THE NEW YORK TIMES

Restart of Broadway accelerates as ‘Hadestown’ plans Its return

restart-of-broadway-accelerates-as-hadestown-plans-its-return

“Hadestown,” the last show to win a Tony Award for best musical before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the theater industry, announced Monday that it is planning to resume performances on Sept. 2, nearly two weeks before any other Broadway shows have set their reopening date.

The show’s producers said they had consulted with the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as the Broadway League, on their plan. They said tickets would go on sale June 11.

“One of the themes of the show is imagining how the world could be, and we think it’s important to bring that hope and optimism to Broadway in this moment,” said Mara Isaacs, one of the show’s lead producers. She said “Hadestown” wanted to open in early September for logistical reasons – the creative team is juggling the Broadway reopening with a new production in Korea and a North American tour – but also because “we felt we had a responsibility to get people back to work as quickly as possible.”

Broadway’s 41 theaters have been closed since March 12, 2020, and until now the earliest resumption date has been Sept. 14, a date chosen by three juggernauts – “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Hamilton” – for a group reopening. Two other shows – the long-running revival of “Chicago” and “Lackawanna Blues,” a solo play by Ruben Santiago-Hudson – are also planning to start performances that night.

It is possible that plans by “Hadestown” to start earlier will prompt other producers in New York to reconsider their own scheduling. Virus-related restrictions in the city have been easing in recent weeks, although it remains unclear when the tourist market that has in recent years been a key part of the Broadway economy will rebound.

Isaacs said she would be fine if other shows opted to open early as well. “This is not about being first,” she said. “Every producer has to look at what is in the best interests of their show.”

“Hadestown,” written by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, is a contemporary adaptation of the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The musical won eight Tony Awards, including for best musical, for Mitchell’s score and for director Rachel Chavkin.

The show, which began performances in the spring of 2019, had been seen by 371,000 people before the shutdown; the producers said they believe there remains a large potential audience in greater New York of theater lovers who had not seen “Hadestown” before the pandemic, as well as a base of superfans who are eager to see it again.

Twenty-seven shows have now announced dates during the 2021-22 Broadway season. Among them: “Girl from the North Country,” a musical featuring the songs of Bob Dylan that opened just a week before theaters shut down. The musical’s producers said Monday – Dylan’s 80th birthday – that they would resume performances Oct. 13.

Broadway producers are planning to open their shows at full capacity – meaning no social distancing – and with mandatory masks, although it is unclear how changing conditions in the country might impact that. Thus far, no shows are planning to require patrons to show proof of vaccination, but “Hamilton” has said it expects to mandate vaccinations for cast and crew.

The “Hadestown” announcement advises that “protocols may include mask enforcement, increased cleaning and ventilation/filtration enhancements, vaccination or negative test verification.” Isaacs said it was too soon to be more specific.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that things will likely change between now and when we reopen, so it’s not smart to make a decision today about what protocols will be required in September,” she said. “We will do whatever science and public health officials tell us is appropriate.”

[This article originally appeared in The New York Times.]