Craig Ruttle / AP
NEW YORK – A digital marquee in Times Square says it all: “The wait is over.
Eighteen months after the Global Pandemic’s Live Theater closed in March 2020, Broadway takes a big step forward on Tuesday when three power shows – “The Lion King,” “Hamilton” and “Wicked” – make it again. run their engines with new security protocols.
“I think we are all feeling extremely excited,” said Julie Taymor, director of “The Lion King”. “We’re back. I think we can breathe easier even though it’s behind a mask. We can feel relaxed that it works.”
“The Lion King,” “Hamilton” and “Wicked” all staked Tuesday to reopen together in early May after then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo chose September 14 for Broadway to begin hosting at again the audience at full capacity.
The show trio were beaten by the Bruce Springsteen concert in June and the opening of the new piece “Pass Over” on August 22, as well as the reopening of two major musicals – “Hadestown” and “Waitress”.
But the return of the three musicals – the spiritual anchors of modern Broadway success – as well as the long-running ‘Chicago’ and reopening of the iconic TKTS booth both on Tuesday are important signals that Broadway’s most treasured shows are on. return, despite the pressure and uncertainty of the spread of the delta variant.
“We go to the theater for catharsis. Literally that is what we are looking for: to be in fellowship with one another, to hear a story told in the dark and to experience catharsis,” said the creator of “Hamilton”, Lin-Manuel Miranda. “For a while it wasn’t safe to do that. And he’s sure to come back now with the protocols we have in place.”
Marie Altaffer / AP
Ticket holders for all three mega-hits must prove that they are fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine and masks must be worn at all times except when eating or drinking in designated areas .
“I think it won’t feel real to me until we have an audience in front of us,” said L. Steven Taylor, who stars in “The Lion King” as Mufasa. “It’s such a big part of it, and most importantly, I think, after everything we’ve been through.”
The Broadway cast say they can’t wait to get back on stage after more than a year of waiting, trusting health experts to secure the process.
“It’s kind of like when you’re on a plane and there’s turbulence,” said Sharon Wheatley, a seasoned “Come From Away” actress, which resumes her Broadway tour on September 21. “I have to trust the pilot, I have to trust the air traffic controllers. I feel nervous, but I have to understand that I don’t know as much as these people.”
Marie Altaffer / AP
“Hamilton”, which opened six years ago, “Wicked”, which opened 17 years ago and “The Lion King”, which opened 23 years ago, form the foundation of modern Broadway, virtually immune to slowdowns, changes in tourism and rivals.
On Tuesday, they have staggered openings – 7:00 p.m. for “Wicked” at the Gershwin Theater and 7:30 p.m. for “The Lion King” at the Minskoff Theater. “Hamilton” at 8pm at the Richard Rodgers Theater, all three at full capacity.
Another sign that Broadway is returning to normal is the reopening of the famous TKTS booth in the heart of Times Square, where visitors can get discounted tickets to Broadway and off Broadway the same day and the next.
“It’s a big step forward,” said Victoria Bailey, executive director of the non-profit Theater Development Fund, which manages the stand. “To open it up and such a symbol for people that the theater is coming back.”
Marie Altaffer / AP
Bailey says the return to Broadway will be less of a flick of the switch and more of a dimmer, with a slow progression to regular attendance. “We’ll know so much more in a couple of weeks, but you can’t swim unless you can start canoeing.”
For Miranda, rediscovering her visionary show in front of a live audience after 18 months will help the cast and crew, but also Times Square businesses that depend on theaters, like her favorite pizza place. There is nothing like living, he said.
“It’s one thing to see something on screen. And I’m delighted that ‘Hamilton’ is available on screen at a time when we couldn’t go to the theater. But I’m even more thrilled that now it can. to be experienced as it should be, to live in front of an audience, the last collaborator every evening. ”