Select Broadway theaters will open up again this April for a series of pop-up programs.
The theaters will open up starting April 2, 2021, following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday, which paves the way for reopening indoor entertainment spaces. The Music Box Theatre, home to “Dear Evan Hansen,” is named as one of the participating theaters, with more to follow.
The programming at the theaters will be part of NY PopsUP, the festival of events guided by Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal. Stage director and choreographer Zack Winokur is selecting the programming, alongside a council of other artists.
This is the first time the Broadway theaters will be open to audiences since the shutdown on March 12, 2020.
Per Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday, indoor theaters will be able to welcome up to 150 attendees beginning April 2, so long as the attendees have received a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending the event. The maximum occupancy of the spaces is capped at 33%.
Broadway theaters will use flexible and socially distant seating for these events, per state guidelines. Still, this is not likely to be a mode of operation for Broadway productions themselves, as producers have said social distancing would not be possible due to the financial constraints it would impose.
“We are delighted that fans will once again be able to experience live performance events through PopsUp. While Broadway productions are not able to return just yet, we’re glad that arts venues, including select Broadway theatres, will be able to open their doors and give the public a taste of what we’ve all been missing so much through these dark months,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement to Broadway News.
Broadway theaters are currently closed through May 30, 2021 and many producers are targeting a fall reopening.
Theater operators are coordinating with the New York State Department of Health and NY PopsUp to create safety plans for each participating location.
Ahead of the events at Broadway theaters, NY PopsUP will stage a series of events at other indoor theaters using social distancing guidelines. The flex venues include the Apollo, Park Avenue Armory and St. Ann’s Warehouse.
In response to the news, theatrical union leaders applauded the reopening of venues, while calling for increased protection for their members. Actors’ Equity urged the state to prioritize arts workers in the vaccination process, so that they could safely work together indoors. The musicians’ union said it stood ready to collaborate with producers on safety methods and get its members back to work.
“We urge all producers of live music to take advantage of today’s announcement and begin hiring musicians again as soon as possible, while following all safety protocols and honoring all pre-existing collective bargaining agreements,” Adam Krauthamer, president of Local 802, said in a press release.