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COVID-19

Is social distancing possible on Broadway? A discussion with Eva Price

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 26, 2020
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The Palace Theatre on the opening night of "West Side Story" in 2009. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
COVID-19

Is social distancing possible on Broadway? A discussion with Eva Price

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 26, 2020
Heard on:
The Palace Theatre on the opening night of "West Side Story" in 2009. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Earlier this month, the Broadway League announced all shows will be on hold until at least September. All productions have been shut down since mid-March, and some, including Disney’s “Frozen” musical, have said they are closing permanently.

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Tony-winning producer Eva Price about the future of Broadway and leading “Jagged Little Pill” through this pandemic-induced time of uncertainty. She talks to her cast and crew weekly.

“We just talk about our week and try and just distract and connect about anything other than the fact that we’re not performing eight times a week,” Price said. “When we get into that, it’s really depressing and sad, and more depressing and sad is when we get into the question of when we’re coming back.”

Price isn’t sure when Broadway will reopen but suspects it will be at least a few more months, given all the hurdles facing the industry.

“It’s the antithesis of who we are,” Price said. “There’s no social distance for a love scene or a dance scene or a duet.”

She said knowing that “Jagged Little Pill,” based on the Alanis Morissette album, will eventually reopen is what helps her sleep at night. “The things that wake me up is the how,” she said. “How much money will it cost? How much time will it take? What will the restrictions be for our cast and audiences? I do think about it every corner of the day.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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