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BWW Blog: Coronavirus and Closings

This is why some of your favorite Broadway musicals are closing.

BWW Blog: Coronavirus and Closings

How have fan favorite musicals like Frozen and Mean Girls permanently closed on Broadway? Both of these shows are screen to stage adaptations that have consistently performed to full houses, yet the curtains have fallen on their Broadway runs. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly was a main contributor to their closings, but not solely because of the loss of ticket sales while Broadway has been shut down. Producers likely decided to close the Broadway runs of Frozen and Mean Girls to invest more money in tours, West End productions, and other future endeavors.

Broadway productions attract both tourists and theatre lovers. However, not everyone can afford to make a trip out to New York City. Consequently, these people are eager to buy tickets to productions that are closer to home. This is the reasoning behind having touring productions and long running productions in other countries. The producers of Frozen and Mean Girls both already had touring productions running before the pandemic as well as plans to play the West End. The majority of touring and West End audiences have not yet seen these shows as they have only been on Broadway, so they are more willing to buy tickets than theatre goers and tourists who have already seen the shows. Why run the risk of selling tickets when Broadway reopens if tickets will rapidly sell out overseas or across the country? This is the exact question that producers must be asking themselves before they decide to close the Broadway run of a show.

Beyond evaluating the best avenues for profits, producers also must consider their ongoing projects and future endeavors. For instance, Disney on Broadway produced Frozen in addition to their long running Broadway productions of The Lion King and Aladdin which also have touring productions and play in other countries. To save money, Disney had to decide which shows they could keep open and where they could cut their costs. Furthermore, Mean Girls will be transformed into a movie musical in the near future which undoubtedly will require a big budget for a quality production and to pay all contributors. This film adaptation will receive a large sum of scrutiny as it will be compared to the beloved, original 2004 Mean Girls. Thus, Tina Fey cannot disappoint and must pull out all the stops, so keeping Mean Girls open on Broadway after the pandemic is not worth the costs.

The final reason Broadway shows are closing during the shutdown is fear of uncertainty. No one truly knows when Broadway will reopen or what policies will be enacted when live, in-person theatre can resume. Producers may desire to scrap their current Broadway projects to develop productions that are conducive to a digital format or limited audience. Producers may also not want to change how their theatres run both backstage and in the house. Uncertainty is an enormous stressor to tackle, and some producers may believe that it is time to move on from theatre until economic and social certainty has been restored. In the meantime, we can hope our favorite shows will stay open and show our love for them on social media. If there is a clear fanbase and wide recognition from non-theatre-goers, then there is no reason to close a show from a pandemic.


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