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Broadway theater shutdown extended through May 2021

Audiences won't be allowed back inside New York City's Broadway theaters until Summer 2021, and the wait could still be longer than that.

New York City's Broadway theaters will remain dark until at least Summer 2021, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Broadway League announced Friday morning that Broadway's shutdown has been extended through May 30, 2021.

Broadway performances were initially suspended on March 12, in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, there were 31 shows running, including eight new productions in previews. There were also eight more shows in rehearsals preparing to open before the shutdown hit. 

The shutdown was previously extended to June 2020 then to September 2020 and then again to Jan. 3, 2021.

The Broadway League said that dates for returning and new shows will be announced by each individual production. 

“With nearly 97,000 workers who rely on Broadway for their livelihood and an annual economic impact of $14.8 billion to the city, our membership is committed to re-opening as soon as conditions permit us to do so. We are working tirelessly with multiple partners on sustaining the industry once we raise our curtains again,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League.

A number of productions had been planning to resume shows in early 2021. The extended shutdown could impact several new shows that were planning for an opening in the spring, including “MJ,” “Flying Over Sunset,” “Caroline or Change," “Plaza Suite,” “American Buffalo,” “The Minutes” and a production of “The Music Man” starring Hugh Jackman.

Shortly after Friday morning's announcement, "The Music Man" revival announced it intends to begin previews in December 2021. 

It’s not yet clear when Broadway theaters will be able to open again. Sources told NY1 that "The Lion King" and "The Phantom of the Opera" will most likely not reopen until the fall of 2021.

Even if Broadway shows were to resume in June, the closure will have lasted more than a year.

Actors’ Equity Association, the national union that represents actors and stage managers, has urged lawmakers to include arts funding and loans to help those who work in the live performing arts.

The move by the Broadway League comes less than a month after the Metropolitan Opera said it will skip an entire season for the first time in its nearly 140-year history and intends to return from the pandemic layoff next September.

In London, producer Cameron Mackintosh has said his company’s West End productions of “Hamilton,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Mary Poppins” and “Les Miserables” won’t reopen until 2021 due to the pandemic. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., has canceled most previously announced performances and events through the end of 2020, as has the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston.

Broadway grossed $1.8 billion last season and attracted a record 15 million people. Producers and labor unions are discussing ways theaters can reopen safely.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera announced last month that it would be canceling all of its shows until Fall 2021.  

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Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
People walk by the "Hamilton" marquee at the Richard Rogers Theatre on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.