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In a further move toward returning the U.S.’s largest city to pre-pandemic normality, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says tickets to Broadway shows will go on sale Thursday for performances beginning on Sept. 14.

Cuomo made the announcement on Wednesday amid other changes, including the city’s Major League Baseball teams, the Yankees and the Mets, giving free tickets to fans who get vaccinated for the coronavirus at their ballparks before games.

But news of Broadway’s reopening stood out. When the original closure was announced on March 12, 2020 — which was only scheduled to last 32 days — industry watchers saw it as a troubling sign of the seriousness of the pandemic.

Even before it was extended, the 32-day closure was the longest shutdown in the history of Broadway.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, operations only ceased for a few days. The longest stretches when theatres went dark previously were due to strikes in 1918 and 1975 — both of which lasted less than a month. Shows continued to run during the 1918-1919 flu pandemic.

Heartbeat of the city

When the 2020 closure was announced, the New York Times called the theatre district a “symbol of New York resilience,” and quoted Tony Award-winning actor Patti LuPone saying it was shocking that the “heartbeat of the city” had been “forced into darkness.”

“Broadway is major part of our state’s identity and economy,” Cuomo wrote in a tweet on Wednesday, “and we are thrilled that the curtains will rise again.”

Cuomo first spoke of Broadway reopening in an address on Monday, when he included it among restrictions for restaurants, bars, shops, salons and amusement parks scheduled to be lifted on May 19. 

At the time, he said Broadway would be able to resume shows on the same date, but the Broadway League, the trade association representing the 41 theatres, said a fall reopening would be more likely.

The organization confirmed tickets would go on sale at on May 6, though was careful to note that plans could still change. 

“We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo clearly recognizes the impact of Broadway’s return on the city and state’s economy and the complexity of restarting an entire industry that has been dormant for over a year,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, was quoted as saying in a news release. 

“We remain cautiously optimistic about Broadway’s ability to resume performances this fall and are happy that fans can start buying tickets again.”

Customers are informed of Broadway’s closure at the Minskoff Theatre on March 12, 2020, in New York City. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

When Broadway first closed, there were 31 plays and musicals running, including Hamilton, The Music Man with Hugh Jackman, and The Lion King. Eight more were scheduled to begin by mid-April. 

The Broadway that reopens will look different. In May, the big budget Disney musical Frozen decided not to reopen when Broadway theaters restart. Producers of Mean Girls also decided not to restart. The musical Wicked has since announced it will return for a summer tour in 2021.