May 6 (UPI) -- Tickets for Broadway shows go on sale Thursday as New York City continues to ease COVID-19 restrictions and theaters on the Great White Way prepare to reopen to full capacity four months from now.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new details Wednesday on the return of Broadway shows after an 18-month hiatus. The theaters shut down when cases began to surge in New York City in March 2020 and haven't returned since.
"Broadway is at the core of our New York identity, and a big part of our economy which employs countless performers and show creators," Cuomo said, according to WPIX-TV.
The Broadway League directed theatergoers to the official Broadway website for information on show times and performances.
"Anticipated dates for each returning and new Broadway production will be announced in the coming weeks on a show-by-show basis as individual productions and their producers determine the performance schedules and timelines for their respective shows," the Broadway League said in a statement Wednesday.
Cuomo announced Monday that New York City restaurants, museums, movie theaters and retail stores will have capacity restrictions lifted on May 19. The capacity at Broadway shows also will be lifted on May 19, but show producers say they need time to advertise and market before the grand reopening scheduled for Sept. 14.
Producers also say the additional time is necessary to rehearse with actors who have been out of work for 18 months.
Another factor in the strategy is the challenge of anticipating when crowds might be ready to return to crowded theaters, producers say. Theaters need to be at full capacity -- not physically distanced -- for the shows to make money -- so safety protocols, even months from now, are also a concern.
The New York Times reported that one of the first major shows to sell tickets will be The Phantom of the Opera, which will open sales on Friday for performances beginning Oct. 22.
Before the end of the year, about 30 shows are planning to begin performances in Broadway theaters, the Times reported.
The city's 41 Broadway theaters sold close to $2 billion in tickets in 2019, drawing almost 15 million theatergoers.