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Broadway Shutdown Due to COVID-19 Extended Again Until May 30

Αssociated Press

FILE - Broadway posters outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York on May 13, 2020. Broadway theaters may be dark but there will be plenty of new online productions of some of classic plays this fall. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK — Fans of Broadway will have to wait a little longer for shows to resume — until at least late May.

Although an exact date for various performances to resume has yet to be determined, Broadway producers are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for shows through May 30.

"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, which represents producers.

The latest delay was endorsed by Actors' Equity Association, which represents 51,000 theater actors and stage managers.

"Today the Broadway League made the difficult but responsible decision to put the safety and health of their workers and audience first. This is a deeply painful time for everyone who depends on the arts for their livelihood," said Mary McColl, executive director for Actors' Equity Association.

"We are at this moment because, seven months into the pandemic, our nation still lacks a coherent national strategy for masks and testing which could help bring the virus under control."

Broadway theaters abruptly closed on March 12, knocking out all shows — including 16 that were still scheduled to open — and scrambling the Tony Award schedule, with nominations this year set for Oct. 15.  Producers, citing health and city authorities, previously extended the shutdown to June 7, then again to Sept. 6 and again to Jan. 3.

The new timeframe may complicate a clutch of show that had planned to open in the spring, including "The Music Man," "Flying Over Sunset," "Caroline, or Change," "Plaza Suite," "American Buffalo" and "The Minutes." Within hours of the announcement, the musical based on Michael Jackson, called "MJ," pushed back its performances to September.

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.