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Positive coronavirus cases halt 'Aladdin' a day after it reopened
A musical number in "Aladdin," at the Amsterdam Theater in New York, Feb. 23, 2014. On Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, “Aladdin” held its first performance since Broadway closed for the pandemic — on Wednesday, the show was canceled because of several positive coronavirus tests. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Michael Paulson

NEW YORK, NY.- On Tuesday, “Aladdin” held its first performance since Broadway closed for the pandemic. On Wednesday, the show was canceled because of several positive coronavirus tests.

Disney Theatrical Productions announced the cancellation just a half-hour before curtain, saying “through our rigorous testing protocols, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been detected within the company of ‘Aladdin’ at the New Amsterdam Theater.”

Disney said it was refunding purchased tickets, and did not yet know whether or how future performances might be affected.

“We will continue to provide support to the affected ‘Aladdin’ company members as they recover,” the company said in a statement.

The cancellation is the first missed performance of a Broadway show for COVID-related reasons since theaters started reopening in late June.

But there have been missed shows off-Broadway — Second Stage canceled several performances of Rajiv Joseph’s “Letters of Suresh,” citing “an exposure of COVID-19,” and then postponed that play’s opening after resuming performances with an understudy. And in Atlanta, a touring production of “Hamilton” had to cancel a performance because of positive coronavirus tests.

All Broadway companies — cast and crew — are required to be fully vaccinated, as are all Broadway audiences. When breakthrough cases occur, some productions have been able to keep going with a combination of backstage testing and understudies. For example, “Waitress” had a positive test in its cast before its first performance, but was able to use testing to determine that the rest of the cast was OK, and then to keep going with an understudy.

“Aladdin” had been dealing with coronavirus complications in the run-up to its reopening performance. The raucous first night performance, with an audience that included Kristin Chenoweth and the show’s composer, Alan Menken, and librettist, Chad Beguelin, featured three understudies. The crowd didn’t seem to mind — “Friend Like Me,” the Genie’s big production number, brought the audience to its feet. Michael James Scott, the actor playing the Genie, stood to the side of the stage, breathing heavily, before shouting to the audience, by way of explanation, “18 months, people! 18 months!”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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