Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical, part of the Pantages-Dolby Theatre Broadway in Hollywood lineup, as of Wednesday night had still been scheduled to begin performances Thursday. Now the production has initiated refunds for ticket holders of 21 scrapped performances and is encouraging patrons to rebook seats for a later date in the run, which ends Nov. 22.
The suspension is “in support of the well-being of the theater-going public as well as those who work on the production, subject to ongoing assessment by county or state health authorities,” said the statement. “We take the health and safety of our patrons, staff and community seriously and urge everyone to continue to follow the guidelines set forth by public health officials.”
This eight-month engagement of “Hamilton” — which has won Tony, Grammy and Olivier Awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama and an unprecedented special citation from the Kennedy Center Honors — is the show’s second stay in L.A., after a four-and-a-half-month run in 2017.
Jamael Westman and Nicholas Christopher — alumni of other “Hamilton” productions around the world — lead this production as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, respectively. Rubén J. Carbajal, Joanna A. Jones, Taylor Iman Jones, Carvens Lissaint, Simon Longnight, Rory O’Malley, Sabrina Sloan and Wallace Smith are also among the principal cast.
The suspension followed California officials’ overnight recommendation to cancel all gatherings with 250 or more people through March. The California Department of Public Health issued a request for the residents to adopt social-distancing measures.
In the Northern California, BroadwaySF canceled performances of its productions, including “Hamilton” and “The Last Ship,” through March 25. The move came in response to a San Francisco-wide mandate prohibiting large gatherings of 1,000 or more people.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” performances will continue as scheduled but to a capped audience of 1,000 for at least two weeks. The Curran Theatre, home of “Harry Potter,” has a capacity of 1,667, and the venue said it will contact patrons to seek voluntarily exchange tickets for performances with more than 1,000 ticket holders.
Cancellations began throughout the region on Wednesday. The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills said that it will pause shows through the end of the month, and the Independent Shakespeare Company will move its “Macbeth” to the fall. The Geffen Playhouse in Westwood also said Wednesday it will not be moving forward with “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” which was scheduled to begin previews April 7.
Center Theatre Group — which runs shows at the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre — emailed patrons on Thursday to say all upcoming performances of “The Book of Mormon,” “The Antipodes” and “Block Party” had been canceled.
The move also echoes that of Broadway, which has closed all shows through April 12 after an usher tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s a blow to the industry, especially as 16 high-profile plays and musicals were set to open between Thursday and April 27, the eligibility cutoff date for the Tony Awards.
Several productions’ openings have been canceled, leaving producers to strategize whether to open in the fall or scrap their run altogether. “The Phantom of the Opera,” Broadway’s longest-running show and tourist magnet, may close for good, according to the New York Post.
“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theater industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” read the statement from Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.
“Broadway has the power to inspire, enrich and entertain, and together we are committed to making that vital spirit a reality. Once our stages are lit again, we will welcome fans back with open arms so that they can continue to experience the joy, heart, and goodwill that our shows so passionately express every night.”