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Mrs. Doubtfire is pushing its experimental Broadway return by a month.
On Friday, producer Kevin McCollum announced that the musical comedy based on the 1993 film starring Robin Williams would be coming back to the Great White Way a month later than its originally scheduled March 15 curtain up. On Jan. 10, the show — which initially opened on Dec. 5 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre — began a nine-week hiatus prompted by the omicron variant wave that hit Broadway.
Speaking toThe New York Times, McCollum explained that the decision to close the production temporarily was based partly on the decrease in COVID-19 cases across New York City — something that prompted Gov. Kathy Hochul to drop the state’s indoor mask mandate starting Feb. 8. (The Broadway League renewed its audience masking requirement, as well as its vaccine mandate, for all 41 Broadway theaters through April 30.)
“The good news is that it looks like the virus is calming down, but there are still a lot of unknowns,” McCollum told the Times. “It was just clear that April was a better time to open, given the trends with tourism, and thinking about when families and groups will start to feel comfortable.”
The show’s cast, crew and musicians have been out of work since the hiatus began, but McCollum told the outlet that he had already invited the entire cast to return. It was initially reported that 115 members of the show’s larger company would lose their jobs until the show returned.
“I am beyond grateful the support of the extraordinary cast, crew, orchestra and creative team, along with the Roundabout Theatre Company, operators of the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, who really want the show to be back and running, delighting audiences from around the world,” he said in a statement.
The musical and play To Kill A Mockingbird are two productions that took what is described as a hiatus during the omicron wave and some of Broadway’s historically slower months. Girl From the North Country, which closed on Jan. 23 and is based on the music of Bob Dylan, announced it was considering a potential spring return as well.
In a historically unprecedented season, Mrs. Doubtfire’s maneuver to keep the show and its jobs on Broadway has been described as a hiatus. But it was an official closing, according to Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin.
“These situations are definitely closings as they are provided for in our labor agreements,” St. Martin told BroadwayWorld in January. “Of course, we know that these were difficult decisions by our shows, and these are difficult times for everyone.”
The closing and reopening effort has resulted in public and private disagreements between Broadway’s various unions, producers and The League over whether shows are subverting established provisions in union contracts around closings, reopenings and production pauses, union members’ pay during these breaks, re-employment guarantees and health insurance accrual.
Mrs. Doubtfire opened on Dec. 5, right as the omicron variant hit the Great White Way. Throughout the month, a historically lucrative time for Broadway, numerous productions canceled strings of performances, including the Kevin McCollum show, with others forced into early and permanent closure. However, Broadway in its entirety remained open.
“The first few months of a brand new Broadway show are an extraordinarily delicate and important period of time. With the pervasiveness of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Mrs. Doubtfire would have to close permanently if the production didn’t take drastic, pro-active measures,” McCollum said at the time.
“Out of concern for the potential long-term employment of everyone who works on Mrs. Doubtfire, and the extended run of the show, we have decided that following the January 9 performance, the production will close for nine weeks, returning on March 15,” he continued. “Mrs. Doubtfire has been in development for six years. We are doing everything in our power to keep the virus from prematurely ending our run on Broadway. By taking this break, we can afford to launch an extended run starting in March.”
Before its pandemic debut on Broadway last December, the production was among the shows that had begun right before the pandemic shutdown Broadway on March 12, 2020. Mrs. Doubtfire was in preview performances at the time.
The musical comedy is directed by Tony-winning director Jerry Zaks. It features a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell and music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick.
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