It’s been nearly a year since the Paramount Theatre went dark, but is that a lightbulb flickering to life on the marquee? Seattle Theatre Group (which operates the Paramount) and Broadway at the Paramount have announced new dates for the 2021-22 season, including six weeks of musical juggernaut “Hamilton.”
The season is scheduled to kick off Oct. 19 with “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and largely replicates the lineup originally envisioned for the 2020-21 season. “Hamilton,” originally scheduled to start a May run this year, has been rescheduled to start in August 2022.
“I do think that this announcement does express optimism and hope, and I think that is a really important role for the arts and an organization like Seattle Theatre Group to play,” said Josh LaBelle, executive director of STG, which also operates the Moore and Neptune theaters. “[We want to] find a place where we can put a stake in the ground that is somewhat of a balance between hopeful and realistic. I think that starting Broadway touring towards the end of October strikes that balance.”
The scheduling is a “heavily researched and calculated move,” with producer Broadway Across America coordinating dates with dozens of venues in cities across the country, LaBelle said. Other venues in places like Miami and Kansas City have recently announced their own fall Broadway Across America dates, beginning in September.
For now, STG’s theaters, including the Paramount, Moore and Neptune, won’t be hosting live events, even though Phase 2 of the state’s recovery plan allows indoor entertainment establishments in King County to open at 25% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. But there is interest in reopening in a limited capacity, LaBelle said.
“We are actively involved internally right now in trying to find a way and analyzing if we can, in fact, reopen safely at some point in the near future along the governor’s guidelines,” he said. “[We’d like to] turn our attention to the local artist community, who have been out of work for a long, long time. We take this responsibility really seriously. We take the health of patrons and our staff really seriously.”
The implicit requirement around the arts returning at full strength is more vaccinations, and LaBelle wonders if arts organizations can play a part. Perhaps, when more groups are eligible, Gov. Jay Inslee could mandate proof of vaccination to access a cultural venue, thereby increasing vaccination rates, LaBelle said.
But whatever the future of theatergoing looks like, he’s bullish.
“[This] is some of the most realistic hope we’ve been able to put up on the menu in quite some time,” he said. “I believe that government and the arts are working really closely together, and we’re going to create an environment that’s safe for artists and safe for patrons. We’re going to get this done. You watch.”
Current subscribers to Broadway at the Paramount will have their tickets automatically moved to the new dates. New subscriptions are available for purchase now at STGPresents.org/Broadway. Single tickets will go on sale later.
In addition to “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Oct. 19-24) and “Hamilton” (Aug. 3-Sept. 11, 2022), other shows in the Broadway at the Paramount lineup include: “Mean Girls” (Nov. 16-21); “Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady” (Dec. 28, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022), directed by former Intiman Theatre artistic director Bartlett Sher; “The Band’s Visit” (March 8-13, 2022), winner of 10 Tonys including best musical; “Pretty Woman: The Musical” (June 7-12, 2022); and optional add-on “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” (April 8-10, 2022).