How the Pandemic Took a Toll on the Theatrical and Broadway Industry


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“Beetlejuice”, “Music Man”, “Plaza Suite”, “Frozen”, “The Music Man”, “Mean Girls” are many musicals that were on Broadway, but are now closed or postponed until further notice (1). This year has been a rollercoaster, with many people, businesses, and business owners being affected. It is hard to believe that even large businesses were altered by the pandemic, such as one very well-known industry, Broadway.  


First opened in 1924, Broadway has had multiple shows every day and week that are all put together with the effort of the industry, actors, and actresses (3). Sadly, the workers and actors of the industry had all lost their jobs back at the beginning of 2020 when everything went into lockdown. According to CNBC, “more than 1,100 actors and managers” had no work during the start of the pandemic due to production and shows being put to an end (2).


It may come to be a surprise, but the crowded bustling city of New York City lost a lot of revenue due to the lack of visitors this year who make up a portion of people going to see Broadway musicals. There are many other groups that were affected, such as restaurants, taxi drivers, hotels, and a few other supporters who make up about 96,000 jobs in New York City that is supported by the Broadway industry (2). Both Broadway and the job supporters of the industry both help each other out by either taking people to the streets where the musicals are brought to life, or even bringing the crowd of visitors into the seats and rooms of restaurants and hotels. During the shutdown up to now, it has been difficult for both groups and New York City to gain the same amount of customers when Broadway was proceeding.


Broadway was also not the only theatrical group to be affected by the pandemic. Parkland high school’s performing arts program had to make a few changes this year that was completely different for everyone.


Paige Herman, a senior, and the president of the Performing Arts club was asked how the club and herself were affected by these changes.


So far this year, how have your play rehearsals and theatrical classes been affected?

“Play rehearsals were mostly over Zoom (except for 2- the introduction and the vocal rehearsal), and the production was done and recorded over Zoom, so that was certainly something none of us had done before. There was also no Stage Crew then as it was a virtual production so I feel bad for the kids that look forward to that opportunity each year. Theatre class has the same vibe, but (at least in theatre 4), it’s a lot less acting/scene work and more reading plays and methods because we can’t get near each other.”


What is something that is new this year due to regulations put in place?

“Nothing new has been created due to these regulations- everything that happens in a normal school year has either been canceled or modified. The Play was done virtually, there was no Children’s show, the Chorale winter concert was performed following the masking and distances guidelines and was recorded rather than having a live audience (in the same fashion that the Spring musical is going to be).”


Was there a huge setback last year with COVID?

“Absolutely. We were just about to have sitzprobe and start tech rehearsals for the Spring Musical when everything got shut down. It was incredibly disappointing to get so far into the process and then just suddenly have it stop. I’m very grateful for the virtual opening night we did put on last April, though.”


How has your specific group (singer, dancer, etc…) been affected?

“Acting has probably taken the biggest hit out of any of the disciplines. Acting for a camera is a whole different field than acting in a theatre so it’s something we’ve all had to adjust to. Also, blocking and interacting with our scene partners just feels odd when we are focused on either a camera or if we’re staying an appropriate distance away from them. Singing in a mask brings its own challenges, we have to enunciate and project more now than ever before. Dancing has become more exhausting (as any physical activity in a mask is), but dancing is probably the activity most likely to make you forget about the guidelines. After all, we’ll be spaced away from each other which isn’t unusual, and there’s more focus on the rest of the body than on the mask on your face. Partner dancing is the main area where dance struggles under the guidelines. Stage crew has lost a lot of opportunities as things have switched over to the virtual format, and most of the meetings are divided by last name (like how hybrid school is), so they don’t even get to meet as a whole group.”


What were some of the regulations put in place? Has any of those regulations changed recently?

“All of the theatre/singing groups are very strict about keeping people at least six feet apart and wearing masks. We also change locations every 30 minutes during singing rehearsals so we aren’t breathing in the air in any given location for an extended period of time. The only change that has occurred in regulations was at the beginning of the school year (September-November ish) we had to go outside to sing at all, but now we can sing indoors.”


Not only was Broadway affected within the big apple, but the theatrical programs in schools as well. The pandemic has definitely taken everyone on a different path that was unexpected, and probably uncomfortable at first, but they are making the best of it and pushing forth through the ends of the epidemic.