Australian actor Hugh Jackman, who currently stars in the Broadway musical “The Music Man,” told fans Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was experiencing mild symptoms.
“I just wanted you to hear it from me,” a masked Jackman told his 30 million Instagram followers. “I tested positive this morning for covid. My symptoms are like a cold … but I’m fine,” he said, adding he had a sore throat and runny nose.
The show said Tuesday that it would be canceling all performances through Saturday, adding that tickets could be refunded or exchanged. Organizers later tweeted that Jackman, who says he is fully vaccinated, would return to the stage Jan. 6.
On social media, thousands of get-well wishes poured in for the star, who is playing the role of Professor Harold Hill in the Meredith Willson creation.
Last week, Jackman’s co-star Sutton Foster, who is playing the role of leading lady Marian Paroo, also tested positive for the coronavirus and was forced to pull out of the Christmas Eve show. Understudy Kathy Voytko stepped in for Foster, getting to first rehearse the part hours before the show, Jackman told the audience following the show.
In the emotional tribute, Jackman hailed Voytko and other understudies for their “courage” and “brilliance” during “a time we’ve never known.”
“They watch from the corner of a room while we rehearse, while we get to practice over and over again,” he said of swings and understudies who shadow actors during rehearsals and are then placed on standby. “They just get to watch and write notes and then five hours before performance they’re told, “You’re on by the way, you’ve got a wig fitting, go!”
Foster also praised Voytko’s for springing into her role at short notice, saying she “smashed” the performance.
The show’s string of cancellations comes as entertainment venues around the world are being forced to shut their doors once again — due to a surge in cases fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant.
Shows recently canceled on Broadway include “Hamilton” and productions still in previews, like “MJ,” the Michael Jackson musical.
Omicron is now the dominant variant in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates that it was responsible for 59 percent of infections for the week ending Dec. 25.
In Australia, at least 90 performers have contracted the coronavirus, plunging entire productions into isolation and forcing shows to be canceled in Melbourne and Sydney. In London’s West End, dozens of shows have also been canceled in recent days amid the outbreak due to cast and crew members testing positive.
Health experts have, in the past, linked singing to the potential spread of the coronavirus.
According to Britain’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, some evidence indicates that “singing can produce more aerosols than normal talking or breathing,” which may allow the infection to spread more easily when people are gathered to sing for “any appreciable amount of time.”
Officials and health experts around the world are urging people to rethink their plans for New Year’s Eve as infection numbers continue to soar.
“Omicron and delta are coming to your party,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) warned citizens at a news conference Monday.