BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Shea's Buffalo and the Western New York community are anxious to get back to the theater, but it could still be a few more months before shows make their way to the stage.
Shea's President Michael Murphy spoke with the 7 Eyewitness News morning team to discuss the future of theater in Western New York and when Shea's may reopen.
"I think it will be sometime in the fall, when we find that health officials are able to give us the okay but also that the audiences are comfortable coming together," says Murphy.
Murphy also says the vaccination rate will play a part in when Shea's could reopen. Theatergoers will likely have to wear masks and cleaning protocols will be in place to keep visitors, staff, and performers all safe.
As for the shows that are coming back, Murphy confirms the hit musical 'Hamilton' will still be on the schedule. In fact, every show from the canceled season will still come to Buffalo, split between the rest of 2021 and 2022.
What's holding Shea's back from opening sooner, is capacity and economics. Murphy says shows require a somewhat full house on their tours to be able to pay for the production. That means Shea's would need to be able to allow 85 to 90 percent capacity to bring productions in. For comparison, right now arenas in New York are only allowed to operate at ten percent.
Shea's recently sent out a survey to past guests to learn about what would need to be done for the theater community to feel comfortable enough to return. Murphy says so far, the responses have been very positive, with the Western New York community eager to get back into the theater.