It was one of the biggest and most anticipated reopenings of Broadway’s return.
A sense of elation pervaded the audience. The Tonys had declared on Sunday that Broadway was back after the pandemic closed the Great White Way 18 months ago. But the day after the opulent Disney spectacular Aladdin reopened, the show was canceled when several breakthrough cases of COVID-19 were detected among its cast.
“Through our rigorous testing protocols, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been detected within the company of Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theater,” Disney Theatrical Productions said in a notice nixing the show just a half-hour before the Wednesday night curtain call.
It’s the first show to close down because of the virus since Broadway’s big reopening.
The company said it would refund tickets and “continue to provide support to the affected Aladdin company members as they recover” while it determined the fate of future performances. Disney said it would make an announcement regarding Thursday’s performance that day, and it is unclear when or if the show will go on.
Evidence of coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the cast was visible even during the one-night-only engagement, with three understudies taking over for absent main players.
The show reopened at New Amsterdam with special guests in the audience including Kristin Chenoweth, the show’s composer, Alan Menken—who was given a standing ovation by the ecstatic audience—and librettist, Chad Beguelin. Those watching the show were particularly overjoyed to see Michael James Scott, who plays the Genie, and who referenced the pandemic as he put his all into singing and dancing up a storm. “Eighteen months!” he said, more than once out of breath, to applause.
Vaccinations are mandatory for audience, performers, and staff at Broadway theaters, and audience members must wear masks throughout the performance. Audiences must also show proof of ID. Roughly 30 shows are expected to reopen before the end of the year.
At Aladdin, once all relevant information has been shown, an usher stamps your hand with—what else—the insignia of a lamp.