Anyone who went to the Sydney Festival opening night of Decadance at the Sydney Opera House or Girl From The North Country at Sydney’s Theatre Royal will have found a COVID-19 case alert in the COVID Safe Check-in history on their Service NSW App, saying that they may have been in contact with a person infected with COVID-19 and that they should monitor for symptoms.

Omicron is everywhere in Sydney at the moment, with NSW now surpassing half a million COVID-19 infections. Cases in Victoria are also soaring with another 37,994 reported today, while Queensland has recorded 20,566 new cases.

There have been no super-spreader events linked to live theatre shows, but the spread of Omicron continues to wreak havoc on the performing arts. Not only are shows having to be cancelled or postponed due to cast and crew contracting the virus, but some audience members are staying away due to hesitancy about attending indoor events, knocking ticket sales.

Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope in An American In Paris in London. Photo © Tristram Kenton

The Australian Ballet and GWB Entertainment announced today that performances of An American in Paris in Brisbane between 11 and 16 January have been cancelled due to COVID-related illness.

A media release said that despite adhering “to rigorous protocols in order to minimise risk, several members of the Company have tested positive to COVID, making it impossible to stage the production this week”.

Co-producer, GWB Entertainment’s Torben Brookman said: “Despite going to enormous efforts to protect our entire Company, like so many productions and events around the country, we have been unable to prevent COVID impacting on An American in Paris’s Brisbane season.”

“Thankfully, most affected members are asymptomatic or exhibiting very mild symptoms, but there is a huge strain right now across everyone involved in the industry physically, emotionally and financially.”

“For an industry that was only just starting to recover from the first 18 months of COVID challenges and restrictions, the latest round of challenges has been devastating.”

An American in Paris is scheduled to resume performances on 18 January and run at QPAC until 30 January before touring nationally.

The Wedding Singer was due to open its Sydney season last week but was forced to cancel performances between 6 and 12 January due to cast members contracting the virus.

Meanwhile, the Canberra season of the musical Come From Away, which was scheduled to begin on 3 February, has been postponed until June “due to the ongoing uncertainty and fast moving number of Omicron COVID cases”.

Come From Away was one of several shows that had to cancel performances over the holiday period due to cast or staff members contracting the virus. Hamilton, Six and Jagged Little Pill cancelled shows in Sydney, as did Moulin Rouge! and Frozen in Melbourne. Moulin Rouge! is now closed between 11 and 16 January “due to the impact of COVID-19 containment issues in Melbourne”.

Sydney Festival had to cancel its season of Qween Lear due to a COVID outbreak and postponed the opening of A Chorus Line, rescheduling the first week of shows. The hotly anticipated musical, which saw its premiere at Darlinghurst Theatre Company shut down by the virus on opening night in March 2020, and its rescheduled 2021 season also shuttered, will now have its first performance in Parramatta on 13 January.