Select New York theaters, indoor arts venues to reopen in April

Select New York theaters, indoor arts venues to reopen in April
Music Box Theatre in New York City. Photo: Ajay Suresh.

New Yorkers will begin to see the return of indoor live performances in April, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday during a press conference.

Starting April 2, select arts venues will be able to host audiences with reduced capacity limited to 33% occupancy “for the particular area.” The maximum number of allowed people — not including performers, crew and necessary staff — will increase to 150 indoors and 500 outdoors, granted all attendees produce a negative diagnostic test result prior to the event. Venues that cannot test all patrons will be limited to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.

Though plans for Broadway to return remain hazy, theaters will begin reopening in April through a series of NY PopsUp programs. The Music Box Theatre, home of “Dear Evan Hansen,” will be the first stage to welcome visitors since Broadway shut down on March 12. Details of the performances are yet-to-be-released, but organizers state that the NY PopsUp program, which kicked off Feb. 20, will serve as a guide toward the commercial reopening of Broadway.

“We are delighted that fans will once again be able to experience live performance events through PopsUp,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement. “While Broadway productions are not able to return just yet, we’re glad that arts venues, including select Broadway theatres, will be able to open their doors and give the public a taste of what we’ve all been missing so much through these dark months.”

Among the first performance spaces to reopen as part of the NY PopsUp program will be flexible venues that can accommodate social distancing. Among the sites included as “Flex Venues” are the Apollo, Park Avenue Armory, St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Shed, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, National Black Theatre and the Glimmerglass Festival’s Alice Busch Opera Theater.

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In response to the announcement, Actors’ Equity Association, a union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theater, urged Cuomo to prioritize vaccinating arts workers.

“Much like workers in the restaurant industry, our members lack the ability to socially distance throughout their entire workdays, making vaccines critical for maintaining a safe workplace,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with the state on reopening the live arts in a way that protects workers, as well as the audience.”

The news of live performance and event venues reopening comes after the recent announcement that movie theaters in New York City may begin allowing patrons March 5.

Top Image: Music Box Theatre in New York City. Photo: Ajay Suresh.