Broadway has given up predicting when it will be back.
With no indication about when it will be safe to produce theater in New York or when audiences will feel comfortable returning, the Broadway League, the trade association of theater owners and producers, made its shutdown open-ended, announcing Tuesday that its 41 theaters will be dark through at least Sept. 6.
The move paves the way for ticket holders for performances through the summer to get refunds and exchanges.
The announcement makes clear that after the coronavirus pandemic cut short the 2019-20 Broadway season, it will badly hurt 2020-21 as well. Summer business is generally brisk on Broadway, with students on vacation and the city packed with tourists.
Following the League’s press release, producers of the highly anticipated revival of Plaza Suite, starring Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, postponed performances until March 19, 2021 at the Hudson Theatre. The Neil Simon comedy was to begin previews on March 13, 2020, the day after the League first suspended performances.
MJ the Musical, based on the life and music of Michael Jackson, will announce new dates tomorrow, a production spokesman said. It was to begin previews on July 6.
The city’s largest nonprofit theaters previously cancelled their summer seasons, including the Public Theater, which operates Shakespeare in the Park. Neither the Roundabout Theatre nor Manhattan Theatre Club are currently selling new subscriptions for 2020-21. Renewals are available.
Outside New York, the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have opted to remain closed until 2021. Guthrie Artistic Director Joseph Haj wrote to staff that there could be added programming earlier “should the universe smile on us and people are able and willing to gather sooner,” according to American Theatre magazine.
Under pressure from Actors’ Equity and on orders from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the League originally suspended performances for a month. On April 8, it extended the shutdown through at least June 7. In a statement today, Actors’ Equity said the League “took a difficult but necessary action to put the safety of everyone from the audience to the actors and stage managers first.”