A brand new labor battle opens on Broadway as omicron closes exhibits

A sign indicating canceled performances of “Mrs. Doubtfire” due to Covid is displayed in the window of the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on December 16, 2021 in New York City.

Dia Dipasupil | Getty Images

After over a year of industry-wide closures, Broadway theaters finally reopened in September, but 2021 did not end the way theater professionals hoped it would. The late 2021 comeback had largely bucked London’s touch-and-go reopening earlier that summer: only a handful of Broadway productions temporarily closed due to delta infections. But omicron outbreaks late in the year stalled live theater. Before Christmas, 18 productions canceled performances. Five shows closed permanently in December, citing extreme uncertainty ahead this winter and increased challenges from the pandemic.

If some shows can’t go on under these conditions, how Broadway producers are choosing to close is creating a new labor controversy involving artists already among the hardest-hit by the pandemic.

Kevin McCollum, a prominent producer of numerous Broadway shows including the Tony Award-winning productions of “In the Heights,” “Avenue Q,” and “Rent” says he remains “very bullish on the theatre business,” but he just made a decision that has theater unions alarmed.

McCollum has multiple shows currently running on Broadway, including “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Six,” but as omicron surged in New York City, “Mrs. Doubtfire” had yet to find its footing.

“Mrs. Doubtfire was especially vulnerable because [it] just opened,” McCollum said.

With no cast album (unlike the wildly popular show “Six”), he says opening the show as cases spiked was “like planting a sapling, but there’s a hurricane.”

Doubtfire was open for seven days before an omicron outbreak in the cast forced McCollum to cancel Sunday’s matinee performance on December 12. Due to infections, the show did not reopen until December 22. During the 11-show shutdown in December, McCollum says the production swung $3 million: $1.5 million in expenses and another $1.5 million in ticket sales refunded to customers. But the larger issue was the shutdown’s impact on advance ticket sales, coupled with negative to lukewarm reviews.

Prior to the shutdown, the show sold around $175,000 in ticket sales per day, a relatively decent figure compared to gross weekly ticket sales during the same period in 2019. After the shutdown, that number dropped to $50,000. “When a show cancels a performance due to Covid, we see an increased cancellation rate for all performances,” McCollum said.

The Broadway League suspended their publication of gross-ticket sales during the pandemic, making it impossible to verify box office performance. The Broadway League declined to comment.

The decrease in box office sales and increase in ticket cancellations was particularly concerning to McCollum as the holiday season is the most profitable, bolstering Broadway productions through the slower winter months. Family-oriented musicals, such as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” in particular benefit from the busy season.

“Especially for a family show, there are younger people who are not vaccinated, and with a family of four, none of them can come in because they’re not going to let their child wait outside,” McCollum said.

He remains optimistic that family-oriented productions will have a greater chance of survival later this spring, benefitting from rising vaccination rates among kids and FDA approval of booster shots for younger children.

But in the meantime, McCollum has made a move that has attracted controversy: the show must be suspended, with a plan to return, but no guarantee for any of the artists involved.

An unprecedented ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ suspension

In a move described by unions as unprecedented for the Great White Way, McCollum decided to temporarily suspend performances until March 15. Soon after announcing the hiatus, two other productions followed in McCollum’s footsteps. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” the hit play based on Harper Lee’s novel of the same name, announced Wednesday that it would suspend performances until June (temporarily laying off the cast and crew), and reopen the show in a smaller theater. “Girl from the North Country,” a jukebox musical featuring the work of Bob Dylan, will also end its run this month, but the production is currently in “advanced talks” with the Shubert Organization to reopen at another Broadway theater later this spring.

McCollum says he’s “not just throwing in the towel.”

According to the producer, the cost of the shutdown will be between $750,000 and $1 million. However, if the show were to remain open and experience additional closures as infections permeate the cast and crew, the production would lose around half a million each week. Between a decrease in ticket sales, mounting last-minute ticket cancelations and refunds, the evaporation of group sales (which account for a large portion of box office sales), and a plethora of costs associated with Covid testing (which average $30,000 per week), McCollum says the show would be forced to close permanently if it attempted a January run.

Other producers have made the final curtain call. Among Broadway shows that have closed for good: “Thoughts of a Colored Man”, “Waitress”, “Jagged Little Pill” and “Diana.”

The Temptations’ jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud” is closing later this month. “Caroline, or Change” also recently closed, though it was scheduled as a limited run.

Theater unions push back

McCollum says the nine-week hiatus is the only viable option to keep the production open.

“I have to figure out a way to extend my operation,” he said. “Because with the 14 unions … we don’t have a mechanism to hibernate. We do have a mechanism to open and close. Therefore, using that binary mentality of opening and closing, I had to turn the show off … preserve my capital, and use it when the environment is more friendly towards a family show.”

But according to the NYC Musicians Union, who represents musicians on Broadway, there is a mechanism for a production to hibernate. Provisions in the union’s contract with Broadway productions allow producers to temporarily close for a maximum of eight weeks during the months of January, February, and September. To do so, producers must get permission from the union and open their books to prove the show is losing money. McCollum declined, forcing the production to officially shut down — albeit temporarily, if all goes according to plan.

The union claims the producers of “Mrs. Doubtfire” intentionally chose to close the production (rather than enter an official, union-sanctioned hiatus) to hide their finances. “Our Broadway contract does allow a show to go on hiatus in a way that protects everyone’s jobs and gives audiences the promise that the show will return. But some producers choose not to follow this route so they can hide their finances from us. Instead, they simply close down their shows completely, with a vague promise of re-opening,” Tino Gagliardi, the President of the NYC Musicians Union Local 802, said in a statement to CNBC.

A spokesperson for McCollum’s “Doubtfire” production said the producer’s decision to shut down rather than follow the procedure for a union-sanctioned hiatus was due to difficulties in coordinating a unified deal between multiple unions, who presented the producer with different terms.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 05: Producer Kevin McCollum poses at the opening night of the new musical based on the film “Mr. Doubtfire” on Broadway at The Stephen Sondheim Theatre on December 5, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/Getty Images)

Bruce Glikas | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Actor’s Equity Association – the union that represents Broadway actors and stage managers – says their contract with the Broadway League includes language from the last century that permits a show to close for at least six weeks.

According to Mary McColl, the union’s executive director, the archaic provision was meant to prevent producers from closing a show, laying off the entire cast, and re-opening shortly after (often in a new city) to “revitalize” the production, potentially with a new cast. McColl, whose last day as executive director of AEA was Friday, told CNBC that “it was never contemplated that it was made to create a layoff circumstance, which is what it is being used for now.”

“Even though it might completely comport with that specific article in our contract, it was never contemplated that it would be used in this way. And I don’t believe that any producer, up until now, has actually put it out in the public realm as ‘this is just a hiatus,'” she said.

While omicron has put shows in a challenging financial position, she says producers like McCollum are using that as an excuse to engineer a new cost-cutting tool: producers suspend productions during the winter months when shows struggle to sell seats, a challenge facing the industry even before the pandemic.

“I think this producer really looks at this as a layoff that’s necessary in the winter,” McColl said. “I don’t think it’s just exclusive in their mind to the Covid situation we’re in, but to create a layoff provision in the production contract, which we do not have.”

She says the move to go on hiatus should have been bargained between the union and The Broadway League (which represents shows in negotiations with artist unions). The union attempted to negotiate, but The Broadway League refused. The League recently came under fire for its disparaging comments against understudies, in which president Charlotte St. Martin blamed show closures on “understudies that aren’t as efficient in delivering their role as the lead is.”

In declining to comment, The Broadway League added to CNBC that it “would refrain from commenting on an individual show’s business model.”

As a result of McCollum’s decision, 115 people will be laid off for at least nine weeks while the show is shuttered; an especially difficult prospect for theater artists who have been out of work for over a year. One of those workers losing her job is LaQuet Sharnell Pringle, who is a swing, understudy, and assistant dance captain for “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Pringle says she had to find additional streams of income while Broadway was closed for 18 months. Now, she is leaning on those side hustles again – entrepreneurial opportunities that include teaching, writing, and editing.

While McCollum argues the temporary closure will ensure “long-term employment,” others are not as optimistic about the show’s future.

“This is either going to be a wonderful idea that helps to keep live theater going during a global pandemic, or it is just prolonging us actually being closed,” Pringle said. “There’s the actor side of me that wants to believe in this [but there is also] the actor who has lived through this for going on two years now [that] says it might be too soon for theater to be back.”

Will the cast return?

It remains unclear whether the cast, crew, and musicians will return if the show re-opens in March, as many are still recovering from the significant financial blow of 18 months of unemployment and may look for work elsewhere.

Pringle is pondering another career, like many on Broadway, looking for work in less volatile sectors of the entertainment industry. “I’m auditioning for as much television and film as I can to get work that way,” she said. While she doesn’t think ongoing closures will dry up Broadway’s pool of talent, she says it will “severely injure it.”

She wants to continue with “Mrs. Doubtfire” but said, “I have to be smart, business-wise, and keep all my options open. … Actors care about the projects we’re attached to, but we also have to think about our livelihoods.”

“It’s been painful,” McCollum said. “There’s nothing harder than working in the theater.”

McCollum says Broadway’s need for mask-less employees coupled with a live performance poses a unique challenge to the theatre industry, in which Covid is more likely to spread and interfere with operations.

Another issue hitting many Broadway productions is the absence of older patrons, which theater heavily relies on. For the 2018-2019 season, the Broadway theatergoer was on average 42.3 years old. Conversely, film audiences skew younger. According to PostTrak’s Motion Picture Industry Survey, those aged 18-24 represent the largest demographic among moviegoers.

Despite the challenges, he insists that his team is “ready to do whatever we have to do to re-open the show in March” and he says those who want to return to the production can have their jobs back.

No guarantees

However, according to both unions, McCollum has not guaranteed that “Mrs. Doubtfire” will return in March, nor has he contractually guaranteed that the current workers will remain with the show when it is scheduled to re-open. If he had closed the show temporarily under the musicians’ union’s contractual provisions, he would be obligated to re-hire all musicians, according to their union, when the show resumes performances.

“Stopping a show abruptly and firing everyone creates a financial shock to our musicians and the other hardworking theater professionals,” Gagliardi said. “When a show closes like this, none of the artists have a guarantee of being re-hired when, or if, the show reopens. Artists deserve a written guarantee that they will be re-hired.”

The unions are collectively perplexed by McCollum’s resistance to working out a deal.

“If in fact, they’re saying we have to do this because we don’t have enough money to keep the show running, and we want to save enough money to reopen the show at a time when we think people will buy tickets, why would they not put that in writing so that the actors, and all the other workers, have some security, because everybody’s laid off,” McColl said.

Producers are also not obligated to re-hire the cast under the same terms of their original contract. In other words, the union will have to renegotiate the contracts when the show re-opens, and the actors could be paid less as a result.

The spokesman for the Doubtfire production said there are no guarantees to anyone who works on the show that it will re-open. “The show has closed. Kevin has said he will be offering everyone on the show their jobs back on March 15, if they want to come back,” the spokesman said. But he said anyone associated with the production has “no obligation to come back to the show if we don’t want to and we are free to take other employment if we wish.”

“When a show closes, their contract ends. Their contract is just negated regardless of how long it was supposed to run for,” outgoing AEA executive director McColl said, who added the union will be taking up issues related to the McCollum decision in its next negotiations, though she will no longer be leading it. “If they are an actor or stage manager who earns above the union minimum, which a lot of actors and stage managers do, they’re able to negotiate over scale. Without a guarantee that they’ll come back at that dollar amount, it’s possible that that producer would offer them less money to come back.”

McColl says that in negotiations with McCollum, the producer refused to put his words in writing. Although he has made a verbal “promise,” McColl says, “there is no guarantee that that’s going to happen,” and that is a difficult position for all of the workers, including actors, stage managers, musicians, stagehands and wardrobe workers on “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

To make matters worse, equity members’ health insurance is based on the number of weeks they work, and many workers will be unable to gain access to unemployment benefits, as some have not worked long enough since the 18-month shutdown to qualify.

Union officials are concerned that other shows, like “Mockingbird” and “Girl from North Country” have done, will enter similar hiatuses during slow months, dealing a significant blow to workers in the entertainment industry who will be without pay and health insurance while productions wait to open in a more fiscally advantageous environment.

The situations are different. Mockingbird is downsizing and moving to a new theater, while the Dylan musical is working on a new reopening plan. Unlike Doubtfire, they were not in negotiations with unions that fell apart. Neither union commented on these shows to CNBC, but expressed concerns about the general trend of going on hiatus.

Producers for “Mockingbird” and “Girl from North Country” could not be immediately reached for comment.

“It’s just a terrible circumstance that our members find themselves in, and the fact that it is now being picked up by other shows is a really terrible situation,” McColl said. “If an employer wants something, usually the negotiation provides something in return for the worker. I see that coming for The Broadway League and their members. I see that coming.”

Missed this year’s CNBC’s At Work summit? Access the full sessions on demand at https://www.cnbcevents.com/worksummit/

With Hamilton, Disney, Depraved ticket gross sales gradual, Broadway is not again

Hamilton im Richard Rodgers Theatre in der Nähe des Times Square bleibt nach den am 15. Januar 2021 in New York City verhängten Beschränkungen zur Verlangsamung der Ausbreitung des Coronavirus geschlossen.

Cindy Ord | Getty Images

In eine Broadway-Show zu investieren ist ein riskantes Unterfangen: Nur eine von fünf Produktionen amortisiert ihre Investition. Aber die 20% der lukrativen Produktionen – wie „Hamilton“ – ziehen oft ein massive Einnahmen für ihre Anleger.

Aber das war vor Covid.

Da die New Yorker Theaterindustrie seit über einem Jahr geschlossen ist und die Theaterbesucher zögern, in überfüllte Innenräume inmitten einer deutliche Steigerung bei Covid-Fällen im Zusammenhang mit der Delta-Variante haben die Hersteller Grund zur Sorge. Der Ticketverkauf boomt nicht wieder.

Am 14. September werden drei hochprofitable Mega-Musicals: „Hamilton“, „Wicked“ und „The Lion King“ zu den ersten Broadway-Musicals mit 100-prozentiger Auslastung gehören. Obwohl Tickets seit Monaten im Verkauf sind, weder “Böse” Noch “Der König der Löwen” – die beiden umsatzstärksten Musicals der Geschichte – ausverkauft in der ersten Aufführungswoche. “Hamilton”, das historisch gesehen monatelang innerhalb von Minuten ausverkauft war, hat auch in der Eröffnungswoche reichlich Verfügbarkeit. Zwischen dem 14. September 2021 und Juni 5, 2022, nur eine Aufführung von “Hamilton” ist ausverkauft.

“Wicked”-Produzenten lehnten eine Stellungnahme ab. Die Produzenten von “Hamilton” reagierten nicht auf Anfragen nach Kommentaren.

John Kenrick, ein amerikanischer Theaterhistoriker, Texter und Theaterproduzent, der an mehreren Broadway-Musicalproduktionen mitgewirkt hat, darunter die Wiederaufnahme von “Grease” und “Rent” von 1994, sagt, dass Broadway-Produzenten großen Grund zur Besorgnis haben. “Jede Produktion, unabhängig von ihrer Größe, steht vor der Frage von Leben und Tod”, sagte er.

Sowohl am Broadway als auch außerhalb führen die Produzenten von Live-Events die schleppenden Ticketverkäufe auf die durch die Delta-Variante verursachte Branchenvolatilität zurück. Michael Rosenberg, Geschäftsführer des McCarter Theatre, einem großen Regionaltheater in Princeton, NJ. und ehemaliger Geschäftsführer des La Jolla Playhouse in Kalifornien, sagte, es sei zu erwarten, dass die Theaterbesucher zögern werden, aber das ist kein Grund, die Show zu stoppen.

“Wenn Shows wiedereröffnet werden, treffen die Leute ihre Kaufentscheidungen viel näher am Aufführungsdatum, als wir es gewohnt sind”, sagte Rosenberg. “Die Leute werden etwas vorsichtiger sein, wenn es um [buying tickets] acht Wochen, neun Wochen, zehn Wochen aus.”

Die Pandemie hat schon gezwungen Fünf Broadway-Produktionen schließen und verschoben die Eröffnungstermine von sieben anderen Produktionen – von denen viele Schicksale unbekannt sind.

Sollte der Broadway seine Chance ergreifen?

Während die Wiedereröffnung des Broadways vor zwei Monaten auf sicherere Füße gewirkt haben mag, stellt der Anstieg der Covid-Fälle aufgrund der hoch übertragbaren Delta-Variante die Entscheidung zur Wiedereröffnung im September in Frage.

“Die Theaterbesucher wählen mit ihren Dollars”, sagte Kenrick. “Wenn Sie das überstürzen, wird es Sie viel mehr kosten, als wenn Sie es langsam und stetig angehen.”

Während die Broadway League bekannt gab Maße am 30. Juli, um die Ausbreitung von Covid zu verhindern – etwa Masken- und Impfpflicht für alle Broadway-Theater – bleibt Kenrick skeptisch.

Als Zeichen der Unsicherheit gab die Broadway League dies bekannt werden für die Saison 2021/22 keine Kinokassen-Einnahmen ausgeben, eine Entscheidung basierte auf Faktoren wie der gestaffelten Einführung von wiederkehrenden und neuen Produktionen und erwarteten Schwankungen in den Aufführungsplänen.

Londons äquivalentes Wiedereröffnungsexperiment weckt kein Vertrauen.

Am 19. Juli versuchte das Londoner West End wieder zu öffnen, als die Kapazitätsbeschränkungen aufgehoben wurden. Andrew Lloyd Webbers 8,1 Millionen US-Dollar Produktion von “Aschenputtel“ sagte seine Premiere am Abend ab, nachdem ein Darsteller positiv auf Covid getestet worden war. Lloyd Webber unterbrach die Aufführungen am 19. Juli auf unbestimmte Zeit und kündigte am 23. Juli an, dass die Produktion am 18. August eröffnet würde Der TelegraphLloyd Webber erklärte: “Wer weiß, wann wir hier öffnen? 2084?”

Andrew Lloyd Webber reagierte über seine Firma nicht auf eine Bitte um Stellungnahme.

Andere Produktionen in London, darunter “Hairspray”, “Romeo & Julia”, “Bach and Sons” und “The Prince of Egypt”, sagten Auftritte wegen bestätigter oder vermuteter Covid-Fälle ab. Das Londoner Kolosseum, wo “Hairspray” derzeit auftritt, “ermutigt” lediglich zu Gesichtsbedeckungen und erfordert keine Impfung der Kunden. London hat mehrere Theaterorganisationen, aber keine setzt Covid-Richtlinien wie die Broadway League durch, die hauptsächlich auf „jüngste Richtlinien der Regierung“ verweisen.

Kenrick glaubt, dass eine erfolgreiche Wiedereröffnung nur erfolgen kann, wenn die Produzenten warten, bis die Pandemie unter Kontrolle ist. Ansonsten erleidet der Broadway das gleiche Schicksal wie London: Die Produktionen werden wochenlang geschlossen, um dann für einige Tage zu öffnen, bevor sie wieder schließen. Die finanziellen Folgen dieser Strategie sind potenziell enorm.

“Covid funktioniert nicht in unserem Kalender”, sagte er. “Unsere finanziellen Bedürfnisse sind uns egal. Bis alle vernünftiger sind, werden wir einen Preis dafür zahlen.”

Ein Mann trägt eine Maske, um die Ausbreitung der Coronavirus-Krankheit (COVID-19) zu verhindern, während er durch das Theaterviertel am Times Square geht, da die hoch übertragbare Delta-Variante in New York City, USA, Juli zu einem Anstieg der Infektionen geführt hat 30, 2021.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

Matt Ross, ein Produzent des Broadway-Stücks “Pass Over”, das letzte Woche für die Vorschau auf volle Kapazität geöffnet wurde, sagt, der Broadway sollte die Wiedereröffnung nicht verschieben. Die Show hat eine begrenzte Laufzeit von neun Wochen, und der Produzent sagte CNBC, dass sie sich „gut verkauft“, obwohl sie nicht ausverkauft ist – aber es ist eher eine neue dramatische Produktion als ein Mega-Hit-Musical. In einem Theater mit rund 1.200 Plätzen standen für eine aktuelle Aufführung etwas mehr als 100 Plätze zur Verfügung. Es ist die zweite Produktion am Broadway seit der Covid-19-Pandemie.

„Die Denkweise ‚Lass uns einfach warten, bis alles vorbei ist‘, haben wir jetzt gelernt, dass das falsch ist“, sagte Ross. “So lebt man nicht mit einem Virus, mit einer Pandemie, mit einer Infektionskrankheit.”

Pass Over in der Tat, das Eröffnungsdatum verschoben, mit Ross kürzlich Playbill sagte: “Wir haben unseren Zeitplan mit mehr Zeit erstellt, als wir brauchen würden, da wir wussten, dass es eine reale Möglichkeit gibt, dass wir Proben oder Vorschauen verschieben müssen.”

Während der regionale Theatermanager Rosenberg eine Wiedereröffnung im September befürwortet, hat er Bedenken hinsichtlich der volatilen Start-Wieder-Stopp-Situation in London.

“[This model] kann auf Dauer nicht nachhaltig sein. Es ist ein enormer Aufwand, diese Shows wieder zu starten”, sagte Rosenberg. “Die Sache mit dem Starten und erneuten Stoppen wird wirklich problematisch, wenn das auch hier passiert.”

Ross engagierte sogar einen Epidemiologen für die Produktion, um ein solches Ereignis zu verhindern. Der Epidemiologe half dem Team, einen Plan zu entwickeln, um das Publikum und die Besetzung sicher zu halten, um das Risiko zu minimieren, dass Aufführungen abgesagt oder pausiert werden müssen. Die Produktion hat ein intensives Testprotokoll, mehr als viermal pro Woche, ein vollständig geimpftes Unternehmen, Kontaktverfolgung, Backup-Testoptionen und der Epidemiologe “führt sie durch diese Situationen”, sagte Ross. “Wir versuchen auf jeden Fall, diesen Stopp wieder zu vermeiden, Modell von vorne beginnen.”

Der größte Star am Broadway sind Touristen

Ein großer Faktor für die Fähigkeit des Broadways, finanziell erfolgreich zu sein, bleibt jedoch eine wichtige Wildcard: Touristen. Mit Touristen Das Showgeschäft, das 70 % des Broadway-Ticketverkaufs ausmacht, ist in Schwierigkeiten. Laut Büro des New York State Comptroller, sank der Tourismus in New York City von 66,6 Millionen Besuchern im Jahr 2019 auf 22,3 Millionen Besucher im Jahr 2020: ein Rückgang um 67 %. Das Büro rechnet für 2021 mit 36,1 Millionen Besuchern. Um dem erheblichen Rückgang der Touristen entgegenzuwirken, kündigte Bürgermeister Bill de Blasio eine Werbekampagne in Höhe von 30 Millionen US-Dollar an, die aus Bundeshilfsmitteln finanziert wird.

Rosenberg äußerte sich besorgt über die Rückkehr des bevölkerungsreichsten Publikums am Broadway.

“Es gibt einen großen Teil des Broadway-Publikums, das ein Tourismuspublikum ist”, sagte er. “Ich denke, dieses Touristenpublikum wird etwas länger brauchen, um zurückzukommen.”

Auch aus diesem Grund glaubt Kenrick, dass der Broadway warten sollte, bis die gesamte Tourismusindustrie und Downtown Manhattan wiederbelebt sind.

“Die Theaterbranche unterstützt über 96.000 Arbeitsplätze in Manhattan. Die Leute, die an bestimmten Shows arbeiten, machen nur einen Bruchteil dieser Summe aus”, sagte Kenrick. “Die Mehrheit sind Hotelangestellte, Restaurantarbeiter, Ladenleute, all die Leute, deren Job sich um die Präsenz des Theaters in New York dreht.”

Er glaubt, dass kleine, kostengünstige und unabhängig produzierte Produktionen die ersten sein werden, die ein gesundes Comeback erleben werden. Unternehmen, wie z Disney, die groß angelegte, millionenschwere Musicals produzieren, könnten in andere Richtungen blicken.

Was früher riskant war, ist jetzt riskanter, selbst für Disney.

John Kennick, Theaterproduzent und Historiker

Zum Beispiel Disneys neueste Produktion, die 30 Millionen US-Dollar.Gefroren,” brachte 155 Millionen US-Dollar ein (im Vergleich zu über 1,6 Milliarden US-Dollar Bruttoumsatz für “Der König der Löwen” und über 460 Millionen US-Dollar Bruttoumsatz für “Aladdin“). Während “Frozen” nur 851 Vorstellungen hatte, laufen Disneys Mega-Musical-Hits seit 22 bzw. 6 Jahren. Während “Frozen” auf dem Animationsfilm mit den zweithöchsten Einnahmen aller Zeiten, noch bevor Covid traf, entsprach es nicht den Erwartungen.

“Was früher riskant war, ist jetzt riskanter, selbst für Disney”, sagte Kenrick, zumal ihre Zielgruppe junge Kinder sind, von denen viele derzeit nicht in der Lage sind, den Impfstoff zu bekommen.

Disney Theatricals lehnte eine Stellungnahme ab.

Die Entscheidung der Broadway League, Impfungen vorzuschreiben, sei der richtige Schritt gewesen, sagte Rosenberg, aber er vermutet, dass dies Auswirkungen auf Produktionen haben könnte, die ein jüngeres Publikum ansprechen.

“Ich denke, es könnte für einige Shows schwierig sein, die ein jüngeres Publikum haben, das jünger als 12 Jahre ist, da es derzeit nicht geimpft werden kann”, sagte er.

Kenrick sagt, Disney müsse sich Gedanken machen, um die Vitalität seiner aktuellen Broadway-Eigenschaften zu erhalten. Sollte Disney eine neue Produktion eröffnen, wäre das Unternehmen seiner Meinung nach mit einer Wiederbelebung besser dran – Produktionen mit nachgewiesener Erfolgsbilanz und hoher Rentabilität.

„Das Zurückbringen von „Mary Poppins“ oder „Die Schöne und das Biest“ wird sich als [Disney] ob der Broadway immer noch eine neue Investition in neue Produktionen wert ist oder nicht”, sagte Kenrick.

Live-Theater auf Film und Streaming übertragen

Während der Pandemie debütierte Disney die gefilmte Version von “Hamilton”, die auf Disney+ gestreamt wurde, obwohl die Theaterindustrie sich weitgehend davor gescheut hat, Produktionen aus Profitgründen zu filmen und zu verteilen (einige Produktionen wurden für Bildungszwecke gedreht, aber unzählige Produktionen wurden nicht aufgezeichnet). .

Das Online-Publikum sei “ein riesiges Publikum, das das Theater viel zu lange ignoriert hat”, sagte Kenrick. “Es wäre völlig töricht, wenn die Leute das nicht ausnutzen würden.” Er fügte hinzu: “Sie können die Leute weiterhin illegal damit machen lassen und illegal davon profitieren. Oder Sie können es zu einem Teil des Pakets machen.”

Laut Ross ist Streaming ein Teil der Zukunft der Theaterbranche. “Da ist Geld zu verdienen”, sagte er, und das Angebot von aufgezeichneten Produktionen wird die Branche stärken. „Wir möchten diese Geschichte mit so vielen Menschen wie möglich teilen. Wir müssen anerkennen, dass es selbst wenn wir auf Tour gehen, immer noch Menschen durch geografische oder finanzielle Barrieren, die diese Shows nicht sehen können.“

Bei seiner letzten Telefonkonferenz am Donnerstagnachmittag, nach einem Quartal, in dem sich Disneys Themenparks erholten und im Vergleich zu den Erwartungen der Wall Street zu einer finanziellen Outperformance führten, wurde über die Zukunft der Kinostarts von Filmen diskutiert, aber nicht über das Geschäft mit Live-Kinos.

Gefilmte Produktionen sind ein relativ unerschlossener Markt, und daher ist es schwer abzuschätzen, ob sie Teil einer neuen Normalität in der Theaterbranche werden. Aber die aktuelle Situation für das Live-Theater ist ein entscheidender Moment, und die Produzenten sind möglicherweise zu begierig darauf, wieder zu öffnen und zu den Dingen zurückzukehren, die vor Covid waren.

“Wenn ‘König der Löwen’ gerade solche Probleme beim Ticketverkauf hat, wer dann nicht?” sagte Kenrick. “Also muss sich jeder fragen, gehen wir zu schnell zu schnell?”

NY’s Broadway, Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Corridor to require vaccines

If you want to attend a live performance in New York, prepare to show proof that you received your Covid shots.

The Broadway League announced Friday that the owners and operators of all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City will require viewers, performers, backstage crew and theater staff to be fully vaccinated by October.

Young children or people with medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent vaccinations can still attend shows if they have a negative Covid-19 test. You will need a PCR test within 72 hours of the start of the performance or a negative antigen test that will be performed within 6 hours of the start of the performance in order to be admitted.

“A uniform policy in all New York Broadway theaters makes it easy for our audiences and should give our guests even more confidence how seriously Broadway takes the safety of the audience,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League.

An exterior view of the Palace Theater at the premiere of “West Side Story” on Broadway at the Palace Theater on March 19, 2009 in New York City.

Neilson Barnard | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Audiences in the theater must also wear masks, except when eating or drinking in designated areas.

In September, the league will review these guidelines for November performances.

The Metropolitan Opera also requires guests, performers, orchestras, choirs, and staff to provide proof of vaccination, but face masks are optional. The opera will prohibit children under 12 from attending performances.

“The Met policy states that masks will be optional, this could change depending on prevailing health conditions. Also, unlike Broadway, we will have absolutely no exceptions to the vaccination-only policy, ”a Metropolitan Opera spokeswoman said in an email.

Guests must present proof of vaccination upon entering the theater and be fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO approved vaccine. This means that guests have to wait at least two weeks after their last recordings to attend a performance.

Carnegie Hall will also require proof of vaccination from all guests, artists, staff and visitors and will ban children under the age of 12 from attending performances, a statement said.

Younger children are not yet entitled to the Covid vaccine.

The new requirements result from the rapid spread of the Delta variant across the country, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. On Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new instructions Encouraging people to wear masks in again Areas of the country where cases have increasedeven if they are vaccinated. This was a reversal of the Agency’s previous policy.

The CDC warns that the Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and could make people sicker than the original Covid.

Broadway begins will reopen its doors to the public at full capacity on September 14th, after switching off since March 2020. New York City has Billions lost in tourism dollars when live performances on Broadway, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall were interrupted.

The industry received government support through a program called Grant for operators of shuttered venues, which provided $ 16.2 billion to keep the entertainment industry alive across the country until performances could be safely returned to normal.

The surge in Covid cases due to the Delta variant comes at a precarious time for the industry, which has invested in reinstating artists and other workers in preparation for the resumption of performances.

Former Broadway Performer Transitions To Sports activities Leisure As Las Vegas Market Grows Its Sports activities Choices

By Alan Snel of LVSportsBiz.com

He’s partly a fan, partly a Broadway entertainer, and partly a former hockey player.

This unique blend leads to his brisk jokes, facial expressions and energetic urges, all of which are precisely calibrated at the Vegas Golden Knights home games when he’s on the big video screen in the T-Mobile arena.

As the venue for Golden Knights games since the NHL franchise launched in 2017, Mark Shunock has brought together a seasoned hockey brain and a real love affair for the sport with real Broadway theater chops and a serious personality that draws on his unpretentious Canadian roots 72,000. -resident city called Sault St. Marie in the United States from the city of the same name in Michigan.

What sets Shunock apart from the average pro-sports arena hype man is his eclectic stage, acting, and entertainment skills, which have enabled him to be just as comfortable hosting musical fundraising talent shows for the past eight years as he does as an official boxing match announcer for Las Vegas-based promoter Top Rank.

Shunock’s charity work, Mondays Dark, is based in a 10,000-square-foot event building called The Space, where its 90-minute variety shows, which cost people $ 20 a capita every other week, have raised more than $ 1 million. Shunock said $ 330,000 had been raised during the COVID-19 pandemic alone. Located west of the Strip across the interstate from the Aria, the space hosts everything from birthday parties to corporate events.

The merging of his stage and sports world could not have come at a better time for Shunock professionally.

Mark Shunock in Rock of Ages.

The entertainment themes of sports, music and drama are woven into all sporting events, from the NFL Super Bowls to the NHL events where musical performances play part of the winter hockey games outdoors. Shunock also works for the NHL on special events for that league.

It’s his not-so-secret sauce – a stage presence that combines the demeanor of a former Broadway King of the Lions and the Rock of Ages with a love of hockey he got from when he was a substitute goalkeeper for Ontario , The Belleville Bulls of the Hockey League cultivated while living the “Slapshot” life outside of Toronto.

Mark Shunock, the goalkeeper

In 1988, his father also bought the Greyhounds ice hockey team in his hometown of Sault St. Marie from legendary NHL brothers Phil and Tony Esposito. Some of the NHL’s biggest names like Wayne Gretzky have traversed Sault St. Marie on their way to fame. Other NHLers who played in The Soo included Esposito brothers Ron Francis, original Golden Knights player Colin Miller, and Jerry Korab. So the hockey DNA is deep in Shunock.

And Shunock dives deeper into the world of sports as the live event voice of top-rank boxing. He realized he was a boxing fan who now does his homework with the Top Rank fighters.

“I really enjoyed getting to know the fighters. You see the same fighters every four or six months. You find out who these guys and women are and you get to know their stories, ”he said. “They are really fighting for their lives and you are starting to take care of them. I know it sounds cheesy. But you have to learn where these guys are from and their family situation. They want them to be successful. “

For Shunock, it was a memorable transition from stage to sport.

“I love ice hockey. It is not strange to me. I take it for granted in hockey. I am very passionate about it. I come from a fan’s point of view first. That is what makes my job so exciting. Fans just see me as another fan, ”Shunock said. “I had to learn boxing. It’s a cool situation. I bring something unique to the sport. I didn’t go to school to play sports. “

In fact, in 1996, a full quarter of a century ago, Shunock left Sault St. Marie to attend drama school in New York City.

While Sault St. Marie was known for hockey, the city had a different face that helped Shunock – a burgeoning arts and community theater scene he joined that eventually led him to theater at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York to study.

“Sault St. Marie had a very special art scene. There were community theaters, great galleries, great restaurants. When the hockey days were over and I finished high school, I got into community theater productions and got the virus. “

At the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, he was one of 130 students in a program that had shrunk to 75 by the sophomore before Shunock was just 11 by the third year.

Shunock in Rock of Ages

After graduating from academy, he appeared in plays such as The Lion King before Rock of Ages brought Shunock to Las Vegas in October 2012 after a decade in New York.

He never left.

There are rumors that Rock of Ages may be back.

You may know Shunock as the guy who pumps up 18,000 fans at VGK playoff games. But think of the guy yelling insanely, “Woo!” When the siren goes on to start a VGK hockey period, it’s the same guy who sang old classics by pop singers like Johnny Mathis and Neil Diamond. The guy who goes crazy to fire up the VGK people can also carry a tune from the Rat Pack guys to Michael Buble.

But Shunock doesn’t sing Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” at the Golden Knights games.

“There are moments in Golden Knights games when there is a barbecue and my boss says, ‘Your microphone is open. Get them going. ‘ ”

Shunock said he was working on an album and that he would release more details over the next few months.

“I am grateful to be busy. I was lucky that Top Rank had a bubble (last year). Even the NBA called to inquire about the top-rank bubble. – Mark Shunock

And when he’s on the job, be it announcing a top-ranked boxing event or a VGK game, he relies on his previous stage life to stay cool in front of large crowds.

“My background as an entertainer helped me in the nerves department. Standing in front of people is not a problem, ”said Shunock. “As a fan, I get nervous when I watch the boys fight and play hockey. When you work for a professional franchise or professional sports, you get passionate about that team and become a fan. But it’s not a job. We do it because we love it. “

If you enjoyed this story please support LVSportsBiz.com by purchasing Alan Snel’s book Bicycle Man: Life of Journeys. But email the book direct from Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com

Rejected Broadway posters on sale to assist theater group | Leisure

Posters play a key role in the life of a show. Until word of mouth gets the upper hand, advertising campaigns need to trick customers into being willing to pay high ticket prices for something they may know little about.

“It’s definitely the first thing anyone sees on a show. And what I like the most is that it lingers when the show stops, ”says Verlizzo.

The latest set – in addition to a collection of his work, “Fraver By Design: 5 decades of theater poster art from Broadway, Off-Broadway and beyond” – shows Verlizzo’s range, which includes everything from woodcuts to elaborate typography to stylized illustrations.

“That was a criticism I always came across in school – ‘You have no style. You don’t have a style of your own, ”he says. “It’s like, ‘Well, I like all kinds of things. I like woodblock prints. I like illustration. I like graphic design.’ I don’t understand why I have to commit to a certain look or style. “

To make his posters, Verlizzo begins with a script and dreams up an image that can be reduced to the size of a stamp newspaper ad or blown onto an advertising billboard.

“I read it quickly first and try to get visual impressions of what I’m really reading it for,” he says. “Sometimes there is a subject that is evolving that I think I can express graphically.”

Bread and Cameos — a yr with out revenue from Broadway stage | Leisure

NEW YORK (AP) – A year ago, Max Kumangai wowed the crowd with a jolt of live Broadway excitement. Now he does it with his bread.

The triple threat posed by the musical “Jagged Little Pill” has evolved into a fourth skill as the pandemic progresses: baking and selling your own sourdough.

From his Manhattan apartment, Kumangai delivers $ 15 loaves of bread or $ 8 slices of focaccia from his Humpday Dough Company on foot or by subway.

“I wanted to make connecting with people – at a time when it was difficult to connect – part of the business,” he says. “It feeds me figuratively and literally.”

With televisions and film sets slowly upgrading themselves a year after the COVID-19 hit, Broadway theaters are still closed and there is no end in sight. This means that people who make a living in live entertainment had to be creative.

Unemployed seamstresses sell handmade jewelry and plush toys on Etsy, dancers teach online, and actors do voice-over work, podcasts, or sell video shout-outs on cameo.

A stage manager started the Stagedoor Candle Company, a line of fragrance products inspired by Broadway musicals. There is an eBay marketplace that sells Broadway memorabilia for artists to pocket.

“This is a paycheck to paycheck profession. We are workers,” says Laura Benanti, a Tony winner. “It is really very upsetting to me that so many people are suffering who are unable to feed themselves. They have no savings.”

Employment of New York City workers in the arts, entertainment and recreation declined 66% during the pandemic, according to a new report from the New York State Comptroller.

The decline – from 87,000 jobs in February 2020 to 34,100 jobs just three months later – marks the largest drop in employment of any economic sector in the city. It has left Broadway workers behind, many of whom have lost health insurance and are living on side performances, stimulus checks, and unemployment benefits.

As of March 2020, the national human services group The Actors Fund has distributed more than $ 18 million in emergency relief to more than 15,000 people in the entertainment industry.

“I’ve had a lot of friends who just picked up, moved and moved to different states because we live in one of the most expensive states in the country,” says Jawan M. Jackson, a star of Ain’t Too Proud – Life and the times of temptation. “It was about releasing a single, making a movie, and doing commercials.

He wished the heads of government would do more. “We kind of feel like we’re just afterthought,” he said. “I just wish they had been a little better for us during the shutdown because of the difficult situation we are in. But hopefully that will change. We’ll see.”

Others are blunt: “These artists need to be protected. They need to be supported. This is an emergency right now,” said Tom Kitt, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. “This is the elixir of life in this city.”

Theater work, even without a pandemic, is usually a piecemeal existence. Shows seldom run for years and workers live nomadic lives jumping to new works every few years. Nowadays they are even more bit by bit as people who do live theater are clearly the last ones to get back to work.

“You pick up things where you can. I know a lot of people who did side appearances when they can. A lot of people went back to school,” said Derek Klena, a Tony nominee. “You’re doing what you can to get through.”

According to the auditor, the average actor salary in the city in 2019 was $ 65,756, with musicians and singers grossing $ 43,966. Despite the pandemic, New York City remains the second largest rental market in the United States. The median rent for a bedroom in March is $ 2,460.

Musician Andrew Griffin had landed a great gig as the violist for “Ain’t Too Proud” when the pandemic ended its regular gig. He has cobbled together some live concerts, composed for a dance group and carried out some consulting work.

He’s seen people sell their instruments and their cars. A woman near him even sold her eggs. “It was definitely very challenging and very stressful in many ways,” he says.

And yet he refuses to let himself be deterred from making art. He recently teamed up with violinist Danielle Giulini on a video that puts the final year into perspective as they play Handel-Halvorsen’s “Passacaglia”. He notes that what kept America together and safe during this lockdown year is art – Netflix, Spotify, and all of the streaming options. “That’s the glue,” he says. “So where is the help?”

Some of the leading men on Broadway – including Jeremy Jordan, Max von Essen, Corey Cott, and Adam Pascal – have turned to Cameo, which pays celebrities to create personalized videos for fans.

“I set out to pay those bills every month,” says Pascal, a Tony nominee for Rent who has made his own rent this year to teach master classes and concerts. “Pan in whatever way I can pan.”

Some of the leading ladies on Broadway – from Patti Murin, Cassie Levy, Kerry Butler, Lilli Cooper to Ashley Park – have practiced, sung, and answered questions virtually on Broadway Booker. A 30-minute veteran private coaching session can start at $ 75.

Tony Award winning Jefferson Mays has starred alongside Denzel Washington in Hollywood for Joel Coen’s “Macbeth,” but he has also recorded audiobooks in a “niche in our house” filled with pillows and sofa cushions.

Broadway dancer Jen Frankel lost her job but quickly became an employer: she co-founded the virtual dance platform PassDoor and suddenly hired unemployed Broadway veterans to teach all skill levels and ages.

“We thought, ‘Here’s an opportunity for not only us to help the Broadway community, but also to help everyone by giving them the opportunity to dance with people they would never have.”

The teachers – with extensive experience from musicals such as “Frozen”, “Tootsie”, “Kiss Me Kate” and “Anastasia” – receive a base price per class and a percentage of the gross if they reach a certain number of participants.

“We wanted to create a model in which we offer something that is accessible to different income groups and also to dancers who may not work for a long period of time,” said Frankel.

Bebe Neuwirth, a two-time Tony winner who also starred in “Cheers,” works with dancers on career transitions and is concerned about the pandemic’s loss of her art form.

“I know a lot of dancers say, ‘OK, I have to get a scholarship and go back to school and do something because I can’t make it work,'” she says. “Who knows what these dancers would have done if they had stayed?”

Neuwirth points to the devastation of dance and theater by another pandemic – AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s. “Has the theater suffered as a result? Has dance suffered as a result? Yes, it did,” she says. “We’ll never be able to quantify it, but we know so many really interesting artists have disappeared.”

Kumangai, the bread maker on Broadway, doesn’t want to give up its sideline when Broadway reboots. Baking is a passion and he hopes to keep it going with a schedule of eight shows a week. He credits making bread to give him back a sense of joy.

He is also impressed by the warm – virtual, of course – hug from colleagues on Broadway who buy up everything that his apartment stove produces.

“This community is still alive and bubbly, just like my sourdough starter,” he says with a laugh. “We are all there for one another.”