Broadway Bails And Boards Up for Hurricane Irene

The Show Must Go On? Apparently not. This common phrase used by those in the theatre community may apply 100% of the time, but this weekend has proved an exception. As New York City and the state of New York declare “States of Emergency” in anticipation of Hurricane Irene, expected to slam the East Coast, and directly hit New York City, this weekend, The Broadway League made history of Friday August 26th 2011 as they announced ALL Broadway productions performances for Saturday August 27th and Sunday August 28th would be cancelled prompting a complete shut down of Broadway.

Hurricane Irene is currently (I say currently because it could change by the time I publish this blog post) a Category 2 hurricane barreling towards the East Coast of the United States. The storm is expected to make landfall early Saturday morning somewhere along the North Carolina coast line and then make its way up the coast hitting major cities along the way such as Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. 65 million people currently lay in the way of the storms path. 19 million of those people are currently located in New York City.

While Irene passing up the coast may not seem like a big deal, it is when you mention that the storms eye (at this point in time also) while travel directly over Manhattan. What does this mean? Wind gusts of over 100 MPH and storm surges potentially flooding major parts of the city are most likely. Earlier this week, New York state declared a “State of Emergency” in order to prepare for Hurricane Irene and its potential aftermath. On Friday August 26th, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced all New York City mass transit (Subways, Buses, Other Rails) would begin closing Saturday August 27th at noon to prepare for the oncoming storm. Despite this decision, Broadway producers had the mind set of “The Show Must Go On”.

However, at 3 PM the weight shifted as Disney Theatricals was the first to decide that their weekend performances for both The Lion King and Mary Poppins would be cancelled. Disney released the following statement along with their closing announcement, “Disney made the decision in the interest of its patrons’ and staff’s safety following the announcement of the impending suspension of MTA and Metro North service”.

And not too long after came the announcement many were then waiting for. Shortly after 4 PM on Friday August 26th, The Broadway League announced ALL Broadway performances for both Saturday August 27th and Sunday August 28th would be cancelled. Paul Libin, the chair of the Broadway League stated, “The safety and security of theatregoers and employees is everyone’s primary concern”. Also, when asked about the decision to shut down all productions they cited “the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation of the incoming storm” as a major factor.

As of this moment, almost all Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway shows are cancelled. The New York International Fringe Festival has also cancelled all Sunday performances at this time.

This emergency shut down of all Broadway shows is historic. Besides the fact that the Great Blackout in August of 2003 shut down all Broadway shows for one performance only, this emergency shut down marks the first since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

So despite the fact that Irene was a Broadway show at one point in time and a hit at that, this storm is going to be hitting Broadway in a totally new fashion. Anyone in New York City who is in an evacuation zone, should evacuate as ordered to remain safe. While the aftermath of Hurricane Irene remains to be seen, as of this moment right now All Broadway shows will either resume performances on Monday or Tuesday of next week. Word on if show week schedules will be changed to make up for the lost performances this weekend have not been announced yet. If you had tickets to this weekend’s performances, you can click here for ticket refund information. Luner on Theatre will be sure to keep you up to date on all the Hurricane news affecting Broadway specifically. If you follow us on Twitter, @Luner_onTheatre, we will be updating all the time on the current status of the Hurricane and it affecting Broadway. Until next time, stay dry people but more importantly stay safe!

Hurricane Irene From Space

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