Broadway Gets May 19 Reopening OK From New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; September Remains Likely Target

UPDATE, with video New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that all state-mandated capacity restrictions in New York City will be lifted May 19, including Broadway theaters.

While acknowledging that a May Broadway reopening is unlikely due to the logistics of mounting productions, Cuomo included theaters among the NYC businesses that will see all capacity restrictions lifted on Wednesday, May 19. The list also includes restaurants, bars, retail, salons and other live performance venues.

The lifting of the state’s capacity restrictions is a first step toward Broadway’s reopening. The shutdown began March 12, 2020, when Cuomo instituted the statewide capacity restrictions.

Cuomo acknowledged that the various industries, including Broadway, “may make their own economic decisions” about when to reopen. Broadway, he said, has its own schedule: “They have to produce a play before they can sell the play, but from capacity point of view they can all reopen on May 19.”

The Broadway League, and well as various other industry insiders, have indicated that a September reopening of some shows is likely.

Cuomo’s announcement today goes two months better than that of his political nemesis New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said last week he expects the city to reopen in July (though the mayor specifically excluded Broadway from that prognosis, again restating the September goal.)

The governor also indicated that live venues could work around still-existing social distance requirements by demanding proof of vaccination or negative Covid test results upon entry. Broadway producers have repeatedly and frequently insisted that social distance requirements are a non-starter for the industry: the cost of staging a Broadway production demands full-capacity availability.

Numerous Broadway insiders have told Deadline that an announcement of a partial reopening could arrive as early as next week, with some shows expected to publicly disclose their plans for a September reopening. Deadline hears that fewer than five productions will reopen in September, with others rolling out later in the fall and winter. The $17 million Music Man revival, for example, currently is set to begin previews at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre in December, with an official opening on Feb. 10, 2022.

As for Off Broadway, the New York Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park season will return July 5, when Merry Wives, an adaptation of Merry Wives of Windsor, begins performances at the Public’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Deadline has reached out to The Broadway League for comment on Cuomo’s announcement.

Watch Cuomo’s announcement below. The Broadway discussion begins around the 11:50 mark.

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