NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The stage is set for Broadway‘s return.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the show will finally go back on for musicals like “Chicago.”READ MORE: 1 Year After Great White Way Went Dark, Pop-Up Performances Breathing New Life Into Broadway
“The shows open Sept. 14. The tickets go on sale tomorrow,” Cuomo said.
WATCH: Gov. Cuomo Announces Return Of Broadway At 100% Capacity
It was beyond welcome news for an industry that has been shut down for more than a year.
“I can’t even believe it, honestly,” Broadway star Javier Munoz said. “We were the first industry to close. We were the first to really feel that impact immediately. It’s more than our livelihood. It is our heart. It is who we are.”
The governor had few exact details on what reopening at 100% capacity would look like. He said he cannot mandate that all audience members be vaccinated, but added theaters themselves can.
“My option that I like is 100% vaccines. I think it would be a safer environment for people to go to. Now, is that feasible from a market point of view? I have no idea,” Cuomo said.
Watch Andrea Grymes’ report —
“I think a lot will depend upon what the conditions are for New York at that time,” said Charlotte St. Martin of The Broadway League.
Martin said rules and protocols are still being worked out, but one thing you definitely won’t see is social distancing.
“We just can’t afford the financial impact of having only 30% of our audience, which is why we’re looking out to September,” Martin said.
“The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running show on Broadway, was the first to announce an official reopening date. Performances will resume on Oct. 22 at the Majestic Theatre. Tickets go on sale Friday morning.
Broadway shows usually have about a year and a half to sell tickets before opening night. Now, production, sales and rehearsal are going to be condensed to just about five months, so it’s going to be a busy summer.
“We’ve never had a situation where so many shows are probably going to open in such a condensed time,” Broadway producer Kevin McCollum told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
McCollum currently has two shows preparing to reopen, the musicals “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Six.”
“Every piece of rehearsal space is basically taken. I told one of my directors we can do music work in my conference room,” he said.
Actor Nik Walker is getting ready to return to “Ain’t Too Proud.” He was just three weeks into the leading role last year when theaters shut down.READ MORE: Tony-Award Winning Actor Ben Vereen Hopeful About Bringing Broadway Back, Encourages Others To Get Vaccinated, ‘Let’s Get Our Country Back To Work’
“The first thing I do is start a very specific workout regimen because good lord,” he said.
Actors are just some of the 97,000 jobs that Broadway generates.
Broadway guardian Todd Montgomery typically works behind the scenes.
“We spend our whole lives looking for jobs and trying to get the next job, and now we’re like, OK, there is no job,” he said. “Literally today, I got excited again. And it’s gonna be September, October when I work again, but it’s exciting that there’s going to be work.”
Before the pandemic, almost 250,000 people were seeing Broadway shows every week. The industry contributes nearly $15 billion to New York City’s economy each year.
“So when Broadway’s back, New York is back,” McCollum said.
For casts, crews and fans, though, this is a homecoming.
“Broadway to me is not the lights, and it’s not even the theaters. It’s honestly, like, the fact that I can walk down Eighth Avenue between shows and see my buddy who’s doing ‘Lion King’ and see my other buddy who’s doing ‘Slave Play’ and we’re all just meeting up. That’s Broadway to me,” Walker said.
City officials and Times Square businesses are looking forward to the economic ripple effect Broadway’s reopening will have on the area.
“The city is not going to recover until Times Square recovers and Times Square won’t recover until Broadway is back at 100%,” said Tom Harris of the Times Square Alliance.
“I miss the music and the people and just the energy of being in a theater full of people cheering on the artists and the musicians,” one fan told CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock.
“You can’t go to New York City and not do Broadway,” another fan added.
One tourist from Florida said she’ll definitely be back to see a show.
“I come here every year, I bring the kids back, and I just miss being able to go to Broadway,” Kim Campo said. “I’m ready to buy tickets right now, and I couldn’t get them. So 100% I’m coming back… As soon as that opens, I’m booking my tickets.”
Not every show will go on sale Thursday. The Broadway League said depending on the production some will be able to get up and running in as little as two months, while others will need longer.MORE NEWS: Snapshot NY: Out-Of-Work Broadway Technician Finds Second Career As Artist Building Steampunk Lamps
CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock and Andrea Grymes contributed to this report