When the Straz Center for the Performing Arts released its 2020-2021 Broadway season back in February, the announcement brought the news that smash musicals Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen would return.
But then the coronavirus forced theaters everywhere to close, including Tampa’s performing arts center, which closed on March 13, during the tail end of their 2019-2020 season.
Straz CEO Judy Lisi said it was hard to figure out how many shows would be affected from that season, but realized when one after another had to be canceled that they wouldn’t reopen again until late 2020 or early 2021.
That means the 2020-2021 Broadway season, which would typically start in October, has now been pushed back until February 2021.
It’s no easy feat to rebook Broadway shows, Lisi said. The productions have to be able to travel to their next location in eight hours, so the theater has to fit in logistically with other stops on the tour.
But they were able to pin down a few, although Lisi emphasized that because of the coronavirus, these dates could change as well.
“So much depends on the virus and what we’re going to be able to do in terms of a vaccine or better testing or contact tracing,” she said. “The biggest thing we have to do is make sure that we can provide the highest level of safety and health protocols.”
She said that if certain protocols aren’t in place in six months, they will keep pushing the dates back. They will also consider holding smaller shows in larger theaters and plan to make use of their outdoor Riverwalk stage.
Broadway performances make up 65 percent of the Straz’s revenue and is the main draw that brings people back to the center, she said.
Lisi made a personal announcement about the new dates to the Straz season ticket holders, whom she considers “family.”
Another reason she hopes they can open as soon as possible: They had to furlough three quarters of their employees and she wants to be able to bring them back.
Here are the planned performances and dates:
Dec. 22-27: My Fair Lady (rescheduled from 2019-2020 season)
Jan. 13-31, 2021: Wicked
Feb. 16-April 4, 2021: Shout the Mod Musical, the 2020 run of which was cut short when the center closed in March, will replace Shear Madness on the Broadway series. It will be presented in the Jaeb Theater.
March 23-28, 2021: Dear Evan Hansen
June 1-27, 2021: Hamilton
July 13-18, 2021: Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (rescheduled from the 2019-2020 season)