Watch CBS News

The Lights Stay Dark On Broadway: No Shows Through End Of May, Earliest

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The show won't go on, for now.

Broadway fans will have to wait even longer for performances to resume.

Friday, the Broadway League announced productions would be suspended until May 30, 2021, at the earliest as the pandemic rages on.

"With nearly 97,000 workers who rely on Broadway for their livelihood and an annual economic impact of $14.8 billion to the city, our membership is committed to re-opening as soon as conditions permit us to do so. We are working tirelessly with multiple partners on sustaining the industry once we raise our curtains again," Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement Friday.

RELATED STORY: Best And Brightest Of Broadway Surprise Times Square With Pop-Up Performance

Outside of the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, home of the Tina Turner musical, a sign says events are currently suspended, but no one on Broadway anticipated it would last this long.

Broadway theaters abruptly closed on March 12, cancelling all shows -- including 16 that were still scheduled to open -- and scrambling the Tony Award schedule. Producers, citing health and city authorities, previously extended the shutdown to June 7, then again to Sept. 6 and again to Jan. 3.

"There's no question we'll be back, there's just a question of when we will be back," St. Martin told CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

"It's hard to imagine what the next eight or nine months are going to look like for all of us," musician Keve Wilson said.

Wilson is an oboist in the musical ensemble for the show "Company," which was supposed to open in late March.

"I feel like we're in a holding pattern, but we do have to make some choices. I talked to a musician yesterday who said she's going back to school for accounting to try to have a new career," Wilson said.

Actors' Equity Association, the national union that represents actors and stage managers, has urged lawmakers to include arts funding and loans to help those who work in the live performing arts.

"My heart breaks for everyone who works on Broadway or depends on it to make their living. Today the Broadway League made the difficult but responsible decision to put the safety and health of their workers and audience first. This is a deeply painful time for everyone who depends on the arts for their livelihood," Actors' Equity Association Executive Director Mary McColl said in a statement. "We are at this moment because, seven months into the pandemic, our nation still lacks a coherent national strategy for masks and testing which could help bring the virus under control."

The impact is widespread. According to the Broadway League, performances contributed nearly $15 billion to the economy with ticket sales, restaurants and hotels.

"Now no tourists, no Broadway shows, everything is closed, no business," vendor Mohammed Abdalmagied said.

Abdalmagied doesn't know how much longer he can operate his hot dog stand, which was once at a prime location.

"Maybe in the government here, if they find a vaccine, maybe they will open before eight months," he said.

RELATED STORY: Plunge In Tourism Dollars Spells Big Trouble For NYC And New York State

But St. Martin says improved rapid testing and the ability to get more people in the theater is the only way shows can resume safely.

"It certainly is possible that many shows will not be able to come back," she said.

Only time will tell if artists have taken their last bow or if the slogan is true and the show will eventually go on.

The move by the Broadway League comes less than a month after the Metropolitan Opera said it will skip an entire season for the first time in its nearly 140-year history and intends to return from the pandemic layoff next September.

In London, producer Cameron Mackintosh has said his company's West End productions of "Hamilton," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Mary Poppins" and "Les Miserables" won't reopen until 2021 due to the pandemic. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., has canceled most previously announced performances and events through the end of 2020, as has the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston.

Broadway grossed $1.8 billion last season and attracted a record 15 million people. Producers and labor unions are discussing ways theaters can reopen safely.

Theatergoers holding tickets for dates through May 30, 2021 should contact their point of purchase for details about exchanges and refunds.

You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.