Post-Thanksgiving, COVID-19 cases started rising off the charts thanks to the Omicron variant, and cases are expected to continue rising dramatically in the coming weeks. According to CNN, the United States is averaging the highest number of daily infections since January, 2021. What’s worse—given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant—is that cases are expected to continue rising through the start of January, with projections as high as a half-million new cases daily.
Once again, we are being encouraged to avoid large gatherings, particularly when the vaccination status of other folks is unknown.
I was hoping that this was in the rearview mirror, but again, the virus is rearing its ugly head, and just like with previous spikes, the entertainment industry will get hit hard. A dozen Broadway shows have canceled performances in the past week due to crew or cast members testing positive for COVID-19, among them Jagged Little Pill, The Lion King, Hamilton, Aladdin and Dear Evan Hansen.
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Fortunately, it appears that the shutdowns are short-term, with most of the victimized productions expected to resume soon. Not-so-short-term was the cancellation of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. The perennial show went dark on December 17 and canceled its remaining scheduled performances for the season due to breakthrough cases of the virus having been detected in members of the company.
The problem of rising COVID-19 cases or breakthrough cases causing cancellations is not limited to Broadway. Other productions impacted by the virus include the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (New York City Center), The Alchemist at the Red Bull Theater (off-Broadway), A Christmas Carol (Center Theater Group, Los Angeles) and several shows in Chicago, including Barry Manilow (Chicago Theater), Frozen (Cadillac Palace Theater), and A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theater).
Like many who work in the entertainment industry, I have tour dates on the calendar for 2022, some of which were moved from 2020 to 2021, then again from 2021 to the coming year. I sincerely hope they won’t be moved again from 2022 to 2023.
Looks like I may have to start holding my breath once more.