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A COVID outbreak forced Broadway's 'Aladdin' to cancel some shows

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Broadway is back, but the reopening after the pandemic shutdown has been a little rocky.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A WHOLE NEW WORLD")

ADAM JACOBS: (As Aladdin, singing) A whole new world.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's what happens in this new world. Last week, the musical "Aladdin" reopened, shut down, reopened again and shut down again after several vaccinated cast and crew members tested positive for COVID.

CHRISTEL MURDOCK: And so to go have your great opening night and then to not have a show is really depressing, (laughter) you know? It's like, oh, man. We got this far, and now this happened.

MARTIN: That's Christel Murdock, a wardrobe supervisor for "Aladdin." She calls the shutdown just a bump in the road and isn't worried about going back to work.

MURDOCK: We get tested every day. I reached out to a bunch of friends in other shows, and it's amazing that we have the resources, that I work for a company that has the ability to do that. So they are going above and beyond to keep us safe.

MARTIN: Nevertheless, the "Aladdin" shutdown got everyone's attention on Broadway.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BURN")

KRYSTAL JOY BROWN: (As Eliza, singing) Burning the letters that might have redeemed you.

INSKEEP: Krystal Joy Brown, who plays Eliza in "Hamilton," says the COVID outbreak on "Aladdin" was a reality check.

BROWN: This whole thing of us coming back to Broadway is extraordinarily fragile. And we can't just be out here, like, you know, connecting and holding each other and, you know, doing all the things that we wanted to do. Like, we're still very much so in a pandemic.

INSKEEP: Brown says that COVID has also changed the feeling of performances of "Hamilton."

BROWN: Performing to a theater of masked people - you can't really see their face, and you can't really, like, tell their expressions. Not being able to connect with the audience, like, that hurts my soul to have to be so separated from them in this way.

MARTIN: Riza Takahashi was in the original cast of "Mean Girls." The show went out of business during the shutdown, and she's been auditioning for a new job. She says "Aladdin's" problems could actually be good news for people like her looking for work.

RIZA TAKAHASHI: Are the producers are going to hire more actors who are ready to go on at any given time? We're not getting rid of COVID anytime soon. And I think we have to figure it out as we go.

INSKEEP: So "Aladdin" is scheduled to re-reopen on October 12.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A WHOLE NEW WORLD")

COURTNEY REED: (As Jasmine, singing) A whole new world.

JACOBS: (As Aladdin, singing) Don't you dare close your eyes.

REED: (As Jasmine, singing) A hundred thousand things to see.

JACOBS: (As Aladdin, singing) Hold your breath. It gets better.

REED: (As Jasmine, singing) I'm like a shooting star. I've come so far. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.