NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than 12 months after Broadway went dark, there’s finally a plan to turn the lights back on.
The city will set up dedicated vaccination sites in the heart of the Theater District for on and off-Broadway stage crews, production teams and performers.
“The show must go on, and the show will go in,” de Blasio said. “It’s time to raise the curtain and bring Broadway back. So, the next four weeks, we will be setting up dedicated vaccination sites specifically for the theater community.”
It’s the moment Broadway stars like Grammy, Tony and Emmy-award winner Andre De Shields have been waiting for.
“We are ready, we are staying in shape. Our voices are strong, we need this,” De Shields said.
The stage is now set for theaters to reopen by September.
“The lead time to bring back a show is really extensive. That’s one of the things we’ve heard most from the Broadway leadership… they need answers now to be able to get the shows back as early as September,” de Blasio said.
Telly Leung, the Brooklyn-born star of “Aladdin,” has been waiting patiently in the wings.
“This pandemic has hit our industry particularly hard,” Leung said. “Time for us to heal from the trauma… That is where artists come in, we had to heal the soul.”
Broadway accounts for 100,000 jobs and has an economic impact of $15 billion a year.
“The thing that always shocks people is that Broadway and the theater contribute more the New York’s economy than all of the sports teams combined,” said Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association.
Unlike sports arenas, theaters are extremely intimate. Producers say it’s not financially feasible to open unless seats are filled to at least 75% capacity.
That’s why city officials will also be working closely to ensure theaters can safely allow audience members and control crowds.
“We would love things like the idea of a passport or certificate saying you’ve been tested in the last 42 hours and you’re COVID free or you’ve had the vaccinations,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.
The mayor said there will be pop-up testing sites for patrons.
Before the lights come on, the theater community says they need six months to rehearse, get sets and costumes ready and orchestras tuned up under new guidelines that are still being set.