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Broadway Marks 1 Year Closure Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

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One year ago Friday, the curtains closed and the lights went off as Broadway theaters were forced to close as coronavirus cases spread throughout the region. With Broadway bringing in $15 billion a year, New York City's economy took a big it. CBS2's Dana Tyler reports on what it will take to reopen.

Video Transcript

- It was one year ago today. The curtains closed, and the lights went off as Broadway theaters were forced to shut down as coronavirus cases spread throughout the region.

- And with Broadway bringing in $15 billion a year, New York City's economy took a big hit. CBS News' Dana Tyler reports now on what it will take to reopen.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- "Six," the pop musical, tells the story of the six wives of King Henry VIII. Opening night was March 12, 2020. But with 90 minutes till showtime, it was put on pause. 31 Broadway shows closed that night. New York's iconic theater district went eerily silent.

KEVIN MCCOLLUM: It wants people. And we want everybody to sit here.

DANA TYLER: Kevin McCollum has produced more than two dozen Broadway shows. He and others thought this unprecedented shutdown would be temporary. We met up with McCollum when he went back for the first time in a year to the Brooks Atkinson Theater, where "Six" is staged.

KEVIN MCCOLLUM: We did 3 and 1/2 weeks of previews where the theater was m and it was very exciting. And I think it was proper. We had to close because the cases started to spike.

DANA TYLER: The Broadway League says 97,000 people rely on the industry for their livelihoods, and each show lost at least a year of revenue.

KEVIN MCCOLLUM: Which is why we've been working with the federal government with the shuttered venues legislation. Because we are going to need money to restart.

- (SINGING) Listen up. Let me tell you a story.

DANA TYLER: But before anything happens, producers and theater owners need the green light from the city and state.

KEVIN MCCOLLUM: So if we're told that we can put tickets on sale, let's say, today, great. But when can we open? We need to be on sale at least six months before we do our first show.

DANA TYLER: And that's not all. He says health and safety protocols must be center stage.

KEVIN MCCOLLUM: We're not going to let anyone in this theater, onstage or backstage, if we feel there's any risk of putting them in any peril. Everyone's going to wear a mask, whether you're vaccinated or not.

DANA TYLER: You and I are sitting six feet apart. We are social distancing. Will theatergoers do that?

KEVIN MCCOLLUM: I don't think it's practical. We made that choice. Because we're six apart, but who is sitting right here in front of me? I'm, like, 24 inches.

DANA TYLER: McCollum says it's just not financially feasible in this 1,100-seat theater to restart at reduced capacity. McCollum is also a producer of "Mrs. Doubtfire."

[MUSIC PLAYING]

After the rehearsals and only three shows at the Stephen Sondheim Theater, the lights went out on Broadway. Zane Mark is the dance arranger for "Mrs. Doubtfire," and he had other shows on the horizon when the pandemic hit.

ZAKE MARK: I was doing "Mrs. Doubtfire." We were just starting rehearsals on "Aida." I had two other projects that we were supposed to be doing. So I went from four shows to no shows.

DANA TYLER: And then there was COVID.

ZAKE MARK: My wife and I are coronavirus survivors. That was about four weeks of hell.

DANA TYLER: Mark's wife is Tony award-winning actress Adriane Lenox, and their daughter, Crystal, also works in theater. Their family is part of the Broadway community.

ZAKE MARK: We check in on our people, we look in our people, and we support our people.

DANA TYLER: Like many shows, the cast of "Mrs. Doubtfire" used the downtime to continue to entertain theater fans--

- (SINGING) As long as there is love.

DANA TYLER: --despite the challenges.

ZAKE MARK: If there's anything good that's come out of this, I think we're a little tighter and a little stronger because of it.

KEVIN MCCOLLUM: When Broadway is back, New York is back, and America is back.

- (SINGING) But I'm unfaithful.

DANA TYLER: Till then, everyone is waiting in the wings. In the theater district, Dana Tyler, CBS 2 News.

- As of today, Broadway performances are currently suspended through May 30. The Broadway League is hopeful the theaters can reopen by the fall.

- We need them whether you go to shows or not. We need them bad.

- New York City needs them, right?

-Absolutely.