The bright lights of Broadway went dark in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic, costing thousands of jobs and more than a billion dollars in lost revenue.
“We’ve been absolutely decimated by this pandemic,” Broadway star and Tony-nominated actor and producer, Constantine Maroulis, tells Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.”
“It’s not just about the actors,” says Maroulis. “There are so many jobs at stake here. It’s about the front of house, stage crew, designers, production, not to mention the thousands of theaters across the country that are affected by this.”
Broadway theaters closed all of its shows March 12, including 16 that were still scheduled to open. The Tony Awards have been postponed indefinitely, and the pandemic-induced shutdown has proven too costly for some shows. Disney’s Broadway production of “Frozen” has already announced it won’t be returning to the stage when theaters reopen.
Maroulis, who starred in Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” and was a finalist in the 2005 season of “American Idol,” vows, “We will be back, for sure.” But just when the curtain will rise again is still a big question mark. Industry leaders are trying to come up with creative ways to adhere to social distancing protocols in what are typically tight Broadway theaters.
“I just don’t think it’s possible to do social distancing in the theater and have these expensive shows cover their gigantic overhead,” says Maroulis.
According to the Broadway League, it costs an estimated $300,000 per week to stage a play and a staggering $590,000 per week to put on a musical.
Maroulis is finding ways to make content from his home studio and has started teaching virtual master classes to people interested in a career in the arts.
“It’s not cheap being a single dad living in the suburbs with elderly parents,” says Maroulis. “Everyone is depending on you, and there’s a whole lot of ‘no work’ happening right now.”
Maroulis is still making music during the pandemic and is set to release his new album of original songs, “Until I’m Wanted,” July 10 on the independent label, Noble Steed.
Theater is in ‘grave danger’
Oscar and Tony-award winning director Sam Mendes recently wrote a piece in the Financial Times warning that theater and live entertainment are in “grave danger” and asked the British government for assistance. Mendes’ production of “The Lehman Trilogy” grossed over $10 million in its short run last season in London’s West End and was set to open on Broadway when the pandemic hit.
In 2019, Broadway grossed $1.8 billion and a record 15 million people attended shows. More than half of them were tourists.
New York City is set to enter Phase 2 of its re-opening June 22. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said live theater venues will have to wait until the final Phase 4 stage before theaters can reopen.
Some say that could happen by January, but Maroulis believes that timeline may be too optimistic.
When Broadway theaters do open their doors again, expect ticket prices, which average $116 a piece, to be steeply discounted, but will that be enough to get audiences back in the seats?
Alexis Christoforous is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.