BALTIMORE — After more than 600 days, Broadway is returning to Baltimore.
The Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center has been empty since Wicked closed early 2020.
Despite curtains being closed, Ron Legler, President of the France Merrick Performing Arts Center says Baltimore did not give up on the Hippodrome.
“I think one of the most exciting things that's happened to us in this city is that Baltimore really put a commitment behind the building, we only lost 1% of our subscription base," said Legler. “They were just like, we're going to come back when you're ready and when you can do it safely, you let us know and we're here for you, which is absolutely incredible. It didn't happen that way across the country. But it did, it did here, and I'm thankful for it.”
The Hippodrome Theatre is welcoming fans back on November 6. The 2020-21 season, which was pushed back due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, includes Waitress, Tootsie, Pretty Woman, Hairspray, Mean Girls, and Hamilton.
There are new safety protocols in place, including mask and vaccine requirements.
“Our industry's taking this very seriously,” said Legler. “We put these measures in place to keep our audiences safe and to keep the actors safe. Everyone in our building is vaccinated. Everyone from the volunteers, to the vendors that are in the building, everyone backstage, in front of house. It's the way we have to do it in order to keep our business alive and keep our industry thriving.”
The theatre has installed MERV 13 filters, and transitioned to touchless technology. The theatre has also released an app fans can use to access tickets and even order drinks.
“You can just pre-program your drink and have it waiting for you. You don't have to wait in line anymore.”
Doors will open half an hour earlier to give attendees more time to get inside.
The Hippodrome isn’t the only theatre welcoming fans back. Legler is encouraging fans to support other local theatres as well they begin their seasons.
“Obviously, our industry suffered quite a bit. But, I would say that Center Stage and Everyman are wonderful regional theaters. The way you can support theater now is to buy a ticket. So, if you can, there's Christmas Story coming up. There's holidays coming up, buy a ticket to something local, support the arts. They all need help right now," said Legler. “It's 1000’s of jobs, even in Baltimore. 1000’s of jobs. 1000s’ of people rely on going to work and making paychecks so they can live their life. So please support theatre locally, and buy a ticket. It's the best thing you can do for any of us.”
Waitress opens November 6 at the Hippodrome Theatre. There will be three performances through Sunday evening. The first season show, Tootsie, begins playing on November 30.
“For the next three years, we're going to have the best of Broadway thanks to our audiences. We're an A-list Broadway market, we're getting the best shows right out of New York City right into our own backyard in Baltimore.”