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Latest COVID surge hits Broadway during the lucrative holiday season

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Some of the lights on Broadway are dimming again because of the rise in COVID cases. While most shows are maintaining a regular schedule, eight popular musicals and plays have announced they are taking a hiatus until after Christmas. And one more show, "Jagged Little Pill," is closing.

Jeff Lunden reports.

JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: Christmas week is traditionally one of the most lucrative times for Broadway shows. But audiences won't be able to attend some of its biggest musicals.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY SHOT")

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: (As Alexander Hamilton, rapping) I am not throwin' away my shot. I am not throwin' away my shot.

LUNDEN: Despite full vaccination and rigorous safety protocols, enough members of the "Hamilton" company tested positive for COVID that the show won't return until after Christmas. And it's not alone. "Hadestown," "Ain't Too Proud," "Dear Evan Hansen," "Aladdin," "Harry Potter," "Six," "The Lion King" and "MJ," the new Michael Jackson show, are all taking the week off because of breakthrough infections. A couple of other shows skipped performances early in the week. And on Monday evening, "Jagged Little Pill," which had suspended performances, announced it wouldn't reopen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU OUGHTA KNOW")

ALANIS MORISSETTE: (Singing) You, you, you oughta know.

LUNDEN: While the show had won two Tony Awards, the producers cited the rise of the omicron variant and an uncertain winter box office in making their decision. A new play, "Skeleton Crew," postponed its previews and opening night. The bottom line for all these canceled shows is a total loss of income for missed performances. There is no insurance safety net. On the other hand, a revival of "The Music Man," starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, began sold-out previews on Monday evening.

For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden in New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEREDITH WILLSON SONG, "SEVENTY-SIX TROMBONES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.

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