WASHINGTON — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that Broadway theaters can fully reopen on September 14 after closing down more than a year ago amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Broadway performances were initially suspended on March 12, 2020, in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, there were 31 shows running, including eight new productions in previews. There were also eight more shows in rehearsals preparing to open before the shutdown hit.
"We don't want to just re-open," Cuomo said in a press conference Wednesday. "We want to be better than we were before. We want to reimagine New York, reinvent New York, rebuild New York."
Cuomo said tickets will go on sale as early as Thursday for the shows that won't take the stage until this fall.
"The Broadway League is thrilled that Governor Cuomo clearly recognizes the impact of Broadway’s return on the city and state’s economy and the complexity of restarting an entire industry that has been dormant for over a year," The Broadway League said in a statement after Cuomo's announcement. "In the coming weeks, many Broadway producers will begin to announce anticipated dates for each returning and new Broadway production on a show-by-show basis."
The Broadway League, which is the national trade association for the Broadway industry, added that it will continue to work with the New York State Department of Health and the Governor’s office to make sure the industry follows proper health and safety protocols.
"Phantom of the Opera,” Broadway's longest-running show, announced Wednesday it would resume performances on Oct. 22, with tickets going on sale Friday. More shows are expected to circle return dates in the coming weeks.
Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 actors and stage managers in live theater, said the news meant the theater community is “one step closer to the safe reopening" of Broadway.
“We look forward to continuing our conversations with the Broadway League about a safe reopening and know that soon the time will come when members can go back to doing what they do best, creating world-class theater,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity.
The Broadway that reopens will look different. In May, the big budget Disney musical “Frozen” decided not to reopen when Broadway theaters restart, marking the first time an established show had been felled by the coronavirus pandemic. Producers of “Mean Girls” also decided not to restart.
But there will be new shows, including Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over” that is slated to reopen the August Wilson Theatre, the same venue “Mean Girls” has vacated. And a Shubert theater has been promised for playwright Keenan Scott II’s play “Thoughts of a Colored Man.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.