'Broadway is back': New York celebrates return of hit shows

The reopening of Broadway comes as a variety of performing arts venues around the country are resuming in-person indoor performances.
The reopening of Broadway comes as a variety of performing arts venues around the country are resuming in-person indoor performances.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (AFP) - Broadway celebrated the return of some of its biggest musicals on Tuesday (Sept 14) after an 18-month coronavirus shutdown, a landmark moment in New York's post-pandemic recovery.

Hamilton, Wicked, The Lion King and Chicago were all resuming performances, to the delight, and relief, of the industry and theater lovers.

"Broadway is back and it's a fun thing for everybody," said Ms Jenni Milanoski who travelled with her daughter from Boston, hoping to see Hamilton for the 12th time.

Broadway theatres have been gradually reopening throughout September but Tuesday heralds the collective return of some of its most popular shows.

Sept 14 was the date former governor Andrew Cuomo said Broadway would reopen back in May.

All audiences are required to be vaccinated, as are performers, backstage crew and theatre staff, while spectators must also wear masks throughout the show.

Theatre fans said they felt safe returning to indoor performances knowing that everybody was vaccinated despite concerns about the highly infectious Delta variant.

"You also don't have to worry about them not wearing masks. They'll be kicked out of the show if they don't," said Ms Milanoski's daughter Maddy, 18.

Broadway generated around US$33 million (S$44 million) in sales per week across 31 shows before Covid-19 swept the Big Apple in March 2020, forcing the abrupt shutdown that left thousands in the industry suddenly without work.

Coronavirus has killed 34,000 people in New York City.

The resumption of shows comes with the city still suffering a huge shortfall in tourists, which typically make up two-thirds of audiences.

But officials and theaters are confident that New Yorkers, and those who can visit, are desperate to watch live theater again.

"This is a big night for New York City's comeback," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "(Broadway) is in our heart and soul."