This is the longest shutdown in Broadway history

By Dave Quinn
April 08, 2020 11:32 AM
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The curtain will remain down on Broadway for even longer than planned.

On Wednesday, the Broadway League — the national trade association that represents the theater industry — announced that all performances on the Great White Way would remain shuttered until June 7 as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues.

“Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals.” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, in a statement. “Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theatre professionals, and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theatre together.”

Previously, the League had set the week of April 13 as the date when performances would resume. Tickets for many Broadway shows — including hits like Hamilton, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dear Evan Hansen, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, Frozen, Aladdin, Come From Away, Hadestown, and The Phantom of the Opera — have remained on sale for this month.

Any tickets purchased before the new start date will now need to be refunded or exchanged. Ticketholders should expect an email from their point of purchase with further instructions.

Broadway has been dark since March 12, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Broadway League shutting the theaters to help stop the spread of the global pandemic.

The shutdown is the longest in Broadway history, surpassing pauses in performances made after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, as well as the strikes in 1919, 1960, 1964, 1975, and 2003.

The Richard Rodgers Theatre, home of Hamilton, photographed on March 13
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The TKTS Booth in Times Square, photographed on March 13
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Since performances stopped, thousands of people in the industry have been out of work — from actors and musicians to stagehands and ushers and more. Businesses in Times Square that depend on theater patrons have seen considerable dents in their finances, too.

Several shows that had recently opened announced that they have closed permanently. The Inheritance, Hangmen, and the revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf starring Laurie Metcalf and Rupert Everett were among those cutting their futures short. Other shows — like the Broadway revival of Caroline, or Change, new plays Birthday Candles (with Debra Messing) and Intimate Apparel, as well as the new musical Flying Over Sunset — have been moved to the fall.

The 74th annual Tony Awards, which celebrates the best of Broadway, was also postponed. The annual awards show was scheduled to air live on CBS on June 7 from Radio City Music Hall.

Producers have done their best to pay staff, agreeing to an “emergency relief agreement” to help support unionized employees. Several stars, like Rosie O’Donnell, have also been raising money for The Actor’s Fund — which provides services including emergency financial assistance to a wide-array of those employed by the industry (not just actors).

The Minskoff Theatre, home to The Lion King, photographed on March 13
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New York City is currently the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday morning, at least 76,876 cases have been identified — more than any other anywhere else, according to the New York Times. 4,009 people have died.

In total, 397,754 people across all 50 states and territories have tested positive for the virus. 12,956have died.

Many theater stars working in current shows have revealed they’ve tested positive for coronavirus since the shutdown. Among those sick were Plaza Suite director John Benjamin Hickey, Moulin Rouge! star Aaron Tveit, Company actor Matt Doyle, and Come from Away‘s Chad Kimball.

There have been heartbreaking losses to the theater community as well. One of the most prolific playwrights, four-time Tony winner Terrence McNally, died from coronavirus-related complications in March at the age of 81. Later that month, accomplished stage actor Marc Blum died at 69 from the virus. Adam Schlesinger, the Tony-nominated songwriter (Cry-Baby) who was penning the score to a number of Broadway-bound musicals, died in April at the age of 52, also from COVID-19 complications.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.