Roundabout Announces Dates for ‘Trouble,’ Etc.
By: David Sheward
June 29, 2020: It’s official. No Broadway for the rest of 2020. The Broadway League has announced all productions will remain shuttered through at least Jan. 3, 2021. Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters were all closed on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In an official press release, the League states, “Some of the logistics being currently reviewed for audience members and employees include: screening and testing, cleaning and sanitizing, wayfinding inside theatres, backstage protocols, and much more.” There is no mention of social distancing or reduced seating. Producer Scott Rudin and League President Charlotte St. Martin have both stated in previous interviews, social distancing will not work with the Broadway economic model. In other words, reduced seating capacity would not be profitable enough for the producers. The press release goes one to state “Returning productions are currently projected to resume performances over a series of rolling dates in early 2021. Tickets for performances for next winter and spring are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks.” Whether the theatergoing public will feel safe enough to return to New York theater without a vaccine to protect them remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the floodgates of Broadway announcements have been opened. Last this week we had new spring 2021 dates for The Music Man, The Minutes and American Buffalo, all pushed back from earlier dates due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. Roundabout Theater Company has joined in with adjusted previews and premieres as well as new productions. The company will present the first Broadway production of Alice Childress’ comedy-drama Trouble in Mind, to be directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. The play which played Off-Broadway in 1955, is tailor-made for this moment as it deals with racism in the theater. The main character is a middle-aged African-American actress cast in a New York production of a drama about lynching in the South. She comes into conflict with the white director-producer over the validity of the script written by whites. Trouble is scheduled to play the American Airlines Theater in the winter of 2021-22. In the wake of nationwide protests against police violence against minorities, many artists of color have been sharing their experience of racism in the theater and calling for change.
Roundabout has pushed back additional productions originally scheduled for 2020. The revival of Caroline or Change (which explores similar themes to Trouble in Mind) with Sharon D. Clarke, is now slated for the spring of 2021 at Studio 54. The gender-inclusive restaging of 1776, to be directed by Diane Paulus, will also open next spring, but at the American Airlines. Birthday Candles, to star Debra Messing, will now open in the fall of 2021. Paulus was the subject of accusations of racism in a video posted on social media by actor-writer Griffin Matthews with whom she collaborated on the musical Witness Uganda, later retitled Invisible Thread. Paulus responded with an apology, promising to “do better” in the future.
Roundabout’s Off-Broadway production ...what the end will be by Kireh Breon Holder opens at the Laura Pels Theater in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theater and Exception to the Rule by Dave Harris will also open at the Steinberg Center. Both shows open in spring 2021.
Tentative Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule for 2021-22
March 15–The Minutes (Cort) (previews March 1)
April 13–Plaza Suite (Hudson) (previews March 19)
April 14–American Buffalo (Circle in the Square) (previews March 22)
April 15–MJ (Neil Simon) (previews March 8)
May 20–The Music Man (Winter Garden) (previews April 7)
Spring 2021–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
1776 (Roundabout/American Airlines)
Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)
…what the end will be (Roundabout/Laura Pels)
Exception to the Rule (Roundabout/Steinberg Center)
Fall 2021–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/American Airlines)
Winter 2021-22–Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/American Airlines)
Future–Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train
Unopened Productions from 2019-20 with no new dates yet
The Lehman Trilogy
How I Learned to Drive
Take Me Out