Stage Dooring (Re)Halted on Broadway; When Might It Be Back?

If COVID-19 levels fall this week, stage dooring could be back as soon as Thursday.

By: Nov. 07, 2022
Stage Dooring (Re)Halted on Broadway; When Might It Be Back?
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Stage dooring. Fans love it. Actors are split, and were even before the pandemic. And then the pandemic hit. When Broadway returned, stage dooring did not. It was seen as too big a risk. But when New York County had a low community level of COVID-19 transmission, it was back. At the start of last week, hundreds gathered outside various stage doors. A Yahya Abdul-Mateen II fan quoted dialogue from WATCHMEN (which Abdul-Mateen won an Emmy for) to the TOPDOG/UNDERDOG star. Fans of star Lea Michele were lined up even before FUNNY GIRL let out hoping she would sign their memorabilia before departing. But that has all come to an end for now -- New York is now at a medium, or yellow, risk level, meaning stage dooring is prohibited.

The safety protocols currently in place between Actors' Equity Association and The Broadway League state: "Autograph signings, meet-and-greets and backstage tours are prohibited when the Community Risk Level is Red or Yellow." (Oddly, the protocols in place between IATSE and The Broadway League permit autographs unless the Community Risk Level is red, seeming to create a situation where one union would allow autographs but the other would not. However, given that it seems unlikely any IATSE member would be signing autographs, in practice, yellow or medium risk is the relevant "stop signing" guidepost.)

As with everything, each production is allowed to go stricter than the guidelines. In other words, a production could mandate no one from the production signs autographs even in times of low risk countywide. This is similar to how productions can require more testing if they desire.

But right now, productions have no choice -- actors cannot sign autographs at the stage door under the relevant agreement. The CDC calculates COVID-19 Community Levels each week and releases that information every Thursday by 8pm. This week, New York County moved from green to yellow, based on case rates per 100,000 people, new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people and the percentage of staffed inpatient hospital beds used by patients with confirmed COVID-19. According to an Equity spokesperson, it is up to the individual producers to check the weekly data and make sure they are following the safety protocols in place. (It is possible, however, a show's Equity Deputy may chime in if a notification from the production has yet to be disseminated.)

Stay tuned. If COVID-19 levels fall this week, stage dooring could be back as soon as Thursday.