Disney Theatrical president Thomas Schumacher explains how the new production of the musical ‘Frozen’ that recently opened to 85 per cent capacity houses in Sydney is providing a roadmap for how to reopen Broadway amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schumacher, who is also the immediate past chairman of board of the Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway theatre industry, told cable news channel NY1 about the success of the project at Australia’s Capitol Theatre.
He explained that Frozen will act as a blueprint for reopening Broadway, with goals to have five productions of the musical running on four different continents by the end of 2021.
Schumacher explained: “We will learn a lot of our protocols and can test how all of our safety procedures are as safe as we want them to be. We need to test it while we’re in a place with a very low infection rate.
“We’re going to learn a lot about audiences, about people’s willingness to buy tickets, how people feel about restrictions, and we’re going to learn about health and safety. This is a trial balloon.”
The opening night of Frozen in Sydney welcomed 1,300 people, who were not required to socially distance. Fans were required to wear masks and follow other protocols, such as using contactless ticketing, and confirming they have watched a video telling audience members how things are going to work on the night.
Schumacher said everything started on time, with no complications or confusion from the audiences. He added: “Everyone teared up when the first invited audience came in.”
“You’re aware that it’s all about the people. The orchestra, the crew, the glorious cast and all the event staff – all of whom have been out of work.
“So you’re doing this to get them back to work. It’s thrilling because I feel like I’m eight months ahead of you as I can see what this is going to be like. I can see what the protocols are going to be like, I can see how we can work together and how we can feel safe.”
Broadway’s 41 New York City theatres have been shut since March 12 of last year due to COVID-19, and will remain closed until at least May 2021.
The reopening date has been pushed back several times over the course of the year, with shows initially set to be shut down through April 12, then June 7, then September 6 and then January 3, 2021.
Images: NY1 video screenshots