The Broadway League will no longer require Broadway theatergoers to wear masks starting this Friday – not the most shocking decision announced last week, but like the Supreme Court rulings on guns and abortion, one that ignores the interests and desires of much of the public.
Theater owners “decided it was time to try,” Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, told the New York Times. “This is not an easy decision — there are more people that want masks off than on, but plenty still want them on — and we’re encouraging people that have any concerns to wear their masks.” It’s not clear what evidence she has for her claim of majority support, unless by “people” she means only theater owners and producers. The League, which is the trade organization for theater owners and producers, made this decision without consulting any of the theatrical unions, according to a letter sent by Actors Equity Association to its membership, obtained by Deadline.
“It is hard to see who benefits from removal,” Ginia Bellafante observes in her latest Big City column, which quotes well-known mask advocate Patti LuPone as wondering: “Are they afraid that they’re losing audiences?” — which has an unintended double meaning. The theater owners don’t seem concerned about losing audience members to COVID.
It hardly needs stating that COVID-19 is still with us. Last week, six out of the 11 cast members of the The Minutes” were out sick. No sooner had Hugh Jackman returned to “The Music Man” on June 22 after his second bout with COVID than his co-star Sutton Foster announced that she tested positive for the coronavirus again and would be out of the show again for a time.
An average of 5,165 cases per day were reported in New York in the last week, 2,992 of them in New York City — statistics that don’t include those who tested positive in a home test, such as a certain theater blogger who has been bedridden since a day after the Broadway League’s announcement.
So far, only one of the 27 shows currently running on Broadway has decided to keep their mask mandate: “American Buffalo” at Circle in the Square, where the in-the-round configuration means that the audience members are within just a few feet of the performers. “I don’t know if it occurs to the audience that they’re protecting the actors onstage,” Sam Rockwell told Bellafante.
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
In a note in the program of “Corsicana,” which is running at Playwrights Horizons through July 10, the playwright tells us he was inspired to write “Corsicana,” because he has always wanted to write about his relationship with his older sister, Julia Arbery, who has Down syndrome – like the character Ginny, and like the actress who portrays Ginny, Jamie Brewer. At the same time, the playwright didn’t want to turn his sister into an archetype, to be pitied or admired, and he didn’t want to make “Corsicana” into an issue play. The solution he seems to have landed on is to add two more characters, and give all four of them more or less equal weight. The result is the slow unfolding of some vivid, odd, complicated characters brought to life by an extraordinary cast, including Dierdre O’Connell, who finally got the recognition she deserved last week when she won the Tony Award for lead actress in a play. But Arbery’s approach creates some other challenges. Read full review
The Week in Theater Awards
The 13th annual Jimmy Awards ceremony, aka the National High School Musical Theater Awards, will take place tonight (June 27) at 7:30pm at the Minskoff Theater…and online.
The Week in Theater News
Theater reacts to abortion ruling:
On Friday, after the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned Roe vs. Wade, the cast and the audience at L.A.’s Fountain Theatre discussed the ruling across the footlights, right in the middle of a live show…a staged reading of Lisa Loomer’s 2016 play “Roe.” (LA Times)
The line from “POTUS” that stopped the show, in context: Julianne Hough portrays Dusty, who has just revealed that she is pregnant with the president’s child. Harriet, his chief of staff (Julie White) is planning to talk to her, which surprises Jean, his press secretary (Suzy Nakamura):
Here? You’re doing this IN the White House?
Where else am I gonna do it? A back alley? You don’t think that’d make her a bit suspicious?
Have you TALKED to the girl? You could tell her to meet you at the ABORTION CLINIC and she wouldn’t be suspicious!
I volunteer at a clinic back in Iowa. Affordable, safe reproductive health care is a basic human right.
This is when the audience on Friday night went wild. The joke here — the joke about Dusty’s character in general — is that everybody else assumes she’s a dopey bimbo, but she is in fact extremely competent, intelligent and aware.
“It felt like we had done group therapy with the entire audience,” Hough Tweeted afterwards.
The gender-reversed production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company” will play its final performance on July 31,after 268 regular performances and 32 preview performances, and many awards, including the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. A North American tour is planned for the 2023-2024 season.
Ralph Fiennes will star as New York’s longtime building czar Robert Moses in David Hare’s new play, Straight Line Crazy, directed by Nicholas Hytner and Jamie Armitage, this fall at The Shed. For 40 years, Robert Moses was considered the most powerful man in New York as he envisioned and built some of the most famous public works in the world. (He might be best-known now as the subject of one of the best books ever written about New York City, “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro.)
Rest in Peace.
James Rado, 90, co-creator of the musical ‘Hair,’ who based the character Claude Hooper Bukowski on himself, and portrayed him on Broadway.