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  • Writer's pictureReagan Kelley

Covid's Impact on Broadway and Theatre

Over the past 2 years both Broadway and theatre in general have gone through many changes. Between a complete shutdown to online fundraisers to a slow (but long awaited) reopening, it has faced many challenges during the pandemic.

Back in March of 2020 when the first COVID-19 shutdown happened, Broadway was forced to close it’s theaters and let go of all actors until reopening was possible. This caused many people to be out of jobs. With the high rent in NYC and no source of income, it created many problems and stressors for actors who weren’t expecting this. But with problems come solutions. Further into the shutdown, shows began to come up with ways to get involvement through social media. Different Zoom meet and greets, online interviews, and even “Ratatouille the TikTok Musical'' started appearing. Slowly, more coverage came and actors were able to start to find a new normal.

When considering reopening, there were many different variables to consider, like vaccines, social distancing, actor and viewer safety, and many more. Mixed with the spikes in Covid number, the happy day when people could be on stage again kept getting pushed farther and farther. Another factor in this was masks. Masks, while important for protection, make acting much harder. They can muffle words, prevent lip reading (which helps understanding and is very important for people hard of hearing), and makes it harder for emotions to be seen. With a distance in emotion, it creates a distance in connection. Overall many factors put off the opening until almost 2 years later.

This brings us to only a few weeks ago. In mid September, shows started reopening. This included shows like Waitress, Moulin Rouge, The Lion King, and so many others. It brightened theatre up and gave hope for a future. While audience members still have to wear masks and need proof of vaccination, actors are able to show their faces and not be hidden behind a mask.

But, there always seem to be bumps in the road. After only a few days of being reopened, a cast member from Aladdin got sick and the showings had to be cancelled for the time being until full health and safety can be ensured. However, they continue to work through until they can bring the magic back.

With Broadway being reopened, many musical-film adaptations either coming out or in production, and the return of live theatre, it’s time to say that things are starting to get back to a new normal. While we may never be back to how life was before Covid, we can still continue to find joy in the now and how far we have come as a society.

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