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Is intermission dead? Lots of hit musicals and plays are now skipping them.

Is intermission dead? Lots of hit musicals and plays are now skipping them.

by Ellen Gray, Updated: February 15, 2020

Anita Holland and Frank Nardi, Jr. Photo by Paola Nogueras

If you’ve been to the theater lately, you may have noticed something missing: the intermission.

The musical Come From Away, about what happened in Gander, Newfoundland, when 38 planes were stranded there on Sept. 11, 2001, came and went from the Academy of Music this season without a break in its 100 heartfelt minutes. The Band’s Visit was even shorter. In 95 minutes, it also told a story about extending a warm welcome to accidental visitors, running straight through to their departure.

Ivo van Hove’s new Broadway revival of West Side Story, which runs an hour and 45 minutes, has been streamlined to exclude both the song “I Feel Pretty” and the original’s intermission. “I want to make a juggernaut,” the Belgian director told Vogue. “You feel that these people are running toward their death and there’s no escape from it.”

Add in intermission-free shows like Jacqueline Goldfinger’s new 90-minute Babel (through March 8Theatre Exile), the 90-minute Once on This Island (May 21-June 21, Arden Theatre Co.), and the 90-minute The Wolves (April 10-May 3, Philadelphia Theatre Company) and it’s clear theatergoers can no longer take it for granted that there will be an opportunity to answer nature’s call — or visit the bar — before the curtain call.

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