The lights of Broadway have been dimmed for too long. It’s time for them to shine once again. After the pandemic completely shut down Broadway, with all 41 theaters closing, the once-crowded Theater District became desolate. Thousands of performers, crew members, directors, designers and more were left without work. The recovery was undoubtedly going to be difficult, but the day has finally arrived to start building Broadway back up.
On Sept. 14, several shows were brought back to Broadway after an extended hiatus. The casts of beloved shows like “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Hamilton” and more graced the stage for full audiences.
However, things are not exactly how they once were. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, there is little interaction between cast members and audience members. There are no more stage door visits or backstage tours. Broadway has taken extreme precautions to ensure that every individual in the theater is safe and healthy.
To do this, theater owners have mandated that all visitors over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated and masked up. This decision was heavily considered, for producers worried that such strict rules might deter people from coming to the theater. It was more important, though, for all audience members to feel safe and comfortable.
There are rules for the performers, too. Even though they do not need to wear a mask while performing, COVID-19 tests must be administered daily, and a positive test will result in isolation for the performer. Understudies will step in when needed and the show will go on.
There are now designated COVID-19 safety officers for each theater, as well. This new position sets a precedent for health and safety guidelines in theaters across the world.
After being out of work for so long, the performers had some work to do to be performance-ready again. The singers have been warming up their chords and the dancers have been dusting off their moves. It’s not easy getting back into the swing of performing after being away from the stage for so long.
Not only did the performers need in-depth preparation for the return to the stage. Lighting pieces, machinery and costumes all needed replacements. After collecting dust for the past year, these design elements were not up to Broadway standards. This kind of revamp in the theaters has not been seen before the pandemic.
Broadway has become a monument of not only New York City, but of the entire world of theater. The return of shows to the Great White Way is cause for celebration, for a single return to normalcy after COVID-19 is the start of many more.