The shutdown of Broadway in March of 2020 was the first time that Broadway went dark due to a public health crisis.
After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, Broadway shut down for two days. The barriers to attendance at that time were mostly transportation issues. Theatre was a welcome escape from current events.
Unlike this century, the flu pandemic from 1918-1919 did not close Broadway. Other historical closures were due to union strikes, and were measured in weeks rather than months and years.
Theatres all over Manhattan have sat dark for over a year. Now, one at a time, they are turning their lights back on.
The impact of the shutdown will be with us forever. It is changing how we think about theatre and what it does. It is also changing the way we do theatre. Professionals in every aspect of theatre are discussing how we schedule rehearsals, technical rehearsals, previews, and shows. The pause has allowed the industry time to take a good look at itself, what it does, and what it wants to be.
Springsteen on Broadway • Pass Over • Hadestown • Waitress • Hamilton • Wicked • The Lion King • Chicago • Lackawanna Blues • Six • David Byrne’s American Utopia • Come From Away • Chicken & Biscuits • Moulin Rouge! • The Musical • Is This A Room • The Lehman Trilogy • Aladdin • Thoughts of A Colored Man • Dana H. • To Kill A Mockingbird • Freestyle Love Supreme • Tina-The Tina Turner Musical • Caroline, or Change • Girl From the North Country • Ain’t Too Proud-The Life and Times of The Temptations • Jagged Little Pill • Mrs. Doubtfire • The Phantom of the Opera • Trouble in Mind • Diana • Clyde’s • The Book of Mormon • Flying Over Sunset • Company • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child • MJ The Musical • Dear Evan Hansen • The Music Man • Skeleton Crew • Paradise Square • Plaza Suite • Take Me Out • Birthday Candles • How I Learned To Drive • The Minutes
We will be discussing the effects of the pause for years to come.
In the meantime, here is a complete timeline of every show with a scheduled opening as of this writing, in order, with a countdown. Broadway is coming back. This is the time to ask: What has it become?
Determining what is happening on Broadway at any given time can be especially confusing. Snapshots are often offered as are summaries but there’s rarely a view that is panoramic, all-inclusive, or devised in a manner that provides an accurate idea about what is occurring over a length of time.
What we know about Broadway is that overall ticket prices continue to rise and that grosses also continue to rise. What do those two basic stats mean and what else do we know? Those may be the billion dollar questions.
Some of the greatest theatre in the world can be seen on the Broadway stage. Also, some of the worst theatre in the world can be seen on the Broadway stage. In addition, Broadway does not have a monopoly when it comes to quality theatre. You can find amazing theatrical experiences Off-Broadway, and across American in various regional, university, and summer theatres. Of course, that’s not to mention theatre in other countries where, often, theatrical experiences eclipse those on Broadway.
As schools, colleges, and universities begin the new academic year, it’s a good time to consider the arts and their connection to education. Last year one apparently well-intentioned administrator decided that the arts needed to take a backseat. This occurred when Interim Principal of the Harley Avenue Elementary School in Elmwood, which is located on Long Island, cancelled the annual kindergarten variety show. Why was it shutdown?
This was done because an accumulation of snow days resulted in lost instructional time. Some at the school felt that the kindergarten students had more important things to do than to perform in a show. What was that? They had to prep for college exams.
So many reviewers, columnists, and performers are bemoaning the recent bad behavior of Broadway audiences. It’s as if having people in the audience who distract other audience members, upstage the show, and act in ways that detract from the live stage performance are something new. These actions are not. Such behavior is actually normal in the American theatre. If, somehow, you manage to not have anyone act inappropriately, then you truly have had a special live theatre experience.
The new Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) musical Hamilton has garnered a lot of attention and praise. It almost immediately sold out its Off-Broadway run at the Public Theatre, was designated for transfer to Broadway just after it opened to five-star reviews, and now that it’s in previews on Broadway every celeb wants to be seen at what is considered to be a groundbreaking show.
Getting the obvious out of the way, this is a piece of musical theatre that is expertly crafted, directed, and performed. Miranda is a genius, and with director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical director Alex Lacamoire, he’s created a theatrical piece that works on many different levels.
Past and Future Brought Together?
Some pundits are saying that this musical is about the future of America. This is for a few reasons with one being that most of the leads, in stark contrast to our white founding fathers, are being played by men of color. In other words, this is a colorblind production and making it thus reveals the future of what our country can be.
However, more so and more importantly, the casting, which features superlative performances, is not just about what our country might be one day, but what it is now. This musical is a living paradigm of society today, where color lines in the eyes of many of those who are just being born and those who are in their late-twenties to early-thirties mean little to nothing when it comes to working together, falling in love, or creating lasting friendships.
Broadway is this amazing amalgam of shows, ticket prices, theatres, artists, producers, marketing and branding agents, and more. For the past 50 years or so there’s been a lot of concern as to where Broadway is going and what will happen to it. The fact is since the 1960s Broadway has fluctuated from periods of financial stability and growth to decline.
Whatever the case may be in the future, the fiscal, moral, artistic, and spiritual wellbeing of Broadway are all a part of the lives of every theatre professional, whether they are working on The Great White Way or involved in an independent, professional theatre in one of the 50 states. Here are some questions that everyone who is involved in the monetary aspect of the theatre needs to ask themselves and answer honestly.
The 2015 Tony Awards, which will be broadcast live on CBS on June 7, are filled with controversy regarding which parts will be seen live and which will be only available via YouTube. At this point, Tommy Tune’s remarks regarding his Lifetime Achievement Award have been relegated to the Tony Awards YouTube channel. Creative awards, including those for Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical, Scenic Design, Lighting Design, and others are given off air with clips of acceptance speeches shown to the live audience during commercial breaks and the full speeches available later on YouTube. The award for Best Play and Best Musical is not accepted by the writers of such, but by the producers.
Whose Awards Are These?
These decisions regarding which recipients are seen and which are not raises questions as to the reason for and intention of the Tony Awards. The awards are supposed to “celebrate excellence in Broadway theatre.” However, more and more they have become commercials for current and upcoming shows.
The American Theatre Wing notes on its website, “In 2017, we will celebrate 100 years of service to the American Theatre. We have been tirelessly committed to championing and honoring American Theatre.” The Wing created and is responsible for the administration of the Tony Awards®. Each year in their effort to foster the American theatre, they present thousands of dollars in awards and grants and offer a wealth of educational programming. They are dedicated to preserving our theatrical past, celebrating its achievements, and fostering its future.
Controlling the Awards
An article published in the Huffington Post last week noted that often there are 50 people on the Tony nominating committee this year. That’s many more than even the recent past. As an example, in 2007-2008 there were 27 and last year 47. But each year various members of the committee elect to recuse themselves. Of the 50 who are on the committee this season, 11 will not participate. Someone will recuse him or herself if there is a conflict of interest or if they cannot see all of the shows on Broadway. This is the first year that the Tonys have defined when someone should be recused.
In 2011, the New York Times Arts Beat blog offered an article entitled “The Staggering Cost of Broadway.” In it, writer Patrick Healy referenced the revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, a three-character drama that had recently been produced in London and was transferring to Broadway. In interviewing London producer Sonia Friedman about the hit production, it became clear exactly how costly it is to produce a play on Broadway.
Healy wrote, “This ‘Betrayal’ revival cost £350,000 (about $565,000) to mount in the West End, Ms. Friedman said, and an additional £65,000 ($105,000) to pay weekly running costs. By comparison, she estimates that the same production would cost about $2.8 million to mount on Broadway — the standard amount for a commercial play production — and an additional $260,000 or so to run each week.”
The Golden Age of American Theatre is considered to have lasted about 40 years, depending upon how you define it. Starting sometime around 1915 and lasting until sometime in the late 1950s to early 1960s, it was a time that saw the Little Theatre Movement develop, the Harlem Renaissance bloom, Broadway houses multiply and then decline, and great works that defined the American theatre and made the rest of the world respect our dramatists, composers, and lyricists come into being. Broadway was the central focus of this period of stage enlightenment.
Gallagher stars with Chenoweth in On the Twentieth Century.
Peter Gallagher is currently in previews with Kristin Chenoweth in the Roundabout’s production of On the Twentieth Century. Although most people came to know Gallagher through his movie roles, especially the hit film Sex, Lies, and Video Tape (1989), in which he starred with James Spader, Andie MacDowell, and Laura San Giacomo, Gallagher had already been in five Broadway shows before that movie was released and made him a star.
How much do you know about Peter Gallagher? Hopefully, no matter how much you know, you’ll learn something from our 10 Fast Trivia Facts.
10 Fast Trivia Facts about Peter Gallagher
Made his Broadway debut in 1972 as a replacement for Danny Zuko in the original production of Grease.
From 1973-1977 he attended Tufts University where he sang in the university a capella group the Beelzebubs.
He appeared on Broadway as Edmund Tyrone in the 1986 revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night with Jack Lemon, Bethel Leslie, and Kevin Spacey and received a Tony nomination.
He’s been married to producer Paula Wildash since 1983.
In 1979 he played Chuck Haskell in the TV soap opera The Guiding Light.
His autobiographical cabaret show is called Songs and Stories from an Actor’s Life
He loves to play golf.
He has two kids, a son James Gallagher (born 1990) and daughter Kathryn Gallagher (born 1993).
His middle name is Killian.
From 2003 to 2007, Gallagher starred as Sandy Cohen, a Jewish public defender and corporate lawyer, on the Fox television show The O.C.
On the Twentieth Century
On the Twentieth Century is now in Previews at the American Airlines Theatre. It is scheduled to open March 15. The show is a madcap, musical comedy about Oscar Jaffe (Gallagher), a struggling Broadway producer who cannot afford another flop, Jaffe is sure that if he can convince Lily Garland (Chenoweth), a successful film actress who is also his former lover and muse, to come back to the Great White Way in an monumental drama that his career will once again take off. However, the drama, which takes as its subject Mary Magdalene, does not actually exist.
As he fights to get Garland to commit to the new show, Jaffe must also deal with a range of miscues, surprises, and off-the-wall characters, including Lily Garland’s jealous new lover and a religious fanatic. It is all set aboard the luxury train that has been christened The Twentieth Century.