#MIKECHECK | BROADWAY AFTER COVID?
By Mike Hallinan | Arts & Entertainment Columnist
As solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic such as vaccines and treatments reach the public, it is very difficult to not look at the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that has been the world during these times. However, there lies a potentially bigger question behind when will Broadway reach that light that we may be ignoring which is what will the landscape of Broadway look like when it reopens. It is pretty safe to say that the pandemic has changed a great many things not just in the interim, but perhaps for good. Taking a look at the solutions artists have found during this pandemic may provide some of the answers.
It is undeniable that many theater aficionados crave the return of live performances, whether it be plays, musicals, or concerts. Those live performances will surely be back, but they may be in ways we saw before the pandemic, as well as during. This pandemic has really seen artists get creative in providing their art for the masses. These performances may put producers at an advantage. Imagine that you run a popular cabaret venue for Broadway performers. The pandemic has seen places like Birdland and Feinstein’s/54 Below present acts that usually packed their venue, but in an intimate virtual setting. Now, in a world after the pandemic where a Birdland can book Ben Vereen for a live performance at their venue, while also having a pay-per-view online event starring Sierra Boggess. Through this, a venue can make a ton of money, both from revenue from the place itself, as well as revenue from tickets sold for the online event.
The development of new performances can , and likely will, evolve as a result of the pandemic. These times have shown that all the World Wide Web can now provide a helpful, not to mention affordable, stage. Who’s to say that someone cannot create a one man show that they can record from the confines of their home and air it to an online audience. Producers developing new works may also take advantage of the technology to host readings for prospective backers within a Zoom call. New plays could have their first run be produced in a single online video that authors can send to producers, or better yet invite them to watch as it is happening live. Instead of the old form of sending a script, writers of original content now have the chance to create a whole show for prospective producers. This pandemic may have provided its fair share of problems has also left creative solutions for when live performances resume.
The answers to what the landscape of Broadway will look like when live performances resume are at the very least months away. That doesn’t mean however that we cannot dream about what life will be like after the curtain. Our world has continued to change, in ways that have seemed both sudden, such as a global pandemic, and gradual. What should continue to remain is hope. Hope that the future contains solutions that will see each other improve our skills and enrich our world. The future shall come. In the meantime, we should just standby and come together.
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