CHAPTER 12 (Surprises: the Pandemic)
Originally seen as an “intermission” during which Broadway would rebound within a few weeks or months, it is now generally agreed that the earliest Broadway shows will return is March 2021, one full year after Broadway was suddenly shut down. Audiences who have been polled are not confident that being in an audience of 1000 or more people, with masks and temperature checks, is sufficient to protect them from the Coronavirus, although New York City’s statistics are the best in the entire nation at this point: less than 3 deaths per day (from over 800 deaths per day in April) and an infection transfer rate of around 1% (one person on average will only infect one other person and not spread the virus to multiple persons). There are almost no tourists in Times Square and restaurants are experimenting with outdoor dining only, since indoor dining is still not permitted. Bars that allow crowding have had their liquor licenses suspending or revoked. And yet, many stores and offices are open for business…without crowding.
Quietly, research is being conducted about how to safely conduct backstage activities, but no official reports have been published. “Phantom of the Opera” in Seoul, Korea has been running with full houses, and with supervised sanitizing of props throughout the show…and even there, the show was shut down for three weeks after one cast member was infected.
The Broadway marquees, which are now mostly LED screens, are dark. The streets have few pedestrians, but there are signs of life. Just not theatre life.