when broadway returns
Broadway

What Will Broadway Look Like When it Returns?

We don’t know when Broadway will return right now. When it does return, hopefully some time in 2021, we know that it will be a completely different landscape than how we left it back in March when it was first shut down indefinitely. So for today, let’s speculate about what Broadway will look like when it returns.

What shows will return?

The first question is, of course, what shows that were already playing on Broadway will be able to return when it reopens. I think it’s safe to assume that the big commercial successes will be the ones absolutely reopening – I don’t think that Wicked or Hamilton will be going anywhere. I would almost guarantee these shows will return. The big Disney shows will probably make it too. The Lion King is such a tourist favorite that I’m sure it will make its way back. But also, RIP Frozen.

And some shows will not be returning, like Frozen, as I mentioned above. As the shutdown continues, I am sure we will be seeing more shows announcing that, unfortunately, they will not come back.

What shows will open?

Some shows that did not get a chance to start performances have already announced their intentions of opening in 2021, such as the revivals of 1776 and Caroline, Or Change, as well as the new musical Flying Over Sunset.

The Minutes, which was able to play a few preview performances, will also be coming back to officially open, and hopefully other shows like Six will be able to return as well.

We have no idea as of yet what kinds of new shows will be able to open. There are certainly plenty of shows that have announced wanting to open with no further details, but other than that, we will have to wait and see what producers will be wanting to fund. Which brings us to our next question…

What will the industry look like?

However, there is an even bigger question of what shows will actually be able to make it to Broadway in the aftermath of this pandemic. Broadway is a billion dollar industry, and a lot of that is foreign tourist dollars. When Broadway is back up and running, producers will naturally want to ensure that they can return to making money, even though the industry as a whole will likely not financially recover for years.

I worry about the implication of this. I worry that producers will only want to “play it safe” so to speak for a while. Meaning, they will rely only on shows that they think can be commercial hits. It will be easier to fund a stage adaptation of a movie or another biographical musical than a wholly original work. Broadway has never been too kind to smaller and more experimental original shows (better suited for Off-Broadway) but we may not get to see anything like that for a long time.

Producers will likely try anything to get people in seats. Even when Broadway does reopen, tourism as a whole will probably be down. I think we will see a lot of stunt casting in order to draw audiences. I have heard rumors that producers are considering everything from cutting ticket prices to limiting seats. I do not think anyone really knows what to do yet, and that is the scary part. We have no idea what actually will happen.

We are going to see a complete reset of the theatre industry. Some theatres where shows have closed may stand empty for months, if not seasons. We have no idea what audiences will actually want to see when it can reopen, or if they will want to come back at all. There will likely be strict social distancing rules enforced, from wearing a mask during a show to sitting in every other seat.

The only thing we know for sure is that we have no clue what to expect. However, I will leave you with one final thought. Theatre has survived literally everything that has been thrown at it throughout history. One pandemic will not change that.

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NBC is Reportedly Planning a Big Broadway Special

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

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tony awards digital
Broadway, Broadway At Home, Theatre Online

The Tony Awards Are Going Digital

The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing recently announced that the 2020 Tony Awards ceremony will be going ahead in the fall – but digitally.

The ceremony, originally set for June 7 of this year, was postponed indefinitely March 25.

“Though unprecedented events cut the 2019–2020 Broadway season short, it was a year full of extraordinary work that deserves to be recognized,” Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin and American Theatre Wing President Heather Hitchens said in a joint statement. “We are thrilled not only to have found a way to properly celebrate our artists’ incredible achievements this season, but also to be able to uplift the entire theatre community and show the world what makes our Broadway family so special at this difficult time. The show must go on, no matter what—and it will.”

Only shows that opened by February 19 will be eligible. Though West Side Story and Girl From the North Country had opened by the time the Broadway shutdown started, but the Tony voters were not all able to see them, so they will not be eligible this time around. They will, however, be eligible for next year’s awards. 16 shows that were supposed to open this past season had not done so yet by shutdown, and half of them had not even played a single preview, according to Playbill.

According to the New York Times, the administrators had actually considered combining both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons for one big televised ceremony next year, but ultimately decided that would be unfair to the shows that opened in 2019.

The administrators and rule-makers will be meeting this week to discuss the categories. For many categories there are few eligible competitors. For example, The Lightning Thief is technically the only show eligible for original score. They may decide to eliminate the category completely, or require that a certain percentage of voters support the nominee, even though it is the only one. The same goes for other categories facing similar issues.

They hope to have the ceremony in late October, but further details remain to be seen. Will it be fully digital? Or will it be socially distanced in person? What will the performances be like?

Let’s speculate for fun. What do we all think the awards show will be like this year? All I hope for is a way to celebrate our beloved community.

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NBC is Reportedly Planning a Big Broadway Special

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nbc broadway special october
Broadway, Broadway At Home

NBC is Reportedly Planning a Big Broadway Special

Prepare to see a primetime Broadway special on NBC in October, according to Page Six. The network is apparently planning to “revitalize” Broadway with a special starring casts from Broadway shows.

Page Six reports that NBC has invited every Broadway show to perform, but the issue is trying to get casts together when actors have spread all over the country. Also, some producers are hesitant to spend money. Still, Page Six says a number of shows are confirmed, but some are unable to participate.

Now, the big question here is: is is true? Page Six is literally a gossip column, so not the most credible source. The fact that there are no named sources in the article plus NBC’s lack of a comment does concern me. But…I want it to be true! I want to see Broadway on my TV! NBC has had a connection with Broadway for years, and it seems like something that would be great for the network.

Operating under the assumption that this story is accurate, who will we see perform? I assume most of the big shows will be able to do it – the ones who are guaranteed to return when Broadway reopens, like Wicked and Hamilton. I, obviously, hope to see a performance from Hadestown, and it would be nice to see performances from the newer shows that never got their chance before Broadway was shut down, but I am unsure of the likelihood of that occurring.

Whatever happens, I hope this is real and I hope we get to see this on TV when October comes. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we miss Broadway, and I certainly would be happy with whatever we get. But let’s speculate and have some fun! Who do you think will perform? How will it go about being done? Let me know your thoughts!

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Broadway, Broadway At Home, Theatre Online

Broadway Shows I Want to See Streaming

It seems like all we talk about these days is streaming. But without live theatre, streaming is all we have. And with the immense success of Hamilton on Disney+, all the streaming services are wanting to get in on streaming Broadway shows.

After the recent news about Diana the musical being filmed for Netflix, Filmed On Stage also revealed that the streaming service is eyeing even more shows to add. The rumored shows include Mrs. Doubtfire, Tina and Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations.

Of course, as more streaming services grow interested in adding theatrical content to their platform, I have my own list of what I would like to see. Here are a few of them – and let me know what you would like to see in the comments!

1. Beetlejuice

A victim of COVID-19 closures, this show grew a massive online following due to its popularity on TikTok. While there are still rumors about it potentially moving theatres, even if it doesn’t reopen a professionally filmed version of Beetlejuice would probably be incredibly successful. The show’s fandom stretches farther than those in the NYC area, and it being closed along with the uncertainty of a tour means that the common argument of losing ticket sales may not be valid here. And since it’s produced by Warner Bros., it would be a perfect fit on HBO Max. It’s a fun show with wide appeal, which makes it perfect for streaming.

2. Waitress

Although this one did close a while ago on Broadway, I would still love it if the cast reunited to record the show onstage so it could be streamed. You could even have Sara Bareilles herself star in it, or maybe the London cast which also was a victim to COVID-19. The Sara Bareilles connection would also make it a great fit for Apple TV+, which being relatively new to the streaming game means this could be its big chance to break into the theatre streaming wars.

3. Hadestown

Netflix, are you listening? I would give so much money to have a filmed version of Hadestown. I honestly believe that with the right marketing, it could be as big as Hamilton. It’s such an incredible show, and any streaming platform would be lucky to get their hands on it. Plus, the performances of the original cast are so amazing that they deserve to be immortalized. Please, if nothing else, we need to be able to stream Hadestown.

4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

This one is a commercial success (though, if you are a Harry Potter fan like I am, you may have your own opinions about the content of the play) and though I’m sure Warner Bros. are saving this one for a film when the Fantastic Beasts series runs out, it would be great to have the stage production to watch whenever. I’ve heard such wonderful things about the staging and it would be so nice to to see this play without having to pay the exorbitant Broadway prices. Plus, it just makes sense from a commercial standpoint – it appeals to the non-theatre fans as well.

What do you think? What shows would you love to be able to stream? Let me know below!

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Diana on Broadway Comes to Netflix: Theatre Streaming Wars Continue

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Broadway, Broadway At Home, Theatre Online

Diana on Broadway Comes to Netflix: Theatre Streaming Wars Continue

Netflix has thrown its hat into the musical streaming wars with a totally new move. The streaming service announced that the new musical about Princess Diana, Diana, will premiere on Netflix before its opening on Broadway.

Diana was originally scheduled to open March 31, which was impeded by the ongoing Broadway shutdown. Its new official opening night is May 25, 2021, and it will premiere on Netflix before then.

This is a completely unprecedented move. Never before has a musical gone to streaming before it opened on Broadway.

The show will be filmed on the Longacre Theatre stage without an audience. The full original cast is expected to return. The safety protocols for filming have been Equity-approved as well, though I am curious as to how this will reflect in the film or if it will not at all.

“We speak for the entire company when we say that we couldn’t be more excited to finally be able to share our show with theater lovers everywhere,” the Diana producers said in a joint statement. “Though there is no substitute for the live theater, we are honored to be a part of the quality entertainment that Netflix provides its subscribers worldwide.”

As I have said before, even without live theatre, this is still an exciting time to be a theatre fan. This theatre streaming war just grows more and more interesting as the streaming services try to get in on that Hamilton success Disney+ snatched up. And Diana is an interesting choice. I must admit I am not familiar with the show, but to choose an unopened show that never had a real chance to gauge its success for streaming is, well, an interesting choice.

Netflix has not announced an airdate other than “early 2021,” but I am keeping my eyes on this one. I wonder if it will lead to more shows doing the same with different streaming services. Feel free to speculate in the comments. Maybe HBO Max will pick up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child…but I would just love to be able to watch Hadestown over and over. What do you think?

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Is Disney+ Vying for King of Streaming Musicals?

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Broadway, General Theatre

Socially Distanced Theatre? Berkshire Theatre Group’s Godspell

Live theatre is back? Well, sort of. Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has recently begun performances of “Godspell Under the Tent” in what is one of the first returns to live theatre in America, and one of the first Equity-approved performances as well. (The other approved performance, FYI, is also in MA – it’s Barrington Stage Company’s production of David Cale’s one-man show Harry Clark.)

The show follows strict safety guidelines from the audience to the performers. From BTG’s website:

Temperature scans will be done for patrons at their point of entry. No-contact scanning stations for tickets will be placed at point of entry, spaced at least 6 feet from the temperature scan. Free-standing hand sanitizer stations will be placed at various locations throughout the space. Patrons will be required to wear masks. One way traffic patterns will be enforced with arrows and 6 foot markers on the floor, as well as lines down the center of hallways, to and from the tent, restrooms and concessions. The restrooms will have entrance and exits that are separate and one way. Every other stall, urinal and sink will be marked not usable. A doctor/nurse will be on duty for all performances. Additional safeguards will also be in place.

Not only do they have those safeguards, the cast is distanced from each other as well on stage. Ben Brantley outlined these choices in his New York Times review.

The golden rule here takes the form of their nearly always keeping at least six feet from one another. Whenever they have to cross one another’s paths they make sure their masks (bunched around their necks) are pulled into place. When a chorus sings Schwartz’s tuneful earwig pop gospel — an activity known to let spittle fly — it does so behind the transparent panels of Randall Parsons’s beautifully utilitarian set. (Matthew E. Adelson’s patterned lighting helps keep it from looking like a doctor’s waiting room.)

Now, I love theatre, and yes, I do love Godspell – I think it was a great metaphorical choice to be one of the first returns to theatre. But I have to say…is it worth it? The audience and the performers both have to wear masks. Everyone has to be socially distanced. And though I understand they are all taking massive precautions, it still feels risky to me. The NYT review features a picture of the socially distanced audience and you can clearly see two theatre-goers wearing their masks incorrectly. Despite the safeguards, there are certainly still risks. I worry especially about the crew, who absolutely find it harder to socially distance and be safe while setting up things like the set and microphones.

Though, I have to say, in regards to it being worth it – it does appear that all performances are sold out (this may be because the distanced audience can only seat 75, however).

Overall, I guess I would have to attend the production and see how everything works myself to make an absolute judgment on this show. I do wonder if we will be seeing more Equity-approved productions similar to this. I know that the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, NJ has been doing theatre under a tent as well. I only know this because it is local to me, so I am sure there are other theatres around the country doing the same thing.

To me, however, it just doesn’t seem worth it. There are just too many risks involved for cast, crew and audiences alike. I empathize with those out of work, but this doesn’t feel right to me. Though, with the government resisting funding the arts during this time, I can understand why artists feel the need to put on socially distanced theatre. I wish that unemployment would be extended, and that the arts would receive grants and funding to ensure that when it is time, it can return fully. But I would much rather everyone stay home and wait until we can perform theatre safely.

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No More Stage Dooring? Live Performance Safety Guidelines Revealed

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Broadway, General Theatre, Theatre Online

My Favorite Theatre TikTok Accounts

Okay, I know I may be a little too old for the demographic, but guys, I am obsessed with watching TikToks. They are so clever and funny, and there are so many of them perfectly tailored to the things you like! There is a ton of theatrical content to find on TikTok. I know I haven’t seen them all, but I’ve found a few favorites along the way. So here is a list of my favorite theatre TikTok accounts – and if you have any recommendations, let me know!

@rockysroad

Rocky Paterra is a very talented actor and singer who is also incredibly hilarious. He does the BEST Lin-Manuel Miranda impression I have ever seen. Just watching his raps will make your day. Plus, he writes his own music, too. Please watch all of his videos now. Here’s another LMM parody…and another one just because.

@jjniemann

JJ Niemann was a swing in Book of Mormon on Broadway, and he makes hilarious Broadway related TikToks. Most of his videos revolve around the Broadway experience, like auditioning, getting cast in shows and of course, making fun of Cats. After all, the best kinds of theatre kids are the ones who can make fun of themselves. His videos are also occasionally educational – check out his journey to Broadway!

@katxkelly

Kat Kelly is different from the other creators I’ve talked about so far. Instead of being a performer, she actually was the social media manager for Waitress the Musical. Not all of her TikToks are theatre related (she’s also responsible for a couple viral videos), but the ones that are can be really interesting. Or, the ones that aren’t informative are super funny. Also, she kinda has my dream job, so Kat, if you’re reading this…hit me up on LinkedIn?

@avernomusicals

Averno Musicals is really interesting. If you are really into TikTok aesthetics like cottagecore and dark academia this is right up your alley. It’s more than just musicals, it has turned into a multimedia universe in all genres. Morgan Smith, the creator, already came up with one viral internet musical, Oceanborn. Now, they’ve created a whole universe in Averno, and honestly, it’s pretty incredible. The aesthetics are so relaxing, too. The music sounds really good, the team is young and so talented, and they’re working on recording albums now. I can’t wait to hear them!

@itsmaggieschneider

Maggie Schneider is for my fellow former emo kids who also are theatre kids. (There’s a lot of us, right?) She makes pop punk versions of your favorite musical theatre songs. And they’re so good! She has a great voice, and who doesn’t secretly still love pop punk music in 2020? She also does covers of pop punk songs, and has her own band too. But now I want a Broadway Goes Punk album. Who’s with me?

What’s your favorite theatre TikTok account? I would love to discover more accounts and have more reasons to waste my day away on this app. Let me know what you think!

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How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

The Best Broadway Shows You Can Stream

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Broadway, General Theatre

No More Stage Dooring? Live Performance Safety Guidelines Revealed

Could stage dooring be a thing of the past? According to the 27-page guidelines for COVID-19 reopening released Tuesday by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Stagecraft Safety Committee (IATSE), it is at least for now. These guidelines are intended to be for IATSE members, employers and local unions, but they are interesting to read for anyone interested in how theatre is going to come back. And, despite being 27 pages, it is only supposed to provide general information, according to the IATSE website. Still, 27 pages is a lot, so I’ll go through some of the more important (and interesting) points of the guidelines.

No More Stage Dooring

“Eliminate and discourage the audience and public from congregating outside of the stage
door post performance.”

Like I said above, it’s true! Fans won’t be able to line up outside the theatre for autographs and photos. And honestly, this one is just common sense. While I personally love going to the stage door, as I’m sure many of you reading do as well, it’s way more important to keep the performers safe. Plus, with some of the entitled fans I have been seeing, maybe it’s for the best to keep stage dooring away for a bit.

There will also be no backstage tours given. You’ll even have to grab a Playbill yourself from a rack or table – no more being handed to you.

PPE for Everyone

“All required PPE will be provided and maintained by the employer”

The guidelines require that Personal Protective Equipment is provided to all cast and crew, as well as proper training for how to use it. PPE should be worn everywhere that it can be worn. Everyone also has to practice good hygiene standards and physical distancing when they can.

Special COVID-19 Officers

“One or more autonomous COVID-19 Compliance Officer(s) [CCO] with specialized
training, responsibility and authority for COVID-19 safety compliance and enforcement will
be in the workplace to implement the Covid-19 safety plan and address issues as they arise.”

The CCO will be in charge of a slew of things, including overseeing adherence to things like social distancing, disinfecting, testing, symptom monitoring and anything else the employer decides. The CCO (and whatever assistants they need) should always be available during work hours and should be accessible to all personnel. They also are the ultimate authority in this regard.

General COVID-19 Plans

“Venues must have a written COVID-19 safety plan in place that specifies necessary policies,
practices and procedures. In multi-employer venues there must be a process for coordinating activities related to prevention and control of Covid-19.”

So, everyone needs a plan. Makes enough sense. There are also some more specific plans for how to prepare. Diagnostic testing is good, but as the document notes, it can be imperfect. So it is a good start to reduction rather than a perfect answer. This will depend on how often the employee in question is exposed to the public, and the testing protocols will change as testing does too.

Daily screening will be necessary for workers to ensure that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. If they are, they should not come to work (obviously) and if they develop symptoms on-site, they should be sent home. Those who do test positive should alert the CCO, who will alert those who were close to the sick person so that they can immediately quarantine.

If you want to read this for yourself, I’ll link the document again here. What do you guys think? How different do you think theatre will be when it opens up? Let me know!

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How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

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Broadway, Off-Broadway

All Hail the Wonderstudies: The Best Understudies on Broadway

I have an infinite amount of respect for understudies. Seriously, they are some of the most versatile performers out there. To be able to learn the lines, blocking and choreography for multiple roles takes so much talent. I love when I go to a show to find out I’ll be seeing an understudy. They can often bring a new twist or different point of view to a show. Plus, some of the biggest stars had their humble beginnings as an understudy. These are a few of my personal favorite understudies I’ve been lucky enough to see.

  1. Khaila Wilcoxon (Eurydice, Hadestown)
See Exclusive Cast Photos for Hadestown on Broadway

Hadestown is one of my all-time favorite musicals, as well as one of the best I have ever seen. Part of this is because of Khaila Wilcoxon’s stunning performance as Eurydice. Her voice is insanely gorgeous, and her acting skills blew me away. Her singing alone brought me to tears and gave me goosebumps. Keep this girl on your radar – as soon as Broadway opens back up, she is without a doubt going places.

2. Christian Dante White (Cornelius, Hello Dolly)

Christian Dante White - Ensemblist Award Recipient — The Ensemblist

I have to admit, at first, I was disappointed I wasn’t going to see Gavin Creel…but then it was okay because Santino Fontana was filling in for him. Then to find out he wasn’t there either…but all my fears were instantly gone as soon as Christian Dante White started singing in Put On Your Sunday Clothes. Seriously, I got chills from his first line. This man has one of the most beautiful singing voices I have ever heard. This is another name I’m sure we’ll be seeing in a few years, nominated for a Tony Award.

3. Aaron Walpole (Jean Valjean, Les Mis)

Assistant Sound Engineer Scott Anderson does a pre-show check for ...

He was Ramin Karimloo’s alternate in the 2014 revival of Les Mis. And oh my god, what a voice! Just insanely talented. Now this was a few years ago, but I remember Walpole’s voice causing one of the biggest, longest standing ovations I’ve ever witnessed in a theatre. Honestly this revival was a gift in general and not enough people appreciated it but that’s a discussion for another post.

4. Deon’te Goodman (George Washington, Hamilton)

Stage of Life: Deon'te Goodman '16 - UNCG Magazine

This is the part of the blog where I flex about seeing Hamilton on Broadway. I mean, it was in Summer 2019 but I still saw it! And I loved every second of it. I wasn’t too familiar with most of the cast at this point, so I was really excited to see understudies anyway, because I had no idea what to expect! And I was blown away. Seriously! Washington has some of my favorite songs in the show, and Goodman was incredible! His performance is a huge reason why I enjoyed seeing the show so much. I was weeping during his One Last Time. Another name to look out for again!

5. Charissa Hogeland (Veronica, Heathers)

Charissa Hogeland as Veronica Sawyer | Veronica sawyer, Veronica ...

Technically not an understudy because she was replacement Veronica by the time I saw her, but I couldn’t let this post go without mentioning her. Also, it was actually Off-Broadway, but anyway. Hogeland is genuinely one of my all time favorite performers. I was lucky enough to see Heathers four times when it was Off-Broadway. I saw her in her ensemble role twice, and then as Veronica twice. This lady is mega-talented. She can literally do anything. Her voice is incredible. Her acting skills are amazing. Hogeland was most recently an understudy in Frozen, but with her talent, I know as soon as theatre comes back she’ll get cast in something again. And hopefully this time she’ll be a star like she deserves.

Have you ever seen an understudy that exceeded all your expectations? Or maybe they brought a new twist to a role you hadn’t thought of? Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your favorite understudy stories!