It has officially been two weeks since the “social distancing guidelines” set by the Federal Government went into effect, and if one thing is clear from the confusing chatter coming from the Presidential pressers every day, it’s this . . .
It’s going to be a bit before the country opens back up, never mind Broadway.
As of yesterday, gone is the embarrassing goal of an Easter “re-opening” for the country with “packed churches.” (I mean, I love setting lofty BHAGs, but anyone in the achievement space knows that setting an impossible goal only sets yourself up for failure – and failing at a goal makes it harder for you to achieve the next one . . . and harder for your followers to believe that you will achieve that next one.)
The next deadline for a re-examining of the social distancing guidelines, and therefore a determination of whether or not some businesses will reopen, (set again by the guy currently in the White House) is April 30th.
But if you’re listening to Fauci, it’ll be longer. Much longer. And even though NY’s Governor Cuomo has kept non-essential workers home only through April 15th, he’s also acknowledging that NY has a bigger problem than anywhere else in the US – so how could it ever open up soon?
In the muck of all these differing opinions, one thing has become very clear to me . . .
Different sections of the country will open up at different times.
And more importantly, within those geographic locations, different types and sizes of businesses will open up at different times.
It’s common sense.
The idea of one day waking up and having it go back to the way it was six months ago, with Basketball games packin’ arenas and with OpenTable tellin’ us there wasn’t a reservation to be had at your favorite restaurant, is the kind of Hollywood happy ending that’s just not going to happen.
It’s just not going to be that kind of “Alexa, apartment lights on,” type of switch.
The virus didn’t shut everything in the country down in 24 hours and it won’t let us restart everything in 24 hours either.
It’s going to be gradual.
And it has to be. As Cuomo (the only politician I’m listening to these days) said in one of his pressers, he does need to get the economy, any part of that economy, going again as soon as possible. And the moment he can let ten people go to a meeting to discuss how to sell a product, he will. The moment he can let hundred people go to a restaurant, he will.
And the moment he can let 1,500 people go to a Broadway show, he will.
But I’m doubtful it’ll be all those things will be all at once. And it shouldn’t be.
Which brings me to this . . .
Will Off-Broadway be allowed to open up before Broadway?
And could the 499-or-less theaters that fall within that definition, or even the Off-Off Broadway theaters (at 99 seats or less) get a boost of attention and ticket sales first . . . before the Broadway factory is allowed to be operational?
I’d bet money that smaller theaters will be given permission to open up before the larger ones. That means they could be the sole producers of live theater in the city. Usually these smaller theaters are getting Broadway’s hand-me-down audiences, but this could be one of the few chances they have to get the theater audience all to themselves. (This is exactly what happened during the last strike in 2007 – and the Off-Broadway shows I had running, including this one and this one, boomed as a result).
And maybe, this could be another steroid shot to the renaissance of Off-Broadway that began last year (which I wrote about here).
If I were an Off-Broadway theater . . . or was producing an Off-Broadway show, I’d look to see how I could have something ready to go for when we are allowed to gather again. Because in the midst of this darkness, there just might be a chance to stand out.
Or as John F. Kennedy said, “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity.”
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Tonight at 8 PM on my nightly live stream, Tony Award-winner, Steven Sater, the bookwriter of Spring Awakening! Watch on my Facebook page here. And click here to see who else is joining us this week!