Faced with the specter of empty seats, producer Scott Rudin cut the price to $50 on all remaining seats at The Book of Mormon, The Lehman Trilogy, To Kill a Mockingbird, West Side Story, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? from March 1 -29. Other bargains, including two-for-one specials, were being discussed at other shows.

The question that remains within the theater world is what now? With Broadway houses forced to shutter, as some cultural institutions and sporting venues have in other countries, could simulcasting or digital streaming, the technology used for BroadwayHD, be a viable option for reaching audiences?

Theater owners declined to respond to a request for comment, deferring to St. Martin. “We have not really discussed that as an alternative,” she says. “Our union contracts are so prohibitive. I’d never rule out any possibility. But it would require a lot of negotiations with the unions for actors and musicians. And union discussions aren’t quick.”

“The coronavirus is a big thing,” says St. Martin, who recalls when Broadway theaters briefly went dark after Sept. 11 and Hurricane Sandy. “But we’ve endured and survived every big thing.”

Still, union hurdles and high costs are only one obstacle, she says. “Many of our seasoned producers have concerns about livestreaming because they believe that part of the magic of theater is seeing it in a theater.”

Six’s McCollum, who also produced such hits as Rent and In the Heights, and additionally has Mrs. Doubtfire in previews, says livestreaming “is never a substitute, even when there’s no virus. I talk only for my shows. It’s not an alternative; it’s an additive.”

Sue Frost, producer of Come From Away, concurs. “I don’t look at streaming as an alternative,” she says. “That’s not what Broadway is.”

She calls Cuomo’s announcement “the wisest decision.”

“There is a great deal of concern about assembling in large groups. It’s the responsible thing to do, and Broadway is being responsible,” says continues. Asked about financial toll, Frost was cautiously optimistic. “We’re a longer-running show with a brand and an advance and that will help ride it out,” she said. “Each show has its own situation.”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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