Though Broadway has not yet shifted its April 13 reopening date, many ticket holders do not expect to return to theaters in the near future.
Theatergoers who held tickets for Broadway performances past April 13 have already seen hotel bookings and flights cancelled due to COVID-19, but have not yet been able to receive refunds or information on their Broadway tickets. The official reopening date has not yet changed, but industry members expect an announcement to be made this week about an extension to the shutdown.
The reopening date is expected to be pushed later after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended restrictions on the closure of nonessential businesses through April 29.
In the meantime, Broadway ticket holders have been frustrated in their attempts to get refunds for performances they do not expect to be able to attend.
Sarah Rivas, a teacher based in California, has tickets to five Broadway shows spanning from April 13 to April 16. Her plane ticket has already been canceled by the airline, Rivas said, but she has not yet been able to receive a refund for her Broadway tickets purchased through TodayTix.
“The fact New York is under a stay-at-home order until April 29th and people aren’t getting refunds yet because Broadway hasn’t announced anything themselves is ridiculous,” Rivas said. “The show literally can not go on because the Governor said so, what could Broadway possibly have to say at this point?”
The frustration comes as many Broadway shows and ticketing platforms set up refund or exchange policies following the closure of Broadway theaters on March 12. However, many of those policies are currently only in place until the current reopening date of April 13. Outside of these special policies, most Broadway tickets are nonrefundable.
For example, TodayTix began offering refunds or vouchers for 110% of the ticket cost to postponed Broadway shows through April 12. The ticketing platform plans to continue to offer those vouchers if extended closures are announced, but otherwise must “rely on cancelation notices from venues or productions and comply in accordance with each show,” said Emily Hammerman, vice president of account services at TodayTix.
Similarly, Broadway.com has been offering customers with tickets through April 12 the option of refunding the ticket or donating the cost of the ticket to support artists. In a statement on its site, Broadway.com states that “should any additional performances be cancelled,” customers will receive automatic refunds.
Though many ticket holders understand the dynamics at play, they point to the financial strain of the situation. Michael Anthony Butler, who had been working as an administrative and production assistant in Panama City, Fla., has tickets for the April 14 performance of “Company,” but was told he would need to wait for official word from the show before receiving a refund.
“I understand that typical [Broadway] tickets are nonrefundable, but we’re not living in typical times,” Butler said. “Unemployment is high and people need their money to survive.”
And even if the theaters reopen soon, some are afraid that attending a Broadway performance could impact their health and future employment.
Amber Hardy, a healthcare worker in Oklahoma, planned to see three Broadway shows between April 29 and May 2. Thus far she has been able to receive a refund for “Hadestown,” but was told that she could not receive refunds for “Moulin Rouge!” or “American Buffalo” until closer to the date of performance.
“I would honestly have even been happy with an exchange,” Hardy wrote in a message to Broadway News. “But I cannot come in April due to the pandemic situation that our nation is facing. I would not only feel I was putting myself and my family at risk to come, but I would also be forced to quarantine for an additional two weeks without pay before being allowed to return to work.”
Laura Gross, a small business owner from Washington, D.C., planned to travel to New York to see “Plaza Suite” and “Tina” on April 24 and 25. Neither she, nor a friend she planned to attend with, have received word from either show about refund policies.
If the shows are not canceled, Gross said she still does not plan to travel in the light of the pandemic.
“I’m not going to New York, and maybe we would try to sell the tickets online or something like that,” Gross said. “I just don’t even see how New York is going to reopen [soon].”