In an unprecedented move, all Broadway shows in New York will shut down immediately for a month on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s orders banning public gatherings of more than 500 people. The decision will almost certainly deal a significant blow to the city’s billion dollar theater industry and the many ancillary businesses that depend on it, including numerous restaurants in the midtown area that rely heavily on pre-show theatergoers.
The Broadway League announced Thursday that the shutdown will last through April 12. The move comes at a crucial point in the Broadway season when new shows featuring big stars are set to open in advance of the Tony Awards in June.
Broadway Theatres to suspend performances through April 12, 2020.
— The Broadway League (@BroadwayLeague) March 12, 2020
The Broadway League said in a tweet that the mass shutdown is intended to protect “the health and well-being of the theatregoing public, as well as those who work in the theatre industry.”
Broadway is an economic power horse for New York, drawing tourists from all over the world. Last year, Broadway shows brought in $1.8 billion on 14.8 million theatergoers, according to the League, which is Broadway’s non-profit trade organization.
While there have been no reports yet of coronavirus cases among Broadway performers or audience members, a part-time usher at two Broadway theaters has reportedly been diagnosed with COVID-19. The usher reportedly worked at the Booth Theatre and the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
The suspension will likely wreak the most havoc on shows that are in rehearsal or preview performances, and that were set to open within the suspension time frame.
Mrs. Doubtfire, a new musical based on the hit Robin Williams movie, is in previews and was set to open April 5 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. It remains unclear what the musical’s new opening date will be. A revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring Laurie Metcalf, is in a similar position, having previously set an opening date of April 9.
Diana, a new musical based on the life of the late Princess of Wales, had set an opening for March 31 at the Longacre Theatre.
A high-profile revival of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, starring real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, was set to being previews this week, with an official open at the Hudson Theatre on April 13, a day after the suspension is set to end.
A revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo was set to begin previews on March 24 and officially open on April 14. It remains unclear if the production — which features an all-star cast of Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne, and Darren Criss — will still open as scheduled.
The temporary closure of Broadway follows a slew of live performance cancellations around the world, including the Coachella and SXSW festivals. Pop music performers including Madonna, Pearl Jam, BTS, and Green Day have also canceled tour dates due to the coronavirus pandemic.