More Denver area concerts, Broadway’s “Lion King” canceled as omicron concern spreads

Show cancellations and postponements — from concerts to touring Broadway productions — have returned to Colorado, previewing the omicron-driven turmoil that has engulfed New York City in recent days.

Growing alarm over the omicron variant of COVID, highlighted by the more than 21,000 new infections reported in a single day last week in New York, now threatens the next several weeks of indoor public gatherings in Colorado. Those include dozens of crucial, revenue-generating Christmas and New Year’s Eve events for local arts and culture companies.

The long-delayed return of “The Lion King” Broadway tour, for example, has been shaken by last-minute cancellations, including its Sunday night show.

On Monday, officials said a pair of Tuesday, Dec. 21 shows (2 and 7:30 p.m.) were also canceled. Decisions for future performances will be announced Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Denver Center for the Performing Arts told The Denver Post.

“Although negative PCR testing allowed us to move safely forward with this afternoon’s matinee performance, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have just been detected within the company of ‘The Lion King’ …” Denver Center leaders wrote Sunday, just two hours before the late show was scheduled to begin.

New York’s Broadway, often a harbinger of other nationals tours, saw several shows canceled last week after cast or crew members, including for “Hamilton,” tested positive. The Metropolitan Opera is also now requiring booster shots for admission, The New York Times reported. As the leading opera company in the U.S., Met policies frequently trickle down to local companies.

“Everyone is going to be doing this,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, told The Times.

Some Denver events still weeks away, such as the Feb. 14-16 Midwinter Bluegrass Festival at the Northglenn Ramada Plaza, have preemptively canceled due to omicron concerns. That means two consecutive years of no in-person gatherings, organizers said.

“We do not feel confident that we could safely hold an indoor picking festival,” officials wrote on Dec. 17. “Rather than risk people’s health, we have made the difficult decision to cancel and go another year without gathering as a community.”

Denver’s current public health order requires masks or proof of vaccination in Denver and other metro areas for everyone aged 2 and older in all public, indoor spaces until Jan. 3, unless otherwise extended, city officials said Friday.

Most promoters and venues began requiring masks, proof of negative COVID tests and vaccination proof as early as September to get ahead of the rule changes. Despite that, late November and early December have been shaky periods for public events, even before the widespread omicron concerns arrived.

A ribbon-cutting on Dec. 4 for the Thornton Arts and Culture remodel was scuttled; Mayor Jan Kulmann and other city officials were scheduled to attend the free, public event.

After previously postponing it, Colorado Symphony canceled Danny Elman’s Percussion and Piano Quartet show for Jan. 12 at Boettcher Concert Hall due to a COVID-related tour halt from the Berlin Philharmonic, a spokesman told The Denver Post. Ticketholders can contact the box office for refunds; 303-623-7876 or coloradosymphony.org.

Earlier this month, promoter AEG Rocky Mountains also postponed the El Ten Eleven show, previously scheduled for the Bluebird Theater on Dec. 11, until Feb. 6, 2022.

The wave of cancellations began building earlier this month: both Holiday Harmony Reunion Shows from Sound of the Rockies on Dec. 11 were canceled at the Newman Center “due to COVID protocols,” while a Dec. 11 Mission Ballroom show from Turkuaz and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe was also nixed.

Cancellations or postponements will prompt automatic refunds for some ticketholders, as well as 30-day limits to request refunds for others. See your ticket retailer for details, likely axs.com or ticketmaster.com for larger events.

The path has been rocky for ticketholders waiting on delayed or canceled shows, some of which were supposed to happen up to two years ago. In September, Colorado’s StubHub ticketholders received $3 million as part of a massive settlement with the online ticketing company, which had failed to refund consumers for canceled events.

The atmosphere of uncertainty contrasts with the dozens of new concerts being announced each week for venues ranging from Boulder’s intimate Fox Theatre to Broomfield’s cavernous FirstBank Center, even as other industries have been crippled by omicron outbreaks.

The NBA on Sunday canceled a Denver Nuggets game due to a raft of breakthrough infections among the visiting Brooklyn Nets, while multi-game postponements and newly strict vaccination requirements have arrived for the Colorado Avalanche (four games through Wednesday, Dec. 23) and Denver Broncos, respectively.

This is a developing story.

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