Broadway Goes Dark Tonight as NY Gov. Bans Gatherings of 500 People

Restrictions on Broadway productions go into effect 5 p.m. Thursday

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All Broadway productions have been postponed beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that all gatherings of 500 people or more are restricted in New York City.

Restrictions on Broadway productions go into effect Thursday evening, while the ban in the city begins Friday. And the blackout is expected to continue until at least April 12 — disrupting the end of the Broadway season and possibly this year’s Tony Awards. There are 31 shows currently playing on Broadway, and another eight scheduled to begin preview performances in the next month.

Cuomo added that the theater owners already agreed to the decision with the governor.

Before Cuomo made his announcement, the production of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” tweeted that it canceled its performance that night but that shows were scheduled to resume on Friday. The tweet was later deleted after the restrictions were announced, and the reason for the production’s initial decision was unclear.

On Wednesday it was reported that an usher who had worked at two separate Broadway shows, including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and two productions of the show “Six,” tested positive for coronavirus. The individual was quarantined and performances continued at the time.

“Last evening, we were notified that a part-time employee of both organizations has tested positively for COVID-19 (Cornonavirus),” the theater owners said in a joint statement obtained by TheWrap Wednesday. “Immediately upon learning of the positive test, both organizations began taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of our audiences, performers, crew, and building staff.”

The box office has held relatively steady this week, but several individual shows have noticed decreased attendance. Last week, overall grosses at the box hit $26.7 million, 2% above the previous week, according to the Broadway League. The numbers were boosted by the arrival of four new shows that started previews last week: a gender-swapped revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” the new musical “Diana,” the historical play “The Lehman Trilogy” and a starry revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

But Disney’s three family-friendly musicals saw significant drops in ticket sales last week. “The Lion King” grosses fell 16.1%, to $1.2 million; “Frozen” plummeted 13.7%, to $798,610; and “Aladdin” dropped 8.2%, to just over $1 million.

On Tuesday, the coronavirus threat prompted Broadway producer Scott Rudin to offer bargain-basement $50 tickets on all remaining tickets to performances of his five shows on the Main Stem: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “West Side Story,” “The Lehman Trilogy,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Book of Mormon.”

Over 200 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state of New York, according to a count in The New York Times. New York is the second-hardest hit state with coronavirus following Washington state.