After over a year of industry-wide closures, Broadway theaters finally reopened in September, but 2021 did not end the way theater professionals hoped it would. The late 2021 comeback had largely bucked London’s touch-and-go reopening earlier that summer: only a handful of Broadway productions temporarily closed due to delta infections. But omicron outbreaks late in the year stalled live theater. Before Christmas, 18 productions canceled performances. Five shows closed permanently in December, citing extreme uncertainty ahead this winter and increased challenges from the pandemic.
If some shows can’t go on under these conditions, how Broadway producers are choosing to close is creating a new labor controversy involving artists already among the hardest-hit by the pandemic.