Rockettes cancel all remaining 'Christmas Spectacular' shows in NYC due to COVID-19

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People stand in front of Radio City Music Hall after cancellations of The Rockettes performance due to COVID-19 cases on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, in New York. New York City had been mostly spared the worst of the big surge in COVID-19 cases that has taken place across the northeastern and midwestern U.S. since Thanksgiving, but the situation has been changing rapidly in recent days. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)
Radio City Music Hall was dark Friday after the last-minute cancellation of four of the Rockettes' holiday shows. The balance of the run was axed hours later. (Yuki Iwamura / Associated Press)

Hours after canceling four Friday shows just minutes before the first curtain rose, the Radio City Rockettes have ended their "Christmas Spectacular" run entirely due to the increasing spread of COVID-19.

"We thought we could make it through the season and are honored to have hosted hundreds of thousands of fans at more than 100 shows over the last seven weeks," the Rockettes website said. "We have loved bringing back this cherished tradition that helps usher in the holiday season in New York City and look forward to welcoming fans back to Radio City Music Hall in 2022."

Four shows were planned for most days through Jan. 2, with three shows on Dec. 21, 22 and 25 and Jan. 1 and 2, and two shows daily on Dec. 30 and 31. All tickets for canceled shows can be refunded through the point of purchase.

Friday's shows were canceled moments before the 11 a.m. performance was set to begin. The crowd was ordered to leave, according to local news station Fox 5, reporting that there were breakthrough COVID-19 cases among members of the production and some of the cases appeared to be among members of the orchestra.

Just last week, the state had partnered with the Rockettes on a vaccine drive, offering free tickets to the Christmas show to New Yorkers getting their booster shots, the city's local NBC affiliate said.

A message about cancellations displayed on a screen
A screen shows Friday's cancellation message. (Yuki Iwamura / Associated Press)

The Rockettes join a growing number of live-event cancellations as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus works its way through the country. COVID cases also are shuttering theaters hoping to bounce back after a brutal 18-month hiatus, with stages going dark on Broadway in New York City and in the West End theater district in London.

On Thursday, L.A.'s Center Theatre Group’s production of “A Christmas Carol” at the Ahmanson Theatre — starring Bradley Whitford as Ebenezer Scrooge and Kate Burton as the Ghost of Christmas Past — was suddenly canceled after breakthrough COVID-19 infections were detected within the company.

In New York, "Hamilton," "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," "Tina," "Ain't Too Proud," "Free Style Love Supreme" and the just-opened "Mrs. Doubtfire" were forced to cancel shows, and some restaurants have been temporarily closed.

“At the end of the day, we’ll follow the science, and the science will say, ‘You need to shut down this performance,’” Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin told the Associated Press on Thursday. “We anticipated that because they were telling us all along that if more people didn’t get their shots, that new variants would arrive and new variants would have cases. And guess what? It’s called Omicron.”

Earlier this week, in response to the growing public health consensus around the necessity of booster shots, New York’s Metropolitan Opera became the first major arts organization to announce it would require boosters for all eligible employees and audience members beginning Jan. 17.

In the U.K., "Hamilton," "The Lion King," "Life of Pi," "Come From Away” and “Matilda the Musical” canceled one or more performances this week because of outbreaks. And the National Theatre pulled the plug on “Hex” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” for the next two weeks “due to company illness.”

New mandates to control the spread of the coronavirus ahead of the holidays have been put in place in California.

On Wednesday, the state enacted a new indoor mask mandate that requires people to wear masks in public settings until Jan. 15. Los Angeles County, Ventura County and most of the San Francisco Bay Area already had similar orders in place; the new mandate changes things for roughly half the state’s population, including San Diego and Orange counties, the Inland Empire, the Central Valley and rural Northern California.

Some venues also are requiring proof of vaccination or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test for entry.

Times reporter Jessica Gelt contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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