amBroadway: Playroom Theater closes for good, return date for theater remains a mystery and more

Dan Butler in THE WEIR, Photo by Carol Rosegg
Dan Butler in “The Weir” (Photo by Carol Rosegg)

Playroom Theater shuts its doors

Off-Broadway’s Playroom Theater in Times Square has closed for good as a result of COVID-19. Opened in 2011 by producer Eric Krebs, the 62-seat venue played host to countless small-scale performances produced under Actors’ Equity’s Showcase Code in addition to auditions and readings. Popular shows at the theater included “That Physics Show” and “That Chemistry Show.” “Little theaters are important engines that are the heart of performance for emerging artists in New York City,” Krebs said in a statement. “Unfortunately, with theaters closed for most of the year, and the impossibly high rents for space, the Playroom has come to its end.”

Return date for theaters still unknown

Although New York City officially entered Phase 4 of the state’s reopening process on Monday, it is currently unclear when theaters will receive permission to reopen. Over in England, theaters have received the go-ahead to reopen beginning Aug. 1 so long as extensive social distancing measures (including reduced seating capacity and deep cleaning) are in place. However, numerous theater companies and producers have indicated that reopening under those circumstances is simply not feasible. “We’ve got to get to a pilot where we don’t have social distancing…With very, very basic measures, it is possible to safely reopen theaters,” composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (who owns multiple London theaters) said in an interview with the BBC. 

Broadway fundraiser for Kennedy falls apart

A virtual Broadway fundraiser for Joe Kennedy III (who is waging a primary battle against Democratic Senator Ed. Markey of Massachusetts) that was scheduled for July 21 was scrapped following fierce arguments on Twitter among theater artists and fans over Kennedy. Several performers (including Kelli O’Hara and songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) withdrew even before the event was called off. George Salazar (“Be More Chill”), who opposed the event, wrote on Twitter that “trading a progressive senator with a hedge fund baby is not the move…Broadway peers: please make sure we’re researching politicians before signing on to lend our talents to their campaigns.” In response, the Kennedy campaign expressed regret over “the cyberbullying so many of our event participants were subjected to.”

Second Stage announces 2021 lineup

Second Stage, which recently pushed back the Broadway revival of the baseball drama “Take Me Out” to April 2021, has announced plans to also present new plays by Lynn Nottage (“Ruined,” “Sweat”) and Rajiv Joseph (“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”) in 2021. Nottage’s untitled play (which will be produced on Broadway in Fall 2021) explores the formerly incarcerated kitchen staff of a truck stop sandwich shop. Joseph’s “Letters of Suresh (which will be produced Off-Broadway in Spring 2021) revolves around letters exchanged by a variety of people that reveal the need for human connection.

This week’s streaming recommendations:

  1. Misalliance (livestreamed reading of Bernard Shaw farce), Sat., July 25 at 2 p.m., starsinthehouse.com.
  2. The Weir (Off-Broadway’s Irish Rep presents a digital version of Conor McPherson’s pub drama filmed from quarantine), through Sat., July 25, irishrep.org.
  3. Lucia di Lammermoor (2011 performance of Donizetti opera starring Natalie Dessay and Joseph Calleja), Mon., July 27 at 7:30 p.m., metopera.org.

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