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Small Theaters File Suit Against New York State to Push for Reopening Date

The suit is led by the owner of the Theater Center, home to Perfect Crime.

Richard Shoberg and Catherine Russell in Perfect Crime
(© Graham Dougherty)

Eight small New York City theaters have filed a class action suit against Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to demand a reopening date.

The venues are the Theater Center (Perfect Crime), the Players Theater (Monday Night Magic), the Actors Temple Theatre (Soul Doctor), Soho Playhouse (Fleabag), the Gene Frankel Theater (Happy Birthday, Wanda June), the Triad (Celebrity Autobiography), Broadway Comedy Club, and New York Comedy Club. The suit is being led by Catherine Russell, who runs the Theater Center and also stars in Perfect Crime, and Michael Sgouros of the Players Theater.

The suit argues that pandemic restrictions are being enforced selectively. These small theaters and clubs are hoping to open at 25 percent capacity, which is in line with the indoor dining restrictions that began on September 30. In the early days of the pandemic, the Theater Center was one of the venues that was planning to stay open with an uninterrupted performance schedule, before being shut down on March 16.

Russell, in a statement, said that she has installed "cutting edge hospital grade air scrubbers providing bi polar ionization decontamination in its HVAC system which deactivate any germs in the air immediately, in addition to MERV13 filters, numerous hand sanitizing stations, and on site Covid Compliance officers ensuring all safety protocols are in place and strictly followed."

The lawyer representing these theaters is James Mermigis, the same attorney who has filed recent class-action suits against New York State on behalf of restaurants and bars, gym owners, strip clubs in Buffalo, and high school football players.

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