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Broadway is dark. London is quiet. But in Australia, it's showtime.

Australia, normally a secondary market for big-brand shows developed in New York and London, has become an unexpected pandemic pioneer: a model and a test case for the global theater industry.

February 28, 2021 / 09:49 AM IST
(Heidi Victoria via The New York Times)

(Heidi Victoria via The New York Times)

The lights were dimmed, the crowd was masked, and plexiglass divided the orchestra.

Jemma Rix, draped in royal blue and holding a sanitized scepter as Elsa, emerged to greet the “Frozen” family — her spunky sister, Anna, the dashing Prince Hans and the stoic reindeer Sven — all tested for COVID-19, belting out familiar lines with new meaning.

“For the first time in forever,” they sang, “nothing’s in my waaaay!”

The crowd erupted in applause, not just for the cast, but for the moment: Actors are back onstage, and audiences are back in seats. At a time when New York and London theaters remain dark, Australia’s stages are (carefully) bright — “Come From Away” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” have reopened in Melbourne, “Hamilton” is scheduled to join “Frozen” next month in Sydney, and “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” is preparing for a summer start in Melbourne.