The show must go on, and with no refunds. That's the message theatergoers in South Florida received regarding this weekend's performances of “Hamilton" even as other events shut down to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Miami Herald reported that Miami-Dade’s Arsht Center notified patrons via email on Thursday evening that no refunds will be issued for performances on Friday and through the weekend.
“At this time, most performances are continuing as scheduled and refunds are not being offered,” Arsht Center president Johann Zietsman's email said. “We will continue to follow guidance from local government health officials, and will implement any new directives from those officials swiftly.”
The theater's decision came after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday recommended the practice of social distancing, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez declared an emergency and Broadway in New York City said it would “go dark.”
Florida tallied 17 more people ranging in ages from 20 to 83 testing positive on Thursday, raising the number of cases statewide to 42, the state health department announced. Most appear to be travel-related but in at least six cases, the source of infection was not immediately clear.
The new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, and the vast majority of people recover within weeks. But it can cause more severe illness including pneumonia in older adults and people with existing health problems.
The decision to continue with “Hamilton” and refuse refunds brought outrage from ticket holders and others, the newspaper reported.
Hamilton actor Jon Viktor Corpus, who plays John Laurens in the traveling show, called the approach “disgraceful” in a Twitter reply to a Miami Herald post about it Thursday night.
“I’m in the show. It’s disgraceful,” Corpus tweeted. “The major concern is that the demographic of people most severely affected (by COVID-19) is the same demographic that comes to see our show.”
For now, continuing with performance aligns with Miami-Dade's cultural programs, which also haven't canceled shows.
“We’re not there yet,” said Michael Spring, a Miami-Dade official who oversees theaters and cultural programs. “But we might get there.”
Suzette Espinosa Fuentes, vice president of communications at Arsht, told the Herald late Thursday the situation was “fluid” and that the center was reviewing its no-refund policy.
“We have been discussing options this week with guests who are concerned," she said. "Our box office is fielding a lot of questions, so we are asking everyone to be patient with us.”
The mayor has the authority to close indoor events, but didn't do so as part of Thursday's declaration.
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