Earlier this month, the Broadway community announced that face masks will no longer be required for audience members of Broadway shows. The Broadway League shared that the new face mask requirement will go into effect on July 1, 2022. It is unclear if this new rule will remain in effect after July.
In a previously announced article by Playbill.com , many Broadway houses decided to stop checking vaccination requirements after April 30. The loosening of these mask and COVID-19 vaccine restrictions by the Broadway League has caused tension in the Broadway community. Performers are not feeling protected. Apparently, the Broadway League made the decision without consulting Actor’s Equity (the union created to protect actors), according to Deadline.
Are Masks and Vax Requirements Audience Deterrents?
Ideally, producers want as many patrons in the audiences of Broadway shows as possible. If the masses aren’t buying tickets, the shows cannot remain open. On the flip side, Broadway shows are continuously being shut down for days at a time. If the shows don’t put themselves entirely put on pause as company members contract the COVID-19 virus, keeping the shows afloat is no easy task. Broadway’s swings, understudies, and standbys are making herculean efforts to help the shows go on.
For instance, just this month, leading man Hugh Jackman tested positive for COVID-19. He was, therefore, unable to perform the role of Harold Hill in The Music Man at the Winter Garden theater. Fortunately, he has since returned to the show. Given the headline status of his name on this production, it is likely that some ticket holders were disappointed by his, albeit temporary, absence.
Protect the Performers, Put on a Mask
Understudy Max Clayton made his debut in the role of Harold Hill to thunderous applause. And principal actors, like Jackman, have truly stepped up to the plate in getting audiences to honor understudies, as they should. However, if the big name actors like Hugh Jackman are the ones bringing people to the theaters, shouldn’t the Broadway League try to help keep those and all of the performers as safe as possible from potential COVID-19 exposure?