The Future of Broadway

Eden Blakemore, Reporter

On March 12th, 2020 Broadway closed its doors. They had expected to open only a month later in April, but like many of us, they did not realize how bad COVID-19 was going to get. It has now been almost a year since Broadway was shut down, and it has had no lights on since. But now, as vaccines are being distributed, and things appear to be getting better, there are hundreds of questions about what Broadway is going to look like when it reopens. Now, most of these questions are unanswered, but there are some things we know. 

Broadway relies on money from audiences to keep shows open, so when Broadway has no audiences for a year there is a drop in the money. This has caused multiple shows to close amid the COVID-19 closing. Frozen was the first musical to announce its closing due to the pandemic. On January 7th Mean Girls announced it was closing, and Beetlejuice had plans to close on June 6th, 2020 that were announced before the shutdown. These are only a few of the shows closing because of the pandemic. 

The biggest question people have is when will Broadway open. This still doesn’t have a definite answer, but they are planning on opening on May 30th, 2021. This date is not definite, and no one knows how accurate this is because of how slow the vaccinations have been. There has been no answer to what this will look like. Not all shows will open immediately, many speculate that Hamilton will be the first show to begin performances again. What these performances will look like we are unsure. In an interview with Variety, Lin Manuel Miranda from Hamilton fame said, “I think when theater comes back it’s going to be in conversation with technology in an entirely different way. I don’t think we go back to a world where a show premieres on Broadway, and then no one can see it unless they have two hundred bucks. I think producers are going to have to start thinking about how they’re going to capture [their work] because in capturing it they can actually capture a much larger audience for their live show.” I hope this statement is true because while I love live theatre, it is costly and inaccessible. A large portion of Broadway’s audience cannot go to the shows because of the expensive tickets. Many hope that they will do more professional recordings of shows because they do not ruin the musical as many movie musicals do, and it is what the show was meant to be; a stage production.

Speaking of movie musicals, there has been an abundance of them announced and in production. Though I do not believe this to be a direct correlation with COVID-19 and the closing of Broadway, I believe it is not any help in stopping these from getting made. Almost every successful musical is getting a movie adaption, Dear Evan Hansen, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Be More Chill, Matilda, and 13 are all getting movie adaptations. They are getting more and more popular because they are a simple way to bring in more money, and more of an audience. Instead of just recording the original Broadway actors performing, in a movie musical it is easier to recast those roles with A-list celebrities. Movie musicals create more revenue than live recording will, so they continue to be made. Even though they just seem to get worse. 

Broadway has been an American institution for decades. It has had its ups and downs, but it has survived. If it wants to come out on the other side of this thriving, it needs to have an upgrade. The future of Broadway is unclear and will be dire if they do not find a way to bring in large audiences when they open.