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Broadway returns to the stage in Springfield

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 4:48 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Broadway theaters in New York City raised their curtains earlier this week. Soon major productions will return to Juanita K. Hammons Hall in Springfield.

“It’s so exciting to finally be back after a year-and-a-half of no Broadway, and virtually no entertainment of any kind,” said Juanita K. Hammons Hall Executive Director Keith Boaz.

The last show to grace the stage was ‘Waitress the Musical’ in February 2020. As pandemic restrictions changed, it became difficult to figure out what shows would tour in Springfield.

“We’ve been working on the 2021-2022 schedule for over a year,” said Boaz. “Show dates have changed multiple times, we thought we had the season locked in, and something would pop up. Unfortunately, some of the shows we were previously looking at aren’t going back out on the road because of the pandemic. We’ve had to change shows, we’ve had to change dates. It has been the most interesting thing we’ve ever done as far as trying to put a schedule together.”

The season will kick off with ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’ in December. Favorites like ‘Hairspray’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ will also be making a stop at the Hall. While many people think of performers when it comes to the entertainment industry, it takes a village of people to get a show on the road.

“Everything from stagehands to wardrobe, a whole slew of individuals behind the scenes behind the stage to make that happen,” said Boaz. “When those trucks pull up to our loading dock, someone’s got to get them unloaded and build sets for them. Lots of lots of individuals work concessionaires, parking attendants, security officers, ushers, ticket takers, box office attendants. I could go on and on about the number of people it takes to make a production happen.”

Most of these individuals have been out of work since the pandemic began.

“It’s been a long year-and-a-half,” said Kathy Glen with Crew Co. “Our people are gig workers, so they’re not full-time employees, but they depend on this industry to get by. They fell through the cracks on when it came to regular unemployment.”

Carpenters, hairdressers, and seamstresses are just a few of the jobs that are coming back with the theater.

“Everybody feels like they’re coming home because you don’t realize when you do this work, it’s not what you do for a living. It’s part of who you are,” said Glen.

Not only does the theater employ hundreds of people, but brings a significant amount of tourism dollars to the community.

“Anytime the entertainment show comes in, whether it’s here at the Hall or over at JQH Arena, the financial impact is very, very significant,” said Boaz. “Everything from restaurants, hotels, people go shopping to buy outfits before they come to the theater especially. There is a lot of financial impact for us locally.”

To see the complete Broadway lineup and for ticket information, click here.

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