“It Felt Like Something Died”



"The economics and politics that we’re dealing with right now are people in office who continually dismiss the arts, which is an industry that’s bigger than the airline industry."

An Oral History of the Longest-Ever Broadway Shutdown

The Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City on Jan. 4.

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An Oral History of the Longest-Ever Broadway Shutdown


The cast and crew of Hadestown recall the night Broadway shut down—and consider what it will take to eventually reopen.




The understudy just hours away from stepping into the spotlight. The 74-year-old star still celebrating his first Tony Award win. The usher who greets hundreds of audience members before the curtain even rises.

On March 12, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered Broadway to shut down due to the coronavirus, closing 31 plays and musicals—and upending the lives and livelihoods of the more than 96,000 people whose jobs rely on the industry. That number includes the cast and crew of the 2019 Best Musical Hadestown, who would bring the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone to life each night at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

They used to play for packed houses eight times a week. Now they’re just doing all they can to get through this pandemic. Slate spoke to 10 people who help make Hadestown to tell the story of the day it all came to a halt, how their lives have changed, and what it will take to safely bring theater back to the Theater District.

Before the shutdown announcement on March 12, a Thursday, Hadestown’s cast and crew weren’t sure whether it would ever come.



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