After being closed for a little over a year, the most prolonged period in its history, Broadway is finally pulling back the curtain and opening its doors to patrons and theatre lovers alike. Broadway closed on March 12, 2020, after announcing that COVID-19 was rapidly spreading throughout the United States.
Since then, Broadway remained closed for the safety of audience members, announcing tentative reopening dates but then continuing to cancel these dates until correlating CDC recommendations stated it was safe to return. With vaccines rolling out and mask mandates in tow, Broadway is finally starting to allow the show to go on and the hiatus to end.
The first two shows to open, Waitress and Hadestown, returned on September 2nd. Sara Bareilles, composer of the music for the Broadway adaptation of the film Waitress, made her way to the center of the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City to sing the first notes a Broadway theatre packed with audience members have heard since the beginning of the pandemic.
Waitress, a musical about a very talented baker struggling with the grievances of an abusive marriage, whisked its way through the theatre. The actors and actresses sang and danced through a story filled with laughter, heartache and compassion as audience members watched in awe.
The return of something as iconic as broadway is enough to make any theatre fanatic cry. Still, the choice to premiere Waitress led to several teary eyes in the Ethel Barrymore that Thursday afternoon.
That same day, just about an hour after Waitress began, a pair of shiny silver boots worn on the feet of Andre de Shields strutted their way out onto the Walker Kerr theatre stage as the Tony award-winning show Hadestown started for the first time in two years.
Hadestown takes place in a mythological village and tells the heartbreaking story of Orpheus and Eurydice, arguably one of Greek mythology’s most devastating love stories.
Intertwined within Orpheus and Eurydice’s story is King Hades and his wife, Persephone. The story takes place in the underworld and takes audience members down the literal road to hell.
After COVID-19 hit, Broadway soon became one of the industries most affected by the pandemic. As businesses continued to reopen slowly, the lights on Broadway remained diminished. The pandemic left thousands of performers without a job.
Since the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo permitted Broadway to reopen starting in September, national theater tours have also returned. The return of these tours has also brought life to theaters around the country.
The Fox Theatre, Atlanta’s most famous theatrical performance venue, also fell victim to the spell COVID-19 cast over the performance industry. What was once a lively, lit and thriving venue soon shut down. Although The Fox Theatre reopened back in July, Broadway in Atlanta truly made a comeback with Hamilton’s multi-award-winning show.
Hamilton, written by Lin Manuel Miranda, is a musical infused with rap-like songs and modern-sounding music. Hamilton began gaining popularity in 2015 after debuting at the Richard Rogers Theatre in New York City. Hamilton started showing at The Fox on September 14th and will be offering shows until the 24th.
Although Broadway and the performing arts community were hit the hardest during COVID-19, there is a large audience of music and theatre lovers alike ecstatic to return to the bright lights, big performances and busy theatres.