Broadway and Proctors playing the waiting game

The seats inside Proctors in downtown Schenectady will remain empty for the foreseeable future. Inset: Philip Morris. (Gazette file photos).

The seats inside Proctors in downtown Schenectady will remain empty for the foreseeable future. Inset: Philip Morris. (Gazette file photos).

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, Entertainment

Around this time of year, Proctors subscribers are usually diving into a new Broadway season. This time, they’re waiting, along with the rest of the theater arts industry.

The Schenectady theater has been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. While a few of the shows in its 2019-2020 Broadway season were postponed or canceled, all of its fall 2020-2021 Broadway shows have been postponed.

“Live events have lots of complications above the fact that the theater’s not open yet,” said Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors, in an interview last month with The Gazette.

“The governor hasn’t opened them to protocols for backstage and the house and the need for full houses. These Broadway shows don’t work financially if there’s social distancing. Social distancing at Proctors would bring our capacity to around 300.”

Considering the theater has a capacity of more than 2,000, Morris said that it just isn’t viable to hold Broadway touring productions with only 300 people in the audience.

There’s also the question of when Broadway will open and when tours will go back on the road.

Broadway recently announced that it won’t be open until at least the end of May of 2021.

“This is a national distribution, supply-chain conversation so we, like all of our peers, are in constant communication with producers and agents around what people are thinking, and what’s the likelihood of something happening, which is why we didn’t announce dates,” Morris said.

With travel quarantining measures in place for many states, even if touring productions could perform, actors, crew members, directors, etc. would have to quarantine for two weeks, depending on their destinations.

Thus, the season schedule is still up in the air.

Morris said Proctors is asking subscribers to hold on to their subscriptions until officials have a better feel of what the schedule will look like.

“We’re 95 percent confident that we will deliver to our subscribers all the shows that they are interested in. We will, I mean, that’s our business. The question is when,” Morris said.

For ticket-holders such as Theresa Smith, the wait is worth it.

“At this point I’m just looking forward to [seeing] anything,” Smith said.

The Schenectady resident and longtime Proctors subscriber has seen many shows at the theater, and she’s missed the experience.

“I’m an essential worker, so I’m not somebody who’s been trapped in the house. I’m out, but still, it certainly is something that you miss. You miss the atmosphere of the theater, the people. It’s the show, too, the excitement, opening night. That whole experience,” Smith said.

Fellow subscriber Frank Ralbovsky has also been missing the shows.

“We’ve never been really disappointed by any of the Proctors shows. We’ve been surprised once or twice, but never disappointed,” Ralbovsky said.

He and his wife used to go to New York City to see shows, and for them it just makes sense to see productions closer to home. Buying a season subscription, which started at $196 for the 2019-2020 season, makes sense financially for them as well.

Subscribers have been understanding, considering the disruption in shows for this season and last, according to Morris. Proctors and Capital Repertory Theater, which is owned by Proctors and also has a subscription package, ran a few virtual forums this summer to answer questions and keep subscribers in the loop.

“ . . . It was more with sympathy and support than argumentative, because people get that what we don’t know we don’t know. We can’t do anything about it,” Morris said.

While Proctors is encouraging subscribers to keep their tickets or put money on an account for future shows, when asked whether or not Proctors will give refunds if requested, Morris said, “We will accommodate that.”

Smith said that she’s holding on to her subscription.

“I’m holding on to absolutely everything. Nothing’s been canceled. . . . Right now, I’m just in a holding pattern,” Smith said.

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