December is typically a boomtime for ticket sales to Broadway shows, followed by a post-holiday decline in January-February. But this season, with the unprecedented spread of COVID-19 Omicron variant infections, December 2021 saw daily cancellations, temporary postponements, and permanent closures due to positive test results of the casts and crews, concern for the health and safety of everyone on and off stage, and the economic viability of continuing performances through the traditionally slow months. Despite the determination of NYC and The Broadway League to remain open, it’s been a case in the theater community of each show being on its own to make the difficult individual decision to go on or to shut down, often at the very last-minute before curtain time, based on daily pre-performance monitoring.
The latest Broadway production to be impacted by Omicron is Mrs. Doubtfire, the new musical-comedy stage adaptation of the popular 1993 film, which opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on December 5, 2021, after an eighteen-month delay by the government-mandated closure of Broadway beginning on March 12, 2020. Already affected by previous diagnoses of Omicron among the team, producer Kevin McCollum announced yesterday that the show will take a nine-week hiatus from January 10-March 14; it is slated to return to the stage on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Tickets are now on sale for performances through November 20, 2022. Audience members currently holding tickets for performances on March 15 or later will keep their locations. Anyone with tickets during the hiatus can exchange for a later date or get a complete refund from point of purchase.
According to McCollum, “The first few months of a brand-new Broadway show are an extraordinarily delicate and important period of time. With the pervasiveness of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Mrs. Doubtfire would have to close permanently if the production didn’t take drastic, pro-active measures. Out of concern for the potential long-term employment of everyone who works on Mrs. Doubtfire, and the extended run of the show, we have decided that following the January 9 performance, the production will close for nine weeks, returning on March 15.”
McCollum went on to say, “Mrs. Doubtfire has been in development for six years. We are doing everything in our power to keep the virus from prematurely ending our run on Broadway. By taking this break we can afford to launch an extended run starting in March.” He added, “Finally, I would like to express my profound and unending admiration for our extraordinary cast, crew, orchestra, creative team, and entire company. They have risen to every challenge thrown at them over the last two years with a remarkable amount of resilience, good humor, grit, and love for one another. They embody the indomitable spirit of Broadway. I cannot wait for audiences to continue to enjoy what they have created in March!”
The production will continue to follow New York State, City, and CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of all actors, production staff, theater employees, and audience members who enter the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The ventilation system in the theater is equipped with MERV 15 filtration, in addition to rigorous cleaning and sanitation.
Mrs. Doubtfire plays through Sunday, January 9, 2022, and will resume on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 West 43rd Street, NYC. For tickets (starting at $49), call (212) 239-6200, or go online. Everyone must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and a valid photo ID to enter the building and must wear a properly fitted mask at all times inside.