Coronavirus is driving one Broadway’s most prolific producers to drastically slash ticket prices for several big shows.
Starting at noon Thursday, Scott Rudin will reduce tickets to his shows to $50 a pop for performances through March 29.
The productions include Broadway newcomers “West Side Story,” director Sam Mendes’ “The Lehman Trilogy” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” starring Laurie Metcalf and Rupert Everett, as well as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and long-running Tony winner “The Book of Mormon,” which premiered in 2011.
“These are shows that are playing to fantastically healthy business,” Rudin told the Hollywood Reporter. “My partners and I want the buildings full — even, and especially, during this crisis — and this is the way to ensure it. I don’t want the actors looking into a sea of red velvet. Nobody wants that. I want no deadwood in these buildings — and my colleagues and I want to give people the chance to see these shows when they otherwise might not be able to afford tickets or to even get tickets.”
Although box office receipts for the week ending March 8 were actually 2% higher than the previous week — and attendance was up 4%, according to Forbes — the Hollywood Reporter says the move is a direct response to fears of further ticket cancellations as coronavirus spreads.
Just last week, theatergoers were encouraged to stay home if they have flu-like symptoms. The Broadway League also announced that they “significantly increased” cleaning and disinfecting theaters, both backstage and in public areas. The organization also said it is “closely monitoring” the situation.
“We invite patrons to make use of soap, paper towels and tissues available in all restrooms,” the Broadway League advised. “We remain vigilant, and we are prepared to make decisions based on current recommendations, as well as in response to changing conditions.”
Forbes also raised the question of how much impact Broadway could feel since, it reports, Broadway audiences are comprised of 70% out-of-town tourists — many of whom could be grappling with canceled flights.
“Any event that would drive people away from congregating in the area will be a disaster,” says Tom Viertel, producer of “The Band’s Visit,” “Angels in America” and “Hairspray.” “Broadway will absolutely be affected. How long it will be affected, and whether there’ll be empty theaters, who knows?”