New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Broadway is a major part of the state’s identity and economy, announcing that tickets will go on sale from Thursday.

In this April 12, 2021 file photo, a man walks outside the shuttered John Golden Theatre amid the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, US.
In this April 12, 2021 file photo, a man walks outside the shuttered John Golden Theatre amid the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, US. (Reuters)

Live Broadway shows will return to the stage starting September 14 after an 18-month hiatus to fight the coronavirus pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.

Tickets will go on sale beginning on Thursday and theatres will be allowed to fill 100 percent of capacity, Cuomo said. 

Broadway theatres are among New York's biggest tourist attractions.

"Broadway is a major part of our state's identity and economy, and we are thrilled that the curtains will rise again," Cuomo said on Twitter.

Live theatre is one of the last sectors to come back after the pandemic because of the challenges of social distancing for actors on stage, for crews backstage and for audiences in cramped seating in old buildings.

While New York plans to lift most pandemic restrictions in two weeks, Broadway theatres need more time for rehearsals, marketing to draw crowds, and other steps.

"Restarting Broadway is a complex endeavor," said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, an industry group.

"Today's green light by the governor to put our shows on sale now for the fall is vital to our success."

READ MORE: Broadway extends shutdown until May 2021

Tourist attraction

Producers will work with state authorities on what safety measures will be required. 

It is possible theaters will mandate proof of a coronavirus vaccination for audience members, New York budget director Robert Mujica said.

"Will people feel comfortable sitting right next to another individual without knowing their vaccination status?" Mujica said at a news conference. 

"What we do know from surveys is that the answer is no."

Thousands of actors, dancers, musicians and backstage crew were thrown out of work when Broadway theaters closed in March 2020. 

Some shows, including the hit musicals "Frozen" and "Mean Girls," have said they will not return.

Thirty-one Broadway shows were in production when the shutdown began, including hits such as "Hamilton," "The Lion King" and "Wicked."

Each returning show will announce its reopening date in the coming weeks, the Broadway League said.

More than 14.8 million tickets were sold for Broadway shows in the 2018-2019 season, bringing $1.8 billion in box office receipts, according to the Broadway League. 

Some 63 percent of those going to shows were tourists, from outside the United States or outside New York.

"It's time to get back to work, and I can't wait to be back on stage very soon," said Sara Bareilles, songwriter and star of the musical "Waitress."

Source: Reuters