2021 has been the year of Broadway's comeback. But, what’s next?
The greatest story told on Broadway this year may have been its own -- bouncing back from a year-and-a-half long shutdown only to end the year in uncertainty again amid the Omicron surge.
2021 has been the year of Broadway's comeback, the curtain rising again after the 18-month pandemic shutdown. Who would have thought rock and roll would kick off Broadway's comeback, but "Springsteen on Broadway" did just that.
The music legend's residency at the St. James Theater was the first show performed for a Broadway audience, beginning in June.
Later in the summer, the drama "Pass Over" became the first play to open since the shutdown, beginning the rollout of more than 30 plays and musicals to take the stage.
Nearly two and a half million people have seen a Broadway show this year, according to the Broadway League. But Broadway relies on tourists to fill around two thirds of its seats. Travel restrictions and lingering COVID-19 concerns have taken a toll on the box office.
"We haven't come all the way back, not even close,” says Caleb Silver, with Investopedia. “When you look at unemployment in that sector in and around Broadway and also revenue to the shows, we are a far cry from making it all the way back."
But the impact of the reopening is evident far beyond the footlights, with many who are employed on Broadway living throughout the tristate area now with more opportunity to get back to work.
The Broadway League is confident that this time, the lights of Broadway will stay bright.
The bar is high for Broadway's revival – 2019, the last full year of performances, set a record as the most attended ever, with more than 14 million theatre-goers.