Simba, Elphaba, and Aaron Burr are ready to welcome Broadway audiences on Tuesday for the first time in nearly 18 months.
Some of the most recognizable musicals return this week following a year-and-a-half curtain call that's kept theater fans at home and performers and stagehands out of work.
"The Lion King," "Wicked," "Chicago" and "Hamilton" reopen for the first time since March 2020 on Tuesday, Sept. 14. They'll be followed later in the month by "Come From Away," "Six," "Moulin Rouge!," "Aladdin" and a handful of other productions.
A handful of productions have already welcomed back masked and fully vaccinated audiences, including "Waitress," "Hadestown," "Pass Over," and "Springsteen on Broadway." Also opening on Tuesday are previews of "Lackawanna Blues."
Broadway finally got the green light in May when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced productions could resume at full capacity after Labor Day. Quickly, producers and artists got to work preparing for a grand return in the fall.
"A lot of new protocols have been established, beginning with being required to have vaccinations and wear masks during the performance, or for children under 12: a test 6 hours before or a negative PCR test 72 hours before," president of the Broadway League, Charlotte St. Martin, said.
"Then obviously the disinfecting of surfaces and all of the things that go along with contact tracing are added as well. We’re doing everything that our infectious disease specialist and scientist have told us to do because once we open we want to stay open and keep everyone safe," St. Martin added.
The return of Broadway's biggest musicals will surely mark another substantial chapter in the city's recovery from a devastating pandemic. Ordinally, the theater industry brings in nearly $15 billion annually, according to CNBC.
Broadway World says ticket sales from the plays and musical in production the week before the March 2020 lockdown totaled $26.7 million. “Hamilton” brought in $2.69 million, the most of any show at the time, and "The Lion King" and "Wicked" were averaging close to $1.5 million per week in the weeks before, CNBC said.
"Jagged Little Pill," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Ain't Too Proud" have opening dates set in October. The new "Diana" musical and the Michael Jackson musical, "MJ," are slated for December.
The Broadway League says 15 shows in total will open in September, with 35 back on stage by the end of the year.