Do you enjoy live theater? If so, do you like musicals best, or are you more a fan of plays? When was the last time you saw a theatrical performance live?
In New York City last week, big shows like “The Lion King,” “Wicked” and “Hamilton” resumed performances, 18 months after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close. Have you ever seen a show on Broadway?
In “Curtains Up! How Broadway Is Coming Back From Its Longest Shutdown.,” Michael Paulson gives an overview of the “high-stakes gamble” involved in staging live shows right now:
Broadway is back. Or so it hopes.
A year and a half after the coronavirus pandemic forced all 41 theaters to go dark, silencing a symbol of New York and throwing thousands out of work, some of the industry’s biggest and best known shows are resuming performances on Tuesday.
Simba will reclaim the Pride Lands in the “The Lion King.” Elphaba and Glinda will return to Oz in “Wicked.” A young, scrappy and hungry immigrant will foment revolution in “Hamilton.” The long-running revival of “Chicago” will give ’em the old razzle dazzle. Plus there’s one new production, the childhood reminiscence “Lackawanna Blues,” offering a reminder that Broadway still provides a home for plays, too.
Broadway’s reopening is a high-stakes gamble that theater lovers, culture vultures and screen-weary adventurers are ready to return — vaccinated and masked — to these storied sanctuaries of spectacle and storytelling.
But it comes at a time of uncertainty.
Back in May, when Broadway got the green light to reopen, it seemed imaginable that the coronavirus pandemic was winding down, thanks to readily available vaccines. Since then, a combination of vaccine hesitancy and the Delta variant sent cases skyrocketing again. And while New York is doing better than much of the nation, the city is still facing a sharp drop in tourists, who typically make up two-thirds of the Broadway audience; many businesses in the region have postponed bringing workers back to their offices; and consumer appetite for live theater after months of anxiety and streaming remains unknown.
Students, read the entire article, then tell us:
Are you a fan of theater? What are some of the most memorable shows you have ever seen, whether staged at your school, on Broadway or elsewhere? What do you like most about seeing live shows?
Have you ever been in a play? What was that experience like? What might audience members not understand about what it takes to produce live theater?
If you’re not a theater fan, can you imagine a show that might entice you? If so, what might it be like?
If someone bought you a ticket as a gift, what show playing now would you most want to see, and why? Scroll through this list to consider an array of options including Tony contenders, plays by Black authors, docudramas and long-running crowd-pleasers.
If you could travel back in time, what one show from Broadway history would you choose to see? Here is a list of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time. Which would you pick, and why?
The article traces all of the work that goes into getting shows ready for live audiences again, and explores the hopes and the concerns about whether this gamble will pay off. Now that you’ve read the article, do you think all of the work is worth it? Are the rewards of live theater enough to justify everything that must go on behind the scenes to make it relatively safe during a pandemic? Why or why not?
Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.