Arts

No ‘Hamilton’ Until After Christmas, as Virus Upends the Performing Arts

The Broadway production of “Hamilton” canceled all performances until after Christmas as a spike in coronavirus cases batters the performing arts throughout North America as well as in London.

The cancellations, prompted by positive coronavirus tests among casts or crew members, come at the worst possible time for many productions, because the holiday season is typically the most lucrative time of year.

On Saturday and Sunday, about a third of Broadway shows canceled their performances. And there were multiple Covid-prompted cancellations Off Broadway, as well as in Chicago, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles and other cities.

“Hamilton,” a sold-out juggernaut that had been the top-grossing show on Broadway — cited breakthrough Covid-19 cases in its company as the reason for the cancellation. The show has been dark since Dec. 15 — the matinee went on as scheduled that day, but the evening performance was scrapped — and the first possible next performance is on Dec. 27.

The show is the second major Broadway musical to cancel this entire week, following “MJ,” a new musical about Michael Jackson, still in previews, that on Dec. 17 canceled all performances until Dec. 27, citing “multiple positive Covid tests within the company.”

The cancellations are now widespread, on Broadway and beyond. In most cases, producers say, the positive coronavirus tests are associated with mild or asymptomatic cases, but the performances are being canceled because there are not enough understudies or replacement workers to substitute for those who must miss the show. In recent days, all of the Broadway cancellations have been at large-cast productions, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Smaller productions — including most plays — have continued to run.

The last few days have been filled with grim news for those hoping the performing arts had finally moved past the devastatingly long pandemic shutdown.

The timing was particularly terrible for the Rockettes, who last week canceled all remaining performances of their annual Christmas Spectacular, a holiday staple for many tourists. Other holiday shows were affected too: A production of “A Christmas Carol” at the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles canceled all performances until after Christmas, while in Houston several performances of the Alley Theater’s production of the Christmas staple were canceled as well.

Concerns about the Omicron variant are also starting to take a toll on future productions: The first North American production of Tom Stoppard’s acclaimed new play, “Leopoldstadt,” was canceled entirely; it had been scheduled to begin a seven-week run in Toronto on Jan. 22. And in Ottawa, “Hamilton” postponed a scheduled run by six months.

The pandemic is once again hitting touring Broadway shows: “The Lion King” canceled its Sunday night performance in Denver. “Pretty Woman” canceled its final several performances in Chicago.

The dance world was hit, too: Alvin Ailey canceled performances at New York City Center, while Mark Morris canceled performances over the weekend at Zellerbach Hall at the University of California, Berkeley.

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