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A Candid Conversation With Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin: Future for Broadway.. what will it be like?

DAME
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https://deadline.com/2020/04/reopening-broadway-charlotte-st-martin-broadway-league-candid-conversation-1202910054/?fbclid=IwAR27I-Gvj_W_4ptQZvzTJ6rkzWld_ogp575bUzopXrzMCaH26PdjcbRPIyg

 

 

The obstacles to a reopening are large and many: Broadway audiences sit in tightly packed venues built when audiences expected (and required) smaller, closer seats; Broadway casts perform together, literally – no distance shots, no remotes possible – and Broadway orchestras? They don’t call their habitat’s “pits” for nothing.

And that’s just for starters. In this extended and candid conversation with Deadline, St. Martin elaborates on what exactly is being done on Broadway as theaters remain dark, what it will take, financially and otherwise, to get the shows going again, what producers know now and what they still need to learn, and why the League is not asking theatergoers – yet – about when they’d feel comfortable returning to the magnificent venues, leg room or not, that help make Broadway a theatrical beacon worldwide.

So, when will Broadway reopen?

HUSSY POWER! ------ HUSSY POWER!
Updated On: 4/17/20 at 02:30 PM
Jarethan
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Sad reading the story, but more realistic than anything stated IMO up to now. Thought I was smart getting tickets for MM for September 15...now wondering not when I will see it, rather if. In Florida from October to May. Once Bway does open, this will be the one to see more than even before...harkens back to simpler times, rousing production numbers, Hugh Jackman, with Sutton Foster the icing on the cake. I can always dream that they will tape this one for posterity/
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HogansHero
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She is saying out loud a lot of things i have been saying both about the reopening and also about filming. I don't think September is possible, for reasons I have said before and won't repeat. I think we are basically losing a full year, and then the question is, what will emerge then. Nothing is going back to status quo ante. 

BdwayLife
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Thanks for sharing this.  I agree—very informative, and realistic.  

Even once they receive the go-ahead, they believe a 6-week turnaround will be required. 

The league also indicated that they were refunding and exchanging tickets up to June 7/20. It never said performances would resume June 8/20.  Fine.  However, if tickets are on sale post June 7/20, I can understand the inference.  (I never suspected Broadway would reopen in June.)

It also indicated that several shows are using advances to pay for expenses during this time period.  I find this a bit confusing, as I thought I read on another board that ticketing agencies (e.g., Ticketmaster) don’t release funds to productions until the actual performance date?  

 

Updated On: 4/17/20 at 04:11 PM
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Jordan Levinson
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HogansHero said: "She is saying out loud a lot of things i have been saying both about the reopening and also about filming. I don't think September is possible, for reasons I have said before and won't repeat. I think we are basically losing a full year, and then the question is, what will emerge then. Nothing is going back to status quo ante."

I could possibly imagine a mid to late 2021 reopening, with about 5-10 mainstays surviving and the rest of Broadway starting from scratch. Expect PhantomWickedMormonChicagoHamiltonLion King, and Aladdin to be among the last ones standing as Broadway rebuilds slowly but surely. It will be harder than ever to get tickets, especially when highly-anticipated revivals of popular shows (mostly with big stars) are announced for Broadway. 

 

(heads down to the orchestra pit during the Exit Music)
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HogansHero
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Here again, we just don't have any way of knowing, or predicting. One could make a reasonable argument that the shows you list, all of which are, at this stage, heavily tourist dependent, will be the last to resurface. It is true that all of them have plenty of money in the bank to finance a reopening, but no one will reopen in the face of enormous projected weekly losses. Like I said, there is not going to be a reversion to what was. (And I think this will be true in many many ways, far more significant than the theatre.

KKeller6
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Whenever it does happen, I do believe there's a chance that prices for everything will be so discounted-flights, hotels, theatre-that we may have more tourists than we think. Sure, a vast majority may feel like it's "too soon" or might be a little more cautious, but there will be a certain amount of people who feel like that if we are at a safer place, that it would be worth the experience. Just a. thought.

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DAME said: "https://deadline.com/2020/04/reopening-broadway-charlotte-st-martin-broadway-league-candid-conversation-1202910054/?fbclid=IwAR27I-Gvj_W_4ptQZvzTJ6rkzWld_ogp575bUzopXrzMCaH26PdjcbRPIyg





The obstacles to a reopening are large and many: Broadway audiences sit in tightly packed venues built when audiences expected (and required) smaller, closer seats; Broadway casts perform together, literally – no distance shots, no remotes possible – and Broadway orchestras? They don’t call their habitat’s “pits” for nothing.

And that’s just for starters. In this extended and candid conversation with Deadline, St. Martin elaborates on what exactly is being done on Broadway as theaters remain dark, what it will take, financially and otherwise, to get the shows going again, what producers know now and what they still need to learn, and why the League is not asking theatergoers – yet – about when they’d feel comfortable returning to the magnificent venues, leg room or not, that help make Broadway a theatrical beacon worldwide.

So, whenwillBroadway reopen?
"

Thank you Dame...the reality is that BWAY may not reopen this year - now that's hard to fathom but we just don't know yet!?

"Anything you do, let it it come from you--then it will be new." Sunday in the Park with George
Updated On: 4/17/20 at 06:36 PM
zainmax
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BdwayLife said: "

It also indicated that several shows are using advances to pay for expenses during this time period. I find this a bit confusing, as I thought I read on another board that ticketing agencies (e.g., Ticketmaster) don’trelease funds to productions until the actual performance date?

"

Was curious about this

Theater'sBestFriend
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OK Broadway lovers - now do a mental experiment: Imagine this interview in a USA with a "war president" who actually used the War Powers Act to get the million tests per day public health experts say we need, instead of playing politics with our lives and livelihood, dragging his feet for that on months, saying it's up to the states (when they can't do without a centralized federal response), allowing a disorganized private sector response with <150,000 and falling, no reagent, no nasal swabs, no true data, fighting a pandemic blind.

Now imagine everyone with antibodies was found to be immune and had a green code not their phone saying they're immune, like in China. Imagine that was required to attend the theater. Imagine everyone who was still sick could be traced and quarantined until they got better. In other words, imagine we did what South Korea and Hong Kong have done. Imagine we had a president who cared more about all the people than his numbers, his base and his re-election. Broadway would open by Sept 1st.

Demand it people! Demand testing, PPE for healthcare providers, science instead of PR, Fauci heading federal Covid-19 response instead of Pence and Kushner, massive support for vaccines and therapeutics. Do what people did in the early days of HIV/AIDS. Start petitions. Send letters. Organize. Act Up. If a couple of thousand Republicans can protest in Michigan to "open things up," a million Broadway lovers can demand a real leader to help us.

Updated On: 4/17/20 at 09:14 PM
Theater3232
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Sobering to hear Charlotte give a more realistic timeline for when she thinks theater may reopen.  CNBC reports tonight that the W.H.O. says there's no evidence antibody tests work or show someone can't become reinfected. We'll just have to keep watching what Governor Cuomo and Mayor Deblasio have to say in the coming weeks.

Updated On: 4/17/20 at 10:46 PM
Theater'sBestFriend
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Theater3232 said: "CNBC reports tonight that the W.H.O. says there's no evidence antibody tests work or show someone can't become reinfected."

Clarification:

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests (the point of care tests that show acute infection) can have a high false negative rate when the chain of handling is compromised by poor availability of proper swabs, training of test administration, refrigeration of samples, timely delivery to labs etc. That is a logistical problem that could and would be solved with appropriate resources.

Antibody (serology) testing, which shows convalescent status, is being developed in a haphazard way by private labs. There needs to be better standardization of the sensitivity and specificity (accuracy) of the tests. That could and would be done if there were an adequate federal initiative. This is the United States of America - until recently, a scientific and technological world leader. Today Governor Cuomo directed then NY State Health Dept. to coordinate standardization at a state level. But the problem needs federal leadership under the CDC.

Whether antibodies confer immunity is an answerable scientific question. If there were widespread testing and follow-up to see if the incidence of new cases were significantly lower among those with antibodies, we would know the answer to it by now. We don't because we have an anti-science administration leading us that denies climate change and now won't provide widespread Covid-19 testing. 

The failure to have an adequate scientific response to this problem is the original sin of this government's handling of the problem in the U.S. and it is threatening Broadway. Trump's base doesn't care about Broadway. Those who do should demand testing and good public health measures now.

 

Updated On: 4/17/20 at 11:30 PM
Theater'sBestFriend
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The NY Times on testing to manage coronavirus in NYC: NYT Editorial: To Manage Coronavirus in NYC, Testing.

Pending the vaccine, get testing right and Broadway is back. Demand it!

Sunny11
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My biggest takeaway was the clarification that the economic model of broadway dosen’t allow for any social distancing measures whatsoever. If Theaters can only open if it operates at 50% seating capacity then they won’t open at all. They won’t be able to pay the bills.

So we essentially have to wait for a vaccination that has had widespread administration or for heard immunity.

Currently just under 59k Americans have officially caught and recovered from the virus. 14 million people a year roughly visited broadway before the shutdown. There are an unknown number of asymptomatic and mild cases that are unaccounted for but still. There is going to be a long wait until there are enough people who will pass an antibody test and want to buy tickets to be able to adequately finance any reopening attempt.

Updated On: 4/18/20 at 03:45 AM
Kimbo
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Jarethan said: "Thought I was smart getting tickets for MM for September 15...now wondering not when I will see it, rather if. In Florida from October to May. Once Bway does open, this will be the one to see more than even before...harkens back to simpler times, rousing production numbers, Hugh Jackman, with Sutton Foster the icing on the cake. I can always dream that they will tape this one for posterity/"

Re: The Music Man, I’ve become a bit of a broken record on this subject, but I’m increasingly being led to believe that there’s no way it’s happening this year, at least not on anything like the current timetable. Whenever this is ‘over’, Sutton Foster’s first commitment is to the next (possibly final) season of Younger, which was due to begin filming in March and to air later this summer (we’ll before her Broadway rehearsals were even due to begin) - so, having been a longtime contractual commitment for her ever since she was cast by TV Land in 2013, and 7 seasons in, that television show is in first position. 

But even if they opted to recast (with Benanti, O’Hara, McDonald), which I doubt they’d do since she’s been with this almost since it was announced and has equal billing on every poster with Jackman, I don’t for a minute believe that Scott Rudin wants to be one of the first shows back if there’s a chance that a) tourists aren’t coming to NY, b) older theatergoers are staying home, and c) there’s any chance of a second outbreak. It’s unfortunate given all the back-and-forth with Beetlejuice and the Winter Garden, and how much has been sunk into marketing since summer 2019.  But I’ve been saying that this show would be postponed for a month now, and the longer the Broadway shutdown continues, and with every new piece of news, I’m more convinced than ever that it’ll just be postponed for a full year, till fall 2021, until well after the country is fully open, Broadway has gradually begun to recover, Sutton’s other prior commitments are fulfilled, and (likely, by then) a vaccine has been created that will allow traditional theatergoers to enjoy this show with no fear.  

Updated On: 4/18/20 at 05:00 AM
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Nothing can happen until there is a vaccine. It is the stark reality. People who work in the industry will have to find other kinds of work.

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Theater'sBestFriend said: "Now imagine everyone with antibodies was found to be immune and had a green code not their phone saying they're immune, like in China. Imagine that was required to attend the theater.Imagine everyone who was still sick could be traced and quarantined until they got better.In other words, imagine we did what SouthKorea and Hong Kong have done. Imaginewe had a president who cared more about all the peoplethan his numbers,hisbaseand his re-election. Broadway would open by Sept 1st.”

Under this scenario, would those who have never contracted the virus - perhaps because they’d followed all safety guidelines - have less freedom to live normal lives than those who had been infected and recovered? That would seem weird, and could potentially create some perverse incentives.

 

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
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A sad and troubling state of affairs. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a "staggered return" of some shows, too.

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"Nothing can happen until there is a vaccine."

This is simply not true. It's defeatist and wrong headed.  No, Broadway cannot open right now. No, Broadway cannot reopen if nothing changes and all we have our "social distancing" measures. However, there are many, many, many ways to live with a virus. We do it all the time and have throughout history. Successful treatments can be developed. Testing and contact tracing could be ramped up significantly. New information can be found helping us prevent the spread. Or the virus can just up and disappear as SARS did. 

Again. I don't mean things will just go back to normal. But a vaccine is not the only answer. And frankly, a vaccine is not in anyway guaranteed. Holding out for a vaccine is the only option and frankly it's a poor one. 

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Wallman2
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I think realistically, in the best interests of  Broadway and its patrons, it would be advisable to wait and reopen  when the perception is that it is completely safe.   Too soon and even one incident happens relating to the virus and the fear factor in attending a Broadway show could be devastating.   Even if its after the first of the year, there still might be some concerns but certainly that's far enough away that we can be hopeful that enormous progress will be made (including potentially a vaccine)  so that theatregoers will feel secure in engaging again.

bear88
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Today's thorough New York Times story by Donald McNeil Jr. is a bucket of cold water even for a Covid-19 pessimist like me. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/health/coronavirus-america-future.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

Aside from the concerns about maintaining a functioning society with a vaccine far away, the idea of people heading back to Broadway shows, or local theaters, seems like a non-starter for the foreseeable future. I wish it wasn't so, but the medical risks and economic damage this virus will cause - and the halting, two-steps-forward, one-stop-back progress predicted in the article - does not make me think theater is coming back anytime soon.

I hope there's a vaccine as soon as possible, for everyone's sake, but that's probably going to be a while. The entire business model of the entertainment industry, not counting TV, is based on a gathering of large numbers of people in a small space. 'Social distancing' doesn't work as a business model in theaters, tourists simply won't come, so theaters won't open. This will also be indescribably bad for local theaters. I already got an email from the Berkeley Rep asking how much I'd pay to stream shows. I ordered a ticket to School Girls, which I had planned to see in person, and watched it online. It was a very good play, nicely performed, but watching plays and musicals on TV - especially good ones - just reinforces what I'm missing.

As for Broadway, I just don't anticipate a trip to New York City for a long while, either because of medical concerns or financial worries. And I'm much more eager to go than the average person.

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blaxx
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The way Broadway theaters are built doesn't help much either. You are literally on top of the person seating beside you. The size of most venues is so compact that room for distancing is out of question.

At least stadiums and concert arenas are so massive that they can get creative.  Buying a ticket to Broadway would just seem to come with a guaranteed infection for free. 

 

 

Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
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blaxx
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Wallman2 said: "I think realistically, in the best interests of Broadway and its patrons, it would be advisable to wait and reopen when the perception is that it is completely safe.

Perception is a great word. Audiences need to believe they are safe to show up again. But they won't come back if they keep believing they are inside a death trap; whether that's accurate or not.

 

Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
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Regarding the remarks about Broadways inability to open with houses cut to 50% capacity: this makes me think that the non-profits on Bway could be the first to open.

While cutting houses may not work for commercial ventures, I know of many non-profit companies who are already looking into this option. The idea is that they could find a big donor(s) to underwrite the loss in ticket income. Generally speaking, This will be easier to achieve for off-broadway companies rather than Bway ones. But I do know that the ones with broadway houses are considering this. And hey, if some fat cat donor and a slashed capacity can get things like Take Me Out and Caroline or Change up and running, it’s worth a shot.

The reaction from various companies has been interesting to watch. Some seem completely in denial about all this and are planning their seasons as normal. But most NYC companies are already cutting down seasons, having delayed start times in the late fall or winter, and frantically trying to come up with strategies for digital content.

One thing to note: as someone who deals with NY ticket buyers on a daily basis, people are definitely itching to get back to theater. There is demand there, even if it is not from tourists (further leading me to believe subscription based non-profits could be the first too come back, as long as they can secure the requisite philanthropical assets)
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Frankly, the question of an audience is only the most obvious problem. There’s no way to escape the fact that many theatre productions require dozens and dozens of people working in close or even intimate physical contact. Dressing rooms, quick change stations, partnered dancing, kissing, singing in each other’s faces, stage combat, and more.

I think we will be seeing smaller scale productions for a while when theaters can resume operation, both to save on costs and for safety, until the virus is reliably able to be dealt with.
"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."