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Waiting in the wings: live theater plots its comeback

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 6, 2020 - Duration: 01:56s

Waiting in the wings: live theater plots its comeback

Expensive, risky and involving scores of people, live theater may be the last form of entertainment to come back - and will likely look very different when the curtain goes up.

Lisa Bernhard has more.

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Waiting in the wings: live theater plots its comeback

Expensive, risky and involving scores of people from ticket takers to stagehands, live theater may be the last form of entertainment to come back – especially with exuberant performers literally within spitting distance of each other, and the audience.

“Do we skip every other seat?

Do we sell half of the house?

Do we do every other row?” That’s Broadway producer Brian Moreland, who says the first step in reopening will be to downsize.

“Moving forward, for a small amount of time, it will be smaller casts, because those are going to be smaller budgeted shows.

The returns can be lower, the ticket prices can probably be lower.” Broadway’s doing what Broadway does – getting creative - says fellow theater producer and investor Brisa Trinchero.

“There have been some theater companies that are specifically looking at shows that naturally lend themselves to social distancing.

And I know there are a lot of playwrights that are very active right now writing new pieces that would be able to enter the scene early that allow for some social distancing.” Theater union Actors’ Equity has even hired even an epidemiologist to come up with safety protocols for actors, stagehands, and costume and make-up departments.

Broadway theaters went dark in mid-March and London's West End followed a few days later.

They’re scheduled to reopen June 7 and June 28, respectively – but most expect they’ll stay shut well beyond those dates.

Last to get back on the boards will likely be large productions like those by Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Really Useful Group.

The theater company has had to shutter 28 musicals worldwide.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll in April found that only 27% of those polled said they would see a performance when venues reopen, while 51% said live theater should not resume at all before a vaccine is available.

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