By Hannah Olesen
Many Newsie, Wicked, and Hamilton lovers were heartbroken when Broadway closed its doors for the foreseeable future, but now there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We lost a great deal of things due to this everlasting nightmare starting back in 2020. This pandemic affected us: going out to the movies, going out with friends, traditional college life, and Broadway. But if you’re one of the many people affected by this devastating loss of song and dance, you’ll be happy to know it’s coming back to the stage.
Dancers are relearning steps, and leads are dusting off their mics, but tensions are high as some people debate whether or not it’s time to go back to Broadway.
One of the arguments for returning to the spotlight is the countless students, actors, and crew members that Broadway left out of work. A stage manager, Emily Burstyne, from City College of New York, stated this about how she felt after graduation, “Graduating with any degree in Theatre always seemed a little daunting, so graduating with a degree in Theatre when Theatre wasn’t thriving was more worrisome than not, to say the least.”
It’s completely understandable the feelings of doubt and fear these college students felt during that time. Having to relearn everything they were taught through other methods such as zoom was not easy. For me, having a major in something smoothly transferable to online learning was still an adjustment. However, some people tried to stay on the positive side of things as Emily believed that it encouraged people to get creative. It required herself and others to redefine what theater was. She also stated that, “For me as a stage manager, it was a little different in the sense that I couldn’t really do zoom theater to the best of my abilities because most things stage managers practice aren’t performed in a zoom setting. So it did give me a chance to focus on other techniques….”
These “other techniques” Emily refers to were used by not just students but actual Broadway actors, stage managers, and directors as well. A lot of Broadway’s finest took to online performances to keep their spirits strong. These online performances gave as many employment opportunities as possible for the out of work casts and crew. As many have seen on the popular app TikTok, the cast of Hamilton did a performance of their most popular songs on zoom with mics, cameras, poor connection, and all. This was all great and a new way to experience the music, but for most, it was nothing like the real thing, and it still did not provide work for the many crew members responsible for moving props and building sets.
Now that there is hope that everything will go back to normal, people and students alike are excited about the magic only Broadway can bring and the jobs it will provide. But for the people still skeptical about its return, Broadway will be enforcing strict guidelines for its guests.
Some of these changes are as stated on the broadway.org website. All attendees must be vaccinated and able to carry proof of vaccination. Attendees 12-18 years old must also carry ID and proof of vaccination. Children under twelve years old are required to be accompanied by an adult and must carry, “Negative COVID-19 PCR test performed by a medical provider within 72 hours of the performance start time. The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test; OR a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time. The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test.”
One of the shows that have kickstarted rehearsal is The Six, a Broadway musical about Henry VII’s six wives; the show was canceled just 17 months after its grand opening. Some other shows that should be reopening soon, if not already, are Waitress, Hamilton, Ain’t Too Proud, Wicked, Aladdin, and a few more. The warmth of the stage lights and the unforgettable feeling of your jukebox days are just one ticket away once more, but it wouldn’t be Broadway without a few bumps in the road.
With talks now high around the new COVID strain and whether the vaccine will protect against it, there’s more cause for concern even with the strict guidelines. Broadway has been enticing theatergoers by bringing some infamous leading actors and actresses back to the stage, but is it going to be enough? And is it the right decision?
I know I am personally excited to see some semblance of life before COVID returns to our lives. I take peace in knowing so many people are no longer looking for work and that the once empty halls are busy again. My only hope is that people stay safe and abide by the guidelines.
That being said, one thing is for sure Broadway is coming back because no matter what, the show must go on.