The Broadway League has confirmed what seemed all but inevitable when theaters first shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic: The closure will last a lot longer than one month. Originally, the League, a consortium of theater owners and producers, said when theaters first closed on March 12 that shows would return on April 13. Now, the League has formally extended the suspension of all performances until June 7, promising refunds to those holding tickets for performances before then. “Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement. “Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theatre professionals, and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theatre together.”
In an interview with the New York Times, St. Martin acknowledges that the suspension could well last beyond June, considering the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. The Times cites estimates that the shutdown on Broadway houses, which by definition seat 500 or more people, could last until July or past Labor Day. Still, St. Martin said that she is “hopeful” restrictions will be lifted by the date in June. “If they’re not, we will continue to monitor government restrictions and will advise ticket holders as soon as we know what those restrictions are,” she said.
The shutdown has already drastically affected the theater industry, both closing Broadway productions before they could open this spring (Hangmen and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and gutting the economics of many smaller theater companies. Four Broadway shows produced by larger nonprofit organizations — Lincoln Center Theater’s Flying Over Sunset, Roundabout’s Caroline, or Change and Birthday Candles, and Manhattan Theater Company’s How I Learned to Drive — have all announced plans to shift their performances into the 2020–2021 season, though no dates have been confirmed.
One immediate result of this longer suspension: Beetlejuice, which was already being forced out of its theater on June 7 to make way for The Music Man, will also close early. Its producers are still behind a national tour for Beetlejuice in 2021 and are looking for ways to relocate the musical to another Broadway theater, according to a rep for the show, but that all depends on more certainty around the industry reopening. To that end, the fate of the Tony Awards, the Broadway industry celebration, also remains up in the air, with plans to reschedule and air the ceremony “when it is safe to do so.”