amBroadway | Broadway gets ready for vaccine rules, ‘Sunday’ creators and stars look back and more

Jon Michael Hill in rehearsal for PASS OVER – photo by Marc Franklin
Jon Michael Hill in rehearsal for PASS OVER
Photo by Marc Franklin

Broadway gets ready for vaccine rules

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio made it explicitly clear that it will be necessary to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend live indoor performances. As it turns out, Broadway was already on top of this. 

Last week, the owners and operators of the 41 theaters on Broadway announced that all audience members will need to be vaccinated and wear face masks (except while eating or drinking in designated areas) through at least October, with the same rules applying to performers, backstage workers and theater staff.

“Springsteen on Broadway,” which opened on June, and the new play “Pass Over,” which just began previews, already required audience members to be vaccinated. 

“A uniform policy across all New York City Broadway theaters makes it simple for our audiences and should give even more confidence to our guests about how seriously Broadway is taking audience safety, Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League (the trade group representing Broadway theater owners and producers), said in a statement. 

Shows returning to Broadway in September alone include “Hadestown,” “Waitress,” “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” “The Lion King,” “Chicago,” “Six,” “American Utopia,” “Moulin Rouge!” and “Come From Away, and new plays will include “Lackawanna Blues” and “The Lehman Trilogy.” 

Broadway had intended to make exceptions for those under the age of twelve (who are currently not eligible for vaccines) and those who with a “closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination,” all of whom would need to prevent proof of a recent negative test result for COVID-19 in order to be admitted. 

de Blasio indicated that children under age 12 (who are not yet eligible for the vaccine) will not be excluded from attending Broadway shows. Had that been the case, family-friendly long-running musicals like “The Lion King” and “Wicked” would probably be unable to reopen. On the other hand, the Metropolitan Opera has announced that it will not permit unvaccinated children to attend.

One show that is currently permitting unvaccinated audience members to attend is the outdoor Shakespeare in the Park production of “Merry Wives,” where the unvaccinated (who are not required to show proof of negative testing) are seated in physically distanced sections of the Delacorte Theatre. 

‘Sunday’ creators and stars look back

“Sunday in the Park with George,” Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s masterful, complex and rewarding 1984 musical, is the subject of “Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created ‘Sunday in the Park with George,’” a behind-the scene look at the musical’s creation in which Lapine interviews everyone involved in the work’s unorthodox creation and period of development. To celebrate the book’s release this week, Christine Baranski (who appeared in the original Off-Broadway workshop of “Sunday”) interviewed Sondheim and Lapine, along with the show’s original stars, Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, during a livestream event produced by Town Hall on Tuesday night. 

 In conversation, Lapine explained that the inspiration for the book came to him while watching the 2017 Broadway revival of “Sunday” (starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford) and trying to understand how the show (which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and recharged Sondheim’s career following the critical and commercial demise of “Merry We Roll Along”) came together in an extremely unlikely and untested manner. At one point, Patinkin choked up while recalling how, right before critics arrived to review the show, Lapine urged everyone to believe in the show. 

In Other Theater News…

Natalie Mendoza will take over as Satine in “Moulin Rouge!” from Karen Olivo, who quit the production to protest what she believed to be the theater industry’s indifference to the Scott Rudin bullying scandal…Director-choreographer Graciela Daniele (“Once On This Island,” “Ragtime”) will receive a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement…A Broadway revival of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf” is in the works.