Free Shakespeare in the Park has been canceled, for the first time in its 58 years – news that hits hard, and the sharpest sign that New York theater is unlikely to reopen until the Fall at the earliest.
This includes Broadway, which even the head of the Broadway League now concedes. In an interview this past week, the trade association’s Charlotte St. Martin said: “As late as two weeks ago we were thinking that with any luck we might be up by July and that a worst case scenario might be September. Now the best guesses are that unless there’s serious testing and information that we don’t currently have, we’re probably looking at September or later.”
Once theater officially returns, the question becomes: Will audiences?
A survey of DC-area theatergoers found that “around half (49 percent) suggest they will probably wait a few months or more before returning while only a quarter (25 percent) think they will attend right away.”
“Constraint Breeds Creativity”
In the meantime, theaters are responding in creative ways. A survey of 168 theaters across the country conducted by TCG, found that 67 percent are “exploring performance alternatives and virtual programming,” which helps explain the explosion of online theater. (See my Where To Get Your Theater Fix Online and Calendar of April “Openings”)
Other findings from the survey:
Cancellations: 88 percent had cancelled performances that had already been scheduled (It’s surprising that 12 percent had not; perhaps they didn’t have any scheduled in the Spring?)
Compensation: “56 percent had committed to some kind of compensation for artists, production staff, etc. involved with cancelled performances; 18 percent had committed to full compensation, and 38 percent had committed to partial compensation. Thirty percent of respondents expressed a desire to provide compensation but were not sure they would be able to do so in light of revenue losses, and 13 percent expressed a desire to provide compensation but knew they would not be able to do so.”
One of those answering the survey was quoted as saying: “There’s a strong feeling that we’re all in this together. And I do believe that some creative solutions for how we make and share art will emerge out of this. Constraint breeds creativity.”
Another way to look at it: “We’re all in intermission right now….everybody loves a second act,” Lin-Manuel Miranda says in a radio spot sponsored by the Broadway League. “If there’s one thing we can be sure of, Broadway will be back, and New York City will be back and the world will be back.”
In the meantime, to donate money, supplies or time — Coronavirus.health.ny.gov
Awards Season Begins
New York Drama Critics Circle Awards:Heroes of the Fourth Turning. Strange Loop. The entire theater community for perseveranceThe
Lucille Lortel Award Nominations 2020, Off-Broadway’s Best: “A Strange Loop” NS “Heroes of the Fourth Turning” lead nominations
The nominations for the 65th annual Drama Desk Award will be announced on Tuesday at the 2 p.m. #StarsintheHouse with Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley; and for the Drama Leagues’ newly named Gratitude Awards on Thursday.
Despite a truncated season, more than half the major theater awards are going ahead in one form or another. Check out my guide to New York Theater Awards 2020
Fighting the Virus
Broadway star Danny Burstein on his harrowing experience with COVID-19, which he recounts straightforwardly, and with lots of humor. (He’s now out of the hospital, recuperating) https://t.co/UR3YSPTGNE pic.twitter.com/BPh4IM76xv
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) April 13, 2020
Nick Cordero’s fight against COVID-19 has been more up and down, as his wife has recounted on her Instagram account over the last several weeks. More than 6,000 people have donated a total of more than $350,000 to the Cordero’ family‘s GoFundMe account.
Nick was without question the best thing about “Bullets Over Broadway.” Here is in 2014 re-creating “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” for Broadway in Bryant Park:
A Dissident Company Celebrates 15 Years Underground
The Belarus Free Theater had ambitious plans for its anniversary. The coronavirus stopped them, but the troupe is used to finding ways to keep going in tough times.
A Chorus Line in Quarantine
Happy 150th birthday, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Thanks for the 5,000 years of artwork about actors and the theater., by Picasso, Renoir, Degas, and by artists whose names are lost to history
Rest in Peace
Brian Dennehy, 81, a versatile performer on stage and stage, winning Tony Awards for “Death of a Salesman” in 1999 and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in 2003.
I saw four of the six productions in which Brian Dennehy performed on Broadway, the last “Love Letters” in 2014 with Mia Farrow. He was always so… solid is the word, I think.
Wynn Handman, 97, co-founder of the American Place Theatre, and revered acting teacher.
“The list of theater artists who worked at the American Place or were students in Handman’s classes (or, more often, both) is a Who’s Who of the American theater. Actors in the company roster included Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Rául Juliá, Michael Douglas, Olympia Dukakis, Faye Dunaway, Mary Alice, Richard Gere, Marian Seldes, Robert de Niro, James Caan, Joanne Woodward and Joel Grey. Bill Irwin, Eric Bogosian, Cynthia Heimel, Roger Rosenblatt, Aasif Mandvi and John Leguizamo all developed and performed in early shows there…
“A celebration of Handman’s life will take place when groups of people are again allowed to gather in theaters and other American places.”
Faith Dane, 96, who “starred for many years in a stage show that spanned burlesque, jazz, dance, calypso, comedy and performance art. She hit it big in the Broadway and film productions of “Gypsy,” for which the lyricist Stephen Sondheim created a role based on her long-standing cabaret act.
She went on to run for mayor of D.C. nine times
Louis Johnson, 90, genre-crossing dancer and choreographer, whose career spanned Broadway (“Damn Yankees”), film (“The Wiz”), opera (“Aida”) and the stages of the Alvin Ailey and Dance Theater of Harlem companies.