Radio City Music Hall cancels its remaining Rockettes Christmas shows
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Radio City Music Hall cancels its remaining Rockettes Christmas shows
The Rockettes in the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular," at Radio City Music Hall in New York, Nov. 20, 2015. Krista Schlueter/The New York Times.

by Matt Stevens and Michael Paulson

NEW YORK, NY.- After canceling all four of Friday’s performances of Radio City Music Hall’s enduring Christmas show starring the Rockettes after there were breakthrough coronavirus cases in the company, the show’s producers announced late Friday that they would end its run entirely because of “increasing challenges from the pandemic.”

The show, “Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes,” had been scheduled to run through Jan. 2 with multiple performances each day. But it did not make it to Christmas, or even to the vacation many city schoolchildren will begin next week.

It became the latest show to be upended by a rash of coronavirus cases among cast and crew members, as the virus has surged in recent days in New York.

Earlier Friday, producers had canceled the four performances scheduled for the day because of what the company described as “breakthrough COVID-19 cases in the production.” By the end of the day, they had canceled the rest of the run.

“We regret that we are unable to continue the ‘Christmas Spectacular’ this season,” the show said in a statement released later in the day. “We had hoped we could make it through the season and are honored to have hosted hundreds of thousands of fans at more than 100 shows over the last seven weeks.”

The decision comes as Broadway has had to endure a raft of cancellations unlike any in its history. Seven of the 32 shows currently running on Broadway cited COVID as they canceled performances Friday night: “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Hadestown,” “Hamilton,” “MJ,” “Moulin Rouge!,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Tina.” The projected lengths of the stoppages varied; some hoped to be back in a day or two, but “MJ,” a Michael Jackson musical still in previews, said it would not resume performances until Dec. 27.

And an eighth show, a revival of “Company,” was stopped 10 minutes after it began when a cast member fell ill Friday night; a spokesman said the episode was not COVID-related. Because there was no understudy in the building, that performance was canceled, too.

The cancellations are affecting a variety of shows elsewhere in New York and around the country. At New York City Center, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater canceled all of its remaining performances this week, citing positive coronavirus tests, while off-Broadway, the Red Bull Theater canceled its remaining performances of “The Alchemist” and Soho Rep canceled the rest of its performances of “While You Were Partying.”

In Los Angeles, the Center Theater Group canceled several performances of its production of “A Christmas Carol,” while in Chicago, several shows canceled performances, including a touring production of “Pretty Woman.”

In a sign of the increasing level of concern over the omicron variant, the Metropolitan Opera on Wednesday became the first major performing arts institution in New York to unveil a booster mandate: Beginning Jan. 17, all employees and audience members eligible for booster shots will be required to show proof that they have received them in order to enter the opera house.

At Radio City, company members said that at least some of people on site received word of the first set of cancellations over a public-address system shortly before the scheduled 11 a.m. performance.

Some company members have for several weeks expressed concern about the COVID-19 protocols in place for workers. All the employees for the “Christmas Spectacular” must be vaccinated. But the theater had not required employees to be tested for the virus. And under the Music Hall’s policy, masks were recommended but not required for artists, cast and crew members. And not all audience members were required to wear masks, as they are at all Broadway shows.

The Madison Square Garden Entertainment company, which produces the show and owns the theater, has said the protocols it has had in place were completely safe, and that they were developed in conjunction with health and safety experts, and have been used successfully at a roster of shows in the venue since late summer.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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