‘Aladdin’ Is First Broadway Show To Cancel Performance Due To Covid Breakthrough, One Day After Reopening
Only a day after resuming performances on Broadway, Disney’s musical Aladdin shut down due to several positive Covid tests within the company.
“Through our rigorous testing protocols, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been detected within the company of ‘Aladdin’ at the New Amsterdam Theater,” Disney
No word yet on whether tonight’s performance will happen. Representatives said an update is forthcoming, and that the company is monitoring all those affected.
“We will continue to provide support to the affected ‘Aladdin’ company members as they recover.”
This is not the first case of Covid within a Broadway company since shows started reopening in June. Waitress, which closed before the pandemic but was revived partly to be filmed while starring its composer Sara Bareilles, had a company member test positive on its first night back. And that was it: the actor tested positive, nobody else did, and the understudy replaced them with relatively little fuss.
Aladdin, too, even on its first performance had to put in several understudies, according to The New York Times
While nobody’s dream, breakthroughs are of potentially even greater concern for Aladdin and Disney’s other hit, The Lion King, than other Broadway shows, as the two musicals are squarely aimed at families with children. Given that children under 12 are not yet eligible to receive vaccines, they are at a higher risk of transmission. (All Broadway buyers over 12 must be vaccinated to enter a theater – children may attend certain shows, but only present proof of a negative test).
However, if any show were to cancel performances due to Covid, it might as well be one backed by the world’s largest media company. A lost night here or there for Aladdin doesn’t carry the dreadful aura that it might on, say, a new, non-franchise musical that is trying to build momentum.
The breakthrough understandably caused ripples of concern throughout the industry, even if it was handled and contained safely. While Broadway’s recovery is underway, it is slow and uneven. Some shows, like the aforementioned Waitress, have been selling briskly, according to a sources with access to the box office numbers. Others not so much.
Unfortunately, the industry’s trade organization has made the short-sighted decision not to release public gross reports, so a full picture of the pandemic’s toll won’t be visible for months. While this may protect a few producers’ egos, it also deprives policy makers of real-time economic data that could be vital to tracking the sector’s recovery, and its potential need of further aid this winter.
Fortunately, travel restrictions between the US and Europe will loosen come November. As about 20% of Broadway buyers pre-pandemic were international tourists, the change in protocol may give the industry a boost – or at least counter any lost revenue from other cancelled performances or audiences still girding themselves for a return to the theatre.