, have already confirmed they will not resume once theater doors open again. In addition, many shows that were set to open between now and September, such as the revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, have delayed their openings indefinitely. These pandemic’s major financial consequences on Broadway include the many actors who are not being paid due to lack of box office revenue these past few months. 

These somewhat unforeseen conditions suggest a bleak future for Broadway; however, there is a glimmer of hope. Many of the most popular Broadway shows, both currently running and in production, are looking to start up once the lights of Broadway are shining bright again. These include, Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, and one of my personal favorites, Wicked.

The theater community, from school theater to Broadway, is an extremely strong one, and many actors, producers, writers, and many others are doing whatever they can to keep the spirit of theater alive and well through this pandemic. For example, a professionally shot production of the previously mentioned Hamilton, is set to be available for streaming on Disney+ on July 3, complete with the entire original cast reprising their roles. There are many virtual Broadway sing-alongs, with some of the best theater performers in the country are coming together to sing the showtunes that they all know and love so well. 

Aside from the professionals, thousands of teen “theater kids” in the United States are coming together virtually, through social media, and continuing to share their love for performing as best as possible. Most notably, the teen theater community on TikTok is particularly strong, with some incredibly talented people, all around my age, singing and acting through this social media platform. Many are also hosting “virtual musicals” in which video submissions are sent in to content creators as auditions for specific shows. From these video submissions, the musicals are then cast; it is a great way for young performers from around the country to continue doing what they love to do through this pandemic. 

As a member of the theater community at the Mount, I can say that we are also doing whatever we can to stay together and do fun activities through quarantine. Our current “Coronavirus Time Capsule,” a week-by-week chronicle of various aspects of our lives during this time, is such a fun way for us to continue working together and having fun with each other, even though all of us are staying at home. It allows us to express ourselves and interact with each other as a community without having to come together in the PAC as we normally would. 

Despite the negative impact that COVID-19 has had on the Broadway theatre scene financially, there is a great sense of optimism among the community as a whole. The love of theater is still there, and most of the Broadway performers I have seen on social media can’t wait to get back to doing what they love on stage. Communities of people who love theatre, no matter how big or small, are sticking together and continuing to foster a love of live performance, revealing how important theater is to people of all ages, all around the country.

While the pandemic has greatly altered the way of life for many in the theatre community, I firmly believe that once live performances start up again, due to its current absence, there will be an even greater appreciation and love for the amazing thing that is theatre.

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