Waitress, the musical based on the 2007 film starring Keri Russell, and Keenan Scott II’s historic play Thoughts of a Colored Man, have ended their Broadway runs.
The producer for both shows shared statements Thursday, just a day ahead of Christmas Eve, announcing their respective closings. Waitress and Thoughts of a Colored Man now join Tony-winning Jagged Little Pill and family comedy Chicken & Biscuits as productions that have ended their runs this fall due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Numerous other productions including Hamilton, Hadestown and The Lion King have also canceled shows through Christmas due to a surge in COVID cases across the city and New York state.
In a statement posted to Waitress‘ official Twitter, the closing was attributed “to positive cases of COVID detected in the company and crew at the Barrymore Theatre.” The show is ending its run after being scheduled for performances through Jan. 9, 2022, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The Tony-nominated show had a recent string of COVID-related performance cancellations alongside several other productions beginning the week of Dec. 13.
It initially reopened on Broadway Sept. 2, 2021, after closing on Jan. 5, 2020 — just two months ahead of the Broadway-wide shut down and after a four-year run that began in 2016.
A separate statement from lead producer Barry Weissler, on behalf of himself and co-producer and wife Fran Weissler, celebrated the show’s “brilliant creative team” and a company that includes “the greatest actors, musicians and other company members working in the theater today, whose dogged commitment has kept the show as fresh as the day we opened.”
“It has been such an honor to bring Waitress to Broadway. We feel so blessed to have been able to continue playing when Broadway returned in September of this year. We are heartbroken that the COVID virus won’t allow us to finish our glorious scheduled run,” Weissler said in his statement. “Watching Sara Bareilles take her innate skills as a brilliant pop singer/songwriter to also become a natural Broadway composer/lyricist has been especially rewarding to observe.”
Bareilles took to Twitter following the announcement, expressing what a “gut punch” the closing is. “Thank you for everything. This cast. This company. This community. May we all be so lucky. Forever I love you,” she tweeted.
This is a gut punch of the highest degree. Thank you for everything. This cast. This company. This community. May we all be so lucky. Forever I love you. ❤️ https://t.co/eCzOUSxgjC
— Sara Bareilles (@SaraBareilles) December 24, 2021
During the show’s final weeks, it also made its own history, with five of Waitress‘ leading roles played by Black actors. That includes Ciara Renée as Jenna, Joshua Henry as Dr. Pomatter, Maiesha McQueen as Becky, Ashley Blanchet as Dawn and Tyrone Davis, Jr. as Ogie.
Thoughts of a Colored Man announced its closure the same day, also citing COVID breakthrough cases within the company that ahead of its cancellation saw its actor-turned-playwright, Scott, take the stage on Tuesday night alongside several understudies to fill in for cast members that were out due to positive COVID tests.
“We have tried our hardest to safely navigate the current, unfortunate health crisis, but ultimately we are unable to continue under the unfortunate conditions of Covid exposure in the city and country,” according to a statement on the show’s Instagram.
The first-ever Broadway production to be written, directed by, starring and lead produced by Black men, the Steve H. Broadnax III directed play follows seven Black men through a single day in Brooklyn in a show that blends spoken word, slam poetry, rhythm and humor.
Thoughts of a Colored Man was among this year’s historic season of shows from Black playwrights, which lead producers Brian Moreland, Ron Simons, Diana DiMenna, Kandi Burruss, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Samira Wiley acknowledged in their statement on the show’s closing.
“While this is not the outcome we had hoped for, being part of this historic season on Broadway has been the greatest privilege of our lives. The theatre industry’s great return is about so much more than the success or failure of any single production,” the statement reads. “As a community, we remain undeterred, unflinching and unstoppable. We have never been prouder to be theatre-makers than at this very moment.”
Dec. 22 marks the play’s final performance after opening on Oct. 13 at the John Golden Theatre. The show’s current cast included Dyllón Burnside, Forrest McClendon, Luke James, Bryan Terrell Clark, Da’Vinchi, Esau Pritchett and Tristan Mack Wilds.