Backstage Broadway in the Blizzard

News   Backstage Broadway in the Blizzard
 
For one frozen night, Joe Piscopo was king of Broadway. The former "Saturday Night Live" star made his Broadway debut in "Grease!" Jan. 8 -- the night that nearly two feet of snow fell on Broadway, blacking out every show but his.

For one frozen night, Joe Piscopo was king of Broadway. The former "Saturday Night Live" star made his Broadway debut in "Grease!" Jan. 8 -- the night that nearly two feet of snow fell on Broadway, blacking out every show but his.

Pete Sanders, spokeman for the show, reported that "Grease!" sold out all 1104 of its seats Monday night.

"The crowd was very eager, very into it," Sanders said, "because they had to brave a lot of odds to get there, they wanted to be there." Producer Barry Weissler was on hand, and reportedly served free hot chocolate to all attendees.

Weissler said a subway ride convinced him to stay open. "I haven't taken the subway in years," he said. "But I was down there and saw all these New York visitors with their suitcases who couldn't get out of town [because of the snow]. So I thought, with all these people stranded, what else is there for them to do?"

So Weissler said his staff notified concierges in theatre district hotels to let their guests know that there was something for them to do on a snowy evening. "We had sold only 400 seats as of Monday morning," Weissler said. "By that evening, we'd sold 1200 [including standing room]. The show's always a party, but last night it was a blast."

Several ticket holders unable to get into New York City also exchanged their tickets for future performances, he said. "We're looking forward to the next snow storm," Weissler deadpanned.

He may get his chance; another big snow storm was expected Jan. 12.

Piscopo wasn't the only star who adhered to the "the show must go on" tradition.

"Beauty and the Beast" gave two shows Sunday, Jan. 7, as the snow was still falling.

It was a special adventure for Christianne Tisdale, who was finishing her very first week as the "beauty," Belle. She said walk-in business nearly sold out the Palace Theatre, where the show is playing. But with concerns about the mounting snow, Tisdale said, "Your feelings are that some people will be worried about getting home and their minds won't be on the show. So you better give them a good show." But, Tisdale reports, "the audience was great."

In the song "Something's There," which is performed in a snowy courtyard in the animated film on which the musical is based, "a lovely giggle ran through the audience when they heard the sleigh bells at the start of the song, because they knew exactly what the scene was."

Soon, they knew, they'd be coping with some of the white stuff themselves.

One last note: Piscopo also wasn't the only performer who made a debut during the storm. Anne Runolfsson, who has the unenviable job of understudying Julie Andrews in "Victor/Victoria," got to go on in the title role(s) Sunday, Jan. 7, when Andrews missed a performance, not because of the storm, but reportedly because she was suffering from flu. Andrews was scheduled to return to the show Jan. 10.

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