Blackout a Thing of the Past to NYC Theatres, Including Bway, Off-Bway and Fringe

News   Blackout a Thing of the Past to NYC Theatres, Including Bway, Off-Bway and Fringe Broadway was back in business Aug. 15 after a massive power outage that began Aug. 14 and darkened shows that night. It's been business as usual ever since.

Despite a loss of what Variety reported as perhaps $1 million in additional sales above what had already been purchased for that dark Thursday, Broadway seems to have taken the blackout as a bump in the road rather than a car crash.

All 23 Broadway shows went on Aug. 15, and scattered Off- Broadway productions were lighted, though geographically Off-Broadway tends to be located downtown, where power was restored later that uptown.

New York Theatre Workshop's Flesh and Blood, a tight ensemble piece playing on East 4th Street, for example, lost two shows Thursday and Friday, though an approving Saturday matinee audience cheered the return with a standing ovation.

The TKTS discount-tickets booth in Times Square, a program the Theatre Development Fund, reopened five hours early Friday to handle the return of thousands of tickets bought on Thursday. The TKTS location at the South Street Seaport didn't relight until Saturday.

By the time lights went out Aug. 14, the TKTS booth in Times Square had sold 2,100 seats, according to a TDF spokesman. On Friday, power returned to the booth in Times Square early in the morning, and refunds were made beginning at 10 AM. By 3 PM Friday, discount tickets were being sold in Times Square, although there was a 90-minute delay in sales for shows serviced by Ticketmaster. TKTS sold 4,400 tickets for Friday night's performance, down 2,500 from the previous Friday (when both TKTS booths were operation).

Theatregoers fished for discounts Saturday, however: The combined matinee and evening shows Aug. 16 sold 8,300 tickets, up about 600 from the previous Saturday.

Jed Bernstein, president of the League of American Theatres and Producers, said in TV reports over the weekend about 18,000 tickets had been sold for Aug. 14 shows, and ticketholders would be accommodated for the future. A spokesperson for the League told Playbill On-Line Aug. 18 that those who could not make it to shows Friday due to commuting issues should inquire about exchange information at point of purchase.

Those who held tickets to Aug. 14 shows of any kind in affected areas around the country — or in southern Ontario — should inquire about refunds or exchanges at the point of purchase.

According to FringeNYC.org, the website of the New York International Fringe Festival — an Off-Off-Broadway experience — all shows Aug. 14-15 were cancelled and will be rescheduled. For information about the new schedule, visit the www.fringenyc.org.

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The feet of Broadway performers, crew members and musicians were extra tired Aug. 16 following a day of creative commuting to and from shows in a New York City where public transit service was slowed or simply unavailable due to the massive Aug. 14-15 power outage that hit parts of eight states and southern Ontario.

Shows were back in business Friday Aug. 15 after one dark night, Thursday Aug. 14, and shows Saturday Aug. 16-17 played as usual. By Saturday morning, subway service was 100 percent operational, but on Friday show folks were litrerally pounding the pavement to get to work.

Personnel putting on shows on and Off-Broadway had to be especially creative about getting to work on time Friday due to the lack of commuter and subway trains. Some walked, some hopped cabs, some crammed into buses, some carpooled.

On Friday night after performances, many cast, crew and musician folk who live in outlying areas or so-called outer boroughs had crashed at the Manhattan homes of friends, colleagues or relatives so as to avoid a possibly difficult Saturday commute to the 2 PM matinees.

By 11 PM Aug. 15, some 31 hours after the 4:11 PM (ET) Aug. 14 energy failure, 100 percent of power in New York City had been reported as restored (though pockets of outages were later reported).

As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, it was announced at 2 PM Aug. 15 that Broadway shows would go on Friday night as usual (power seemed to be back up by early afternoon in most of the theatre district).

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