Broadway was one of the first major live events to shut down, and now, it will be the last major live event to come back. But the good news is that it has an official reopening date after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced during a live press conference on Wednesday that shows can return on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 100-percent capacity. That's a welcome relief for the actors, dancers, musicians, backstage crew and support services, who have been out of a job since April 12, 2020.
"Broadway is a major part of our state’s identity and economy, and we are thrilled that the curtains will rise again," he tweeted. The return of the crowds to Times Square will be a sign for area businesses that the economy is on its way to recovery — although it will be a long road. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, but it's expected that a limited number of shows will be available for the big return day. It's more likely that shows will slowly return throughout the fall because it's going to take some time for performers to get the show back in Broadway shape.
The Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway theatre industry, was excited by Cuomo's news, but they were a little more tempered about their return to the stage. “Nothing beats Broadway. The theatre owners, producers, and other League members will continue to work with the N.Y. State Department of Health and the Governor to coordinate the industry’s return and the related health and safety protocols required to do so," said Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin in a statement. "We remain cautiously optimistic about Broadway’s ability to resume performances this fall and are happy that fans can start buying tickets again.”
Several shows had beaten Cuomo to the punch by scheduling their return just ahead of that Sept. 14 marker. Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations and Jagged Little Pill already have tickets on sale for their reopening night on Sept. 7. Meanwhile. Diana: A New Musical has tickets selling for Wednesday, Dec. 1 and beyond for that show. Updates on other shows are expected to begin rapidly over the next 24 hours as producers announce their return dates. Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked will be making a joint announcement about their September return soon, according to The New York Times. Chicago, American Utopia, Disney’s Aladdin and Come From Away are also planning a September return. Theatergoers who want to stay up to date with the latest information can visit Broadway.org.
Another important factor to stay abreast of is the regulations that might be required to attend a Broadway show. The official protocols haven't been announced, but it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that masks, COVID tests and vaccination requirements might be in place. Cuomo said in his press conference that he prefers "100% vaccine" for theater attendees, but he cannot order that mandate currently because vaccines are under emergency use authorization. If you're traveling from out of state, be sure to know what will be expected of you as an audience member before you buy a ticket.
But no one is probably more relieved by today's news than the performers themselves. It's been a hard year with very little good news — so today's announcement likely brightened their second half of 2021. Actors' Equity Association executive director Mary McColl echoed what many artists were thinking when the governor finally revealed the Broadway news. "Today's news means we are one step closer to the safe reopening of not just Broadway, but jobs for thousands of workers in the New York area," she said in a press release. "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 theatre."