New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives Broadway chance to reopen in May – Deadline

UPDATE, with responses from Broadway League & Equity New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that state capacity restrictions on New York will be lifted on May 19, including Broadway theaters.

While acknowledging that a spring reopening is unlikely for Broadway due to the logistics of mounting productions, Cuomo has included theaters among New York City companies that will see all capacity restrictions lifted on Wednesday, May 19. The list also includes restaurants, bars, retail outlets, lounges and other live performance venues.

Actors’ Equity called the governor’s comments “unexpected” but welcome. Lifting state capacity restrictions is a first step towards reopening Broadway. (The shutdown began on March 12, 2020, when Cuomo instituted the statewide capacity restrictions.)

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Cuomo acknowledged that various industries, including Broadway, “can make their own economic decisions” about when to reopen. Broadway, he said, has its own schedule: “They have to produce a play before they can sell the play, but capacity-wise, they can all reopen on May 19.”

The Broadway League, along with various other industry insiders, have indicated that a reopening of some shows in September is likely.

In a statement released today, the League said, “We applaud the governor’s recent announcement to ease capacity limits for performance halls in New York State. We are encouraged by this good news, which is a long overdue indication that New York is truly on the road to recovery. We look forward to reopening at full capacity and are working to safely welcome audiences and employees to Broadway theaters this fall. As always, we continue to work closely with our elected officials and will share more information as the plans are finalized.

Mary McColl, Executive Director of Actors’ Equity, said: “We have regular and ongoing conversations with the Broadway League about what the protocols would look like for a safe reopening, and have a clear understanding of their timeline. We welcome this unexpected announcement and look forward to a safe reopening of the theater, on Broadway, off Broadway and beyond, which prioritizes worker safety. “

Cuomo’s announcement today is two months better than that of his political nemesis, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said last week he expected the city to reopen in July (Although the mayor specifically excluded Broadway from that prognosis, again reaffirming the September goal.)

The governor also indicated that the live venues could bypass still existing social distancing requirements by requiring proof of vaccination or negative Covid test results upon entry. Broadway producers have repeatedly and frequently insisted that social distancing requirements are not a critical part of the industry: the cost of directing a Broadway production demands full availability. Whether theater owners and producers will institute a vaccination-only policy remains difficult to say, to say the least.

Many Broadway insiders have told Deadline that an announcement of a partial reopening could arrive as early as next week, with some shows expected to publicly disclose their plans to reopen in September. Deadline learns that fewer than five productions will reopen in September, with more coming out later in the fall and winter. The $ 17 million Music man Revival, for example, is currently set to premiere at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theater in December, with a grand opening on February 10, 2022.

As for Off Broadway, the Free Shakespeare in the Park season at the New York Public Theater returns on July 5, when Happy wives, an adaptation of Happy Windsor Wives, start the performances at the Public’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Watch Cuomo’s announcement below. The Broadway talk begins around 11:50 a.m.

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