'Pass Over' to be first live Broadway show with an audience since pandemic

A woman walks past the Walter Kerr Theatre, Thursday, May 6, 2021, in New York where Hadestown was showing before the coronavirus pandemic forced its closing a year ago.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A play about young Black men trapped on a street corner has positioned itself as the first Broadway show audiences can watch live when the Great White Way restarts.

Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu's "Pass Over" will begin performances at the August Wilson Theatre on Aug. 4, several weeks before any other show. Riffing of "Waiting for Godot," the play is seemingly perfect for a post-COVID-19 Broadway: Just three actors and an intermission-less 85-minute running time. Producers said they will follow CDC and New York State protocols determined later this summer.

The play was first staged in 2017 in Chicago and was filmed by Spike Lee. It was most recently produced at Lincoln Center's off-Broadway theater in 2018 and that cast will make the leap to Broadway: Jon Michael Hill, Namir Smallwood and Gabriel Ebert. Danya Taymor will direct.

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Before "Pass Over," the reopening of the musical "Hadestown" was going to be the first show to welcome audiences on Broadway since the pandemic, setting a return date of Sept. 2. The first Broadway show to welcome a live audience is likely to get a lot of attention.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had said Broadway theaters could reopen Sept. 14 but producers "may make their own economic decision as to when they reopen." They also will be allowed to decide their own entry requirements, like whether people must prove they’ve been vaccinated to attend a show.

Approximately 12-14 shows will return in September with more in October and November. There will be no social distancing. 

"You can expect masks at least for a period of time and probably a different ingress-egress structure," said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League.

Broadway will need rehearsal time for actors and dancers while plans need to be worked out on how staff and audiences can safely return to the notoriously cramped venues around Times Square.

Theatergoers are encouraged to visit Broadway.org for updated information about showtimes and performances as they are announced.

Broadway shows were suspended on March 12, 2020. The League says there were 31 productions running at that time and eight new shows in preview. There were eight productions in rehearsals and preparing to open.

With the Associated Press