Broadway theaters, including The Music Box Theatre, home of “Dear Evan Hansen,” will start opening as early as April 2, 2021. But don’t get too excited. “Dear Evan Hansen” is still on hiatus, but programming at its theater and other Broadway houses is set to start as part of NY PopsUp, an event festival. Each pop-up event is allowed to hold up to 150 attendees as long as they demonstrate negative COVID-19 tests prior to attending the event. Otherwise, audiences for such indoor events are limited to 100 people, and generally, must not comprise more than 33% of capped maximum occupancy. Social distancing and face coverings will be required by all attendees as well as other safety measures under New York State’s Department of Health guidance. In theory, under the current NY reopening plan, Broadway could reopen its shows starting April 2nd, including “Dear Evan Hansen” and numerous others that have been on hiatus for over a year now, to the same limited audiences. But mounting such full-fledged production, given the operating costs, is not feasible to an audience at only 33% capacity. Rather, the theaters would need to operate at a much higher capacity for such a plan to be warranted.
Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) supports the reopening efforts for theaters made by New York to date, but cautions that increased protections for its actors and stage managers is required. AEA has also fought for prioritizing art workers in the vaccination process so that they can work indoors more safely, including presumably without masks as necessary to properly effect their jobs, but so far, despite such pleas, professional performing artists have not been prioritized for vaccination.
In addition to performances inside Broadway theaters, New York’s recent reopening initiatives for arts and entertainment allows outdoor performances which are capped at 200 attendees, and if all test negative for COVID-19 prior to entry, that number is increased to 500 people. Some arts companies, like Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, have already announced plans for extensive outdoor performances this year, with the new rules providing clarification on the numbers of attendees.