New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a May 5 press conference that Broadway shows, after being shut down for over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, would reopen at 100 percent capacity beginning September 14. He added that tickets would go on sale beginning May 6.
The governor did not specify in his remarks exactly which shows are planning to operate on this timeline—productions are expected to welcome back audiences on a rolling basis based on their individual needs, including hirings and rehirings and varying amounts of rehearsal.
The Broadway League, the trade organization that represents producers, theatre owners, and other key decision makers in the reopening process, confirmed the fall target (albeit without the specific date) shortly after Cuomo's announcement, noting that the timeline still depends on the state government's final approval of each theatre operator's health and safety protocols.
Earlier this week, Cuomo gave Broadway and other tri-state area theatres logistical clearance for this major step, saying that most remaining capacity restrictions would be lifted May 19. However, venues would still have to abide by CDC guidelines on social distancing, rendering it impossible for a theatre with fixed seating to welcome a pre-pandemic-sized audience. Moreover, the industry needs to tie up myriad loose ends before raising the curtain, ranging from new agreements with the various unions involved to reaching and persuading would-be ticket buyers to return.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had previously said he intends to "fully reopen" the city July 1 should state mandates allow. Cuomo's follow-up now echoes de Blasio's conjecture that September is a more realistic, if optimistic, goal for Broadway specifically.
League President Charlotte St. Martin said that Cuomo's decision signifies that he "clearly recognizes the impact of Broadway's return on the city and state's economy and the complexity of restarting an entire industry that has been dormant." Broadway's economic contributions have been at the center of many industry arguments for funding and relief during the shutdown; in the last full theatre season, the League says, Broadway welcomed 14.77 million theatregoers (more people than New York’s 10 major sports teams combined), contributing to nearly $15 billion to the New York economy and supporting employment for roughly 97,000 people.
So far, only new shows have announced exact opening dates. Diana, which played nine preview performances prior to the March 12, 2020, shutdown, says it will resume December 1; the revival of The Music Man expects to begin previews December 20. With this latest update, theatregoers can expect to see campaigns from long-running favorites announcing their own returns in the coming weeks.