Josh Groban & Ariana DeBose Perform at “The Show Must Go On” Premiere

Opera theater

The chandelier inside the Majestic Theater – the iconic gold fixture that crumbles into the audience as the “Phantom of the Opera” reaches its climax in act one – is always dark, and it will remain so until. ‘at least at the end of October.

But on Monday night, the theater community gathered at the Majestic – the first time in more than 500 days that the Broadway Theater has opened – to celebrate the premiere of “The Show Must Go On,” a new documentary chronicling the pandemic theater closures around the world.

Co-directed and produced by Sammi cannold and Dori Berinstein, “The Show Must Go On” chronicles the shutdown of the industry and follows the world tour of “The Phantom of the Opera” and the South Korean tour of “Cats” – two productions which, against all expectations, continued their programming in spring and summer 2020 to open shows in South Korea from May. As Broadway closed and global economies collapsed, both productions became beacons for theatrical innovation during the pandemic, possibly the only live theater in the world.

On Monday, the irony of this comparison abounded.

“It’s pretty meta to be in a theater watching a movie about two productions that went ahead,” Cannold said. Variety to the first. “And the irony is not lost on me that we are here at the Majestic tonight and ‘Phantom’ is not.”

“When we first planned this premiere,” she continued, “it looked like the pandemic was in the rearview mirror and we were armed for the resurgence of the theater, but now we’re in a state again. precarious.”

With shows like “Hadestown” starting rehearsals this week and two productions in theaters – Bruce Springsteen’s solo concert and Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over”, a new play that began its performances at the August Wilson Theater this week. last – Broadway is on its way to reopen. But the industry – which generated nearly $ 2 billion in 2019 and employed 100,000 people – is still in shambles, tiptoeing through the fall with no clear idea whether the increase in cases will block a reopening, presale ticket purchases will resume or people from the outside will return to occupy seats on a sustained basis.

“From chaos always comes the opportunity”, Imogen Lloyd Webber, author and daughter of Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose advocacy in the UK led to the reopening of the West End, said Variety on the red carpet. “I think this is an exciting time for theater and Broadway,” she said. “There are wonderful shows and new writers. In London, everyone was jumping from their seats.

But on Broadway, it wasn’t clear if his optimism was deserved.

Yes, the theater community came in droves to celebrate the film – with Sierra Boggess, Adrienne warren, Ariana DeBose, Shereen Pimentel, Lillias White, Jason gotay and Amber Gray, the latter still wearing her “Hadestown” rehearsal binder in attendance. Josh groban took the stage before the screening to sing “Could We Start Again Please?”

But, in truth, the British model of reopening the theater, underpinned by a $ 2 billion government bailout and significant technological innovation inside theaters, and the South Korean example, facilitated by a country capable of unite to quickly curb the pandemic, could this be a practical roadmap for Broadway’s comeback?

Cannold says there is a lot to learn.

In the 17 months that the Korean theater industry lasted during the pandemic, there have been no incidents of public-to-public transmission of COVID, ”she said. “To me that tells us everything we need to know about it being safe to enter the theater. There have been massive epidemics in Korea due to nightclubs, churches, schools, etc. None for theaters.

“That’s what this movie is about,” she continued. “To say, now that many of us are vaccinated and there are protocols in place, it’s time to come back and make sure this industry survives.”