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Rise up: Broadway shows set to return to Blumenthal in August

Charlotte's Blumenthal Performing Arts Center leaders plan to fill every seat when they reopen.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There is one industry that has been completely shut down since last March, translating into almost $50 million lost to the City of Charlotte: Broadway.

But Charlotte's Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is planning a major comeback sooner than you might think.

"We are hitting the ground running really fast," the CEO of Blumenthal Tom Gabbard said 

It’s a bold initiative to bring Broadway back to Charlotte at the end of August.

"We expect to sell every seat, if not close to it," he explained.

Gabbard has been the CEO of the Blumenthal Performing Arts for almost two decades. He said because of the cost of the shows, the only way to make money in the theatre business is to fill every seat, but he said they’re doing it carefully.

"We've done a lot to improve the HVAC in our buildings," Gabbard said. "We may have people that come in just to breathe the fresh air."

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Just having live theatre will be a breath of fresh air after a very trying year in the business. Blumenthal had to let go of 176 part-time employees, 40 full-time employees and lost 90 percent of its revenue.

"This has been painful and also why we're excited to see projects on the horizon to get these people back to work and doing what they love," Gabbard said.

He says the stoppage impacts more than just theatre workers.

"It is literally hundreds of people who rely on what we do to generate traffic to restaurants, hotels and other hospitality," Gabbard said.

That’s why he said they’re working so hard to open the doors again. Masks will be required, and they're even considering requiring proof of vaccination.

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"We put all these things together," Gabbard said. "I’m confident it will be a safe environment, and the people will have reason to come back."

Hadestown, which won the Tony for Best Musical in 2019, starts at the end of August. Other Best Musical winners like Wicked, Hamilton, 1776 and RENT are just some of the hit shows this upcoming season. 

Season tickets are on sale now. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale closer to the individual performances.

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