UPDATE March 20, 11:45 a.m.: This story has been updated to include the timeline of events leading up to the Arsht Center's announcement last night that a person who had attended the March 12 performance had tested positive for COVID-19. The Arsht has not responded to requests for further comment.
Miami New Times has learned that an audience member who was present for the Thursday, March 12, performance of Hamilton at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts has tested positive for COVID-19.
Arsht Center CEO Johann Zietsman sent an email earlier today to all who attended the show, including Arsht staff and volunteers, informing them of the development.
"This afternoon (Thursday, March 19), we were notified that a guest in attendance at the Hamilton performance on Thursday, March 12 has tested positive for COVID-19," the letter reads in part. "The individual had no symptoms that evening but began developing symptoms two days later. After seeking medical care, the guest was confirmed to be positive for COVID-19."
The letter goes on to note that the guest is the person who notified Arsht management about their illness and that the person "is now at home and under quarantine, as instructed by health officials."
In an email to New Times, Arsht spokeswoman Suzette Espinosa stated, "There have been no other audiences in the building since that evening, and we don’t want to incite fear in patrons who were not at that particular performance. We want to limit unnecessary panic amongst consumers that could put more of a burden on the healthcare system and our community’s resources."
Indeed, the Arsht did not reopen its doors after the curtain fell on Hamilton last Thursday, March 12. But the venue's current efforts to reassure its patrons stand in contrast to its insistence on staging that Thursday-evening show amid a wave of cancellations sweeping the nation. Most events that night were called off; Hamilton at the Arsht and Mean Girls at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts were among the rare exceptions. Virtually all of the professional sports organizations had already scotched their seasons, and the NCAA had scrubbed its hugely popular March Madness college basketball tournament. Concert tours were mothballed. Miami-Dade County had confirmed its first case of COVID-19 the previous night, prompting Mayor Carlos Gimenez to declare a coronavirus state of emergency.
And late Thursday afternoon in New York City, on the order of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, all 31 shows running on Broadway — including Hamilton — went dark.
Yet Zietsman insisted the show would go on.
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“At this time, most performances are continuing as scheduled, and refunds are not being offered,” the Arsht CEO wrote in an email to theater patrons Thursday afternoon. “We will continue to follow guidance from local government health officials and will implement any new directives from those officials swiftly.”
So the show did go on. Not until 1 p.m. the following day, March 13, did Zietsman announce the Arsht would close its doors without staging its last five Hamilton performances.
Of course, Zietsman had no idea COVID-19 had already found its way inside. He did, however, know of the agitation among Hamilton's touring cast members. In a since-deleted tweet prior to Thursday's performance, Jon Viktor Corpuz, who was playing the dual roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton, wrote:
“I’m in the show. It’s disgraceful. The major concern is that the demographic of people most severely affected is the same demographic that comes to see our show.”