NEW YORK (77 WABC) — There’s no flocking to Broadway this summer. Shows are shuttered until at least Labor Day because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Actors, stage hands and all the technical workers are unable to work.
And then there are the producers who risk losing their cash as the weeks dragged on.
Mark Lonow and his wife of 51 years, Jo Anne Astrow, are investors in three current productions.
They are backers of the critical hit Tina- The Tina Turner Musical, which opened in November, and two shows that got into previews when the shutdown started: Mrs. Doubtfire, based on the Robin Williams blockbuster comedy, and Company, a reboot of the Stephen Sondheim classic.
“You can’t bail,” Lonow told WABCRadio.com in a zoom chat. “Our money’s in it.”
“What could happen,” Astrow injected. “In September or January, we could get a call from [Mrs. Doubtfire lead producer] Kevin McCollum asking for more capital and that we will have to make a decision on.”
The husband and wife producers, who’ve done stand-up comedy (had ownership in the Improv comedy clubs) and appeared in many TV shows, are concerned that audiences will not rush back until therapeutics or a vaccine is available to the public.
“Yeah, we’ll open and we have the companies, music and great shows, but will people come?” Lonow wondered.
And if they do decide to attend, what will the theater experience look like post-coronavirus? Will social distance rules force producers to reduce capacity?
“Guess what, we won’t have enough grosses to stay open,” Lonow admitted.
On Thursday, Disney’s Frozen became the first long-running casualty, when producers announced the show, no matter when Broadway opens, will be without the beloved musical. It opened March 22, 2018.
Lonow said having a smaller house could also pose an obstacle for performers.
“There’s a kinetic sense between the audience and the actors. Will it be there if every other seat is empty? Lonow asked. “Who knows.”
Intermission could be another challenge when throngs of people go to the bathroom.
“There are many other details that have to really be thought out,” Lonow said.
He doesn’t think face coverings would be a deterrent for people looking for a return to normal.
Astrow countered, “It would not be entertaining to me. I might say, ‘I’d rather watch television.'”