New York City’s theater producers are taking the old showbiz phrase “the show must go on” extra seriously this month.
As the new coronavirus outbreak makes New Yorkers increasingly jittery about being in close quarters with strangers, producers of five Broadway shows are teaming up to make theater fans an offer they hopefully can’t refuse—super cheap seats. In a combined announcement today, the producers said all remaining seats for the shows would be available for $50 from March 12 through March 29. The shows are:
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- West Side Story
- The Lehman Trilogy
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- The Book of Mormon
The mix of musicals and plays taking part in the offer suggests Broadway producers across the board are bracing for the outbreak’s impact: West Side Story, for instance, is one of the hottest tickets of the new season, while Book of Mormon has been a consistent seller for years. The through-line with this batch of shows is mega-producer Scott Rudin, whose Scott Rudin Productions is the engine behind them.
Whether or not $50 seats will entice people to brave the crowds in a city where new COVID-19 cases have been skyrocketing over the past week remains to be seen, but theater fans may never get a better deal than this. The average price for a Broadway ticket these days is more than twice that amount, and good seats at a top show can run you upwards of $400 a pop.
In a statement explaining the offer, Rudin did not mention the coronavirus outbreak but suggested that the Broadway industry would continue to operate as long as New York City is “open for business.”
“I can’t pretend that great theater is the panacea we’ve been waiting for, but in the meantime I think we could all use a few hours away from the evening news,” Rudin said.
As of Tuesday, New York state had 140 confirmed cases of COVID-19. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has encouraged people to work from home, but so far the city has stopped short of mandating the closure of public gatherings.
The Broadway League, the trade association that represents the industry, said this week that theaters are being cleaned and disinfected more frequently amid the outbreak, and alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers are on hand at Broadway venues for public use.
Maybe just don’t touch the seats after you pay for them.