UPDATE: Broadway’s upcoming production of Jordan E. Cooper’s Ain’t No Mo’ is the latest New York staging hit by Covid: The comedy has delayed its first week of previews due to Covid within the company, moving the first performance at the Belasco Theatre November 3 to November 9.
The official opening is Thursday, December 1.
The play, which blends sketch comedy, satire and avant garde theater as it asks the incendiary question, “What if the U.S. government attempted to solve racism … by offering Black Americans one-way plane tickets to Africa?” stars Cooper, Crystal Lucas-Perry, Fedna Jacquet, Marchánt Davis, Shannon Matesky and Ebony Marshall-Oliver, and is produced by Lee Daniels.
PREVIOUS, Oct. 20: Covid isn’t done with New York’s theater scene just yet. At least four Broadway and major Off Broadway productions have either canceled or postponed performances or temporarily replaced principal cast members in the last week due to the virus.
Today, Lincoln Center Theater postponed the opening of its upcoming Off Broadway production of Sarah Ruhl’s new play Becky Nurse of Salem due to “a significant disruption in the rehearsal process” caused by a Covid case within the company. The play, directed by Rebecca Taichman and starring Tony winner Deirdre O’Connell (Dana H.) in the title role, was to have started previews this week ahead of a Nov. 21 opening; the production at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater will now begin previews Tuesday, November 8, and open on Sunday, December 4.
Also postponing its opening night was the Public Theater’s production of A Raisin in the Sun, director Robert O’Hara’s new staging of the Lorraine Hansberry classic with a cast that includes Francois Battiste and Tonya Pinkins. After canceling performances last weekend due to Covid, the Public moved opening night from Oct. 19 to Oct. 25 and extended the run by a week to Nov. 13.
Earlier this week, the new Broadway musical Almost Famous canceled its Tuesday evening performance due to Covid (the production resumed on Wednesday), and last weekend Danielle Brooks, who stars in Broadway’s The Piano Lesson with Samuel L. Jackson and John David Washington, announced that she’d be out of the show until Oct. 23. “Yes,” she wrote on Instagram, “the Covid Monster got me.” (The role of Berniece is being played by understudy Shirine Babb).
Citywide Covid rates were falling steadily throughout the summer but the decline has more recently leveled off (at roughly 2000 new cases a day) or, in some neighborhoods, even increased. NBC’s New York affiliate WNBC reported this week that Covid positivity rates are back above 20% in parts of Manhattan, most significantly in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood near the Times Square theater district. The CDC estimates that the newly identified Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 could account for as many as 37% of new cases in New York City.
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