By Naomi Serviss / New York City
When Hugh Jackman
got whacked by Covid last month,
The Music Man wasn’t the only thing
in Trouble with a capital T.
It was Broadway with a capital B.
Jackman addressed an exuberant
enthusiastically singing the praises
of the unsung heroes:
understudies, standbys and swings,
for their stamina and dedication.
Unfortunately, as Jackman was praising
the industry’s backbone,
Covid put the kibosh on the show,
claiming its star performer.
Friends peppered me frantically.
“Broadway’s shutting down again?”
“This time’s permanent, right?”
“No way would I set foot
in a Broadway theater now!”
Is the gist.
No one’s into risking hundreds of dollars
on a Broadway promise.
Planning a trip to the city is too iffy, some say.
They’ve been detoured this way before.
Not up for another go-around or rescheduling
or waiting for a refund.
of the mega musical The Music Man
are especially sweating it out.
It’s going to get better, right? What to do?
The entire theater industry has the heebee-jeebies.
Another wide-scale shutdown
would shutter or “pause” more shows,”
à la Mrs. Doubtfire.
In an unusual maneuver
to stave off closing,
Mrs. Doubtfire is taking
a nine-week hiatus.
Performances have been canceled
from January 10 through March 14.
Reasoning? It beats closing prematurely
and losing the pot.
Ain’t Too Proud. has also announced
its closing January 16.
Waitress ended its Broadway run
after multiple Covid-related cancellations.
America Utopia stripped down to
Unplugged & Unchained, a scaled-back show
with nods to David Byrne’s Talking Heads roots
after Covid took out band and crew members.
It’s not easy being theater royalty.
Queen Patti LuPone reassured and pleaded with minions
on Instagram that Broadway was open and
The Great White Way illuminated.
Strict covid protocols may lead to performance cancellations,
but Company, at the Shubert Theatre,
plans to soldier on.
Thanks to the understudies, swings and standbys,
those whose job is to jump in when needed,
many productions go on.
Casts and backstage personnel are
vaccinated and masked backstage.
They’re tested daily, but breakthrough infections
have taken their toll.
Come From Away was slammed so hard,
the show was forced to cancel
a week’s performances before Christmas.
It’s a shame, since the state of theater is dicey at best.
On December 26,
eight of the 12 actors
in the show were subs.
Some replacements for band members also filled in.
Recent news stories have highlighted
the show-saving actors who have
stepped up and in, when Covid intruded.
But it’s not over.
While some shows have closed
because of the devastating spreading infection,
others have paused to regroup.
To Kill a Mockingbird will close
at the Shubert Theatre on January 16,
and transfer to
the smaller Belasco Theatre June 1.
Not great timing for Greg Kinnear,
who just stepped into Jeff Daniels’ shoes
as Atticus Finch on January 5.
Bob Dylan's Girl From the North Country
is struggling as well,
with its last performance
scheduled for January 23.
Producers are eyeing
a possible spring reopening
Most productions have continued.
It’s a scenario likely to repeat
as Omicron continues to be
an equal-opportunity offender.
Audience attendance dropped
to under three-quarters of all seats
during the week ending January 2.
The average seat price was $146.
Lines for TKTS, midtown’s discount theater site,
indicate faith that
Broadway will rise Phoenix-like again.
Speaking of which,
Jackman is back, baby!
Here’s hoping the long-anticipated Funny Girl
will experience good trouble.
With a lowercase t.
See the accompanying story, Big Apple Bargains, If You Dare!
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com