McCollum’s move, which will enable the production to stop paying salaries and most other expenses, is a novel Broadway response to the Omicron surge, but has a parallel in London, where Andrew Lloyd Webber has shuttered his new “Cinderella” musical for at least seven weeks. (It is expected to reopen in February. 9.)
“Mrs. Doubtfire,” like all Broadway shows, has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. The production, which was in development for years, was capitalised for $17million. It had only gotten through three preview performances in March 2020, when Broadway closed down. In October, previews resumed in October. It then opened in December, aided by a nearly $10,000,000 grant from the Small Business Administration.
The show opened to tepid reviews — and a pan in The New York Times — but sales were nonetheless promising, McCollum said, until the Omicron variant, which was detected in New York just days before the opening, caused a spike in coronavirus cases. (The Broadway League has stopped reporting show-by-show box office grosses, making it difficult to track a production’s ups and downs with any precision.)
As coronavirus cases spread among Broadway workers, “Mrs. Doubtfire” had to cancel 11 performances during the normally lucrative holiday season, continuing to pay workers while losing all box office revenue. McCollum explained that the show faced high cancellation rates due to safety concerns, confusion about what was open and difficulty complying the vaccination rules. (“Mrs. Doubtfire” is a family-friendly show, so it is particularly affected by the evolving vaccine mandates for children.)
“You’re asking me to plant a sapling in a hurricane,” McCollum said.
So long as “Mrs. Doubtfire” is open, its expenses are about $700,000 a week, whether or not performances actually take place, because employees are paid even if a performance is canceled. The increased testing has led to an increase in expenses, as well as additional costs for maintaining a show when staff members test positive.
Source: NY Times