Broadway and U.S Theatres Reel from Terrorist Attacks in NYC and DC

News   Broadway and U.S Theatres Reel from Terrorist Attacks in NYC and DC All Broadway theatres and box offices, as well as many stages across the country, were closed Sept. 11 — and will be shut down for matinee and evening shows Sept. 12 — in the wake of devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The day after the seemingly unthinkable collapse of both World Trade Center towers left lower Manhattan strewn with rubble, bodies and inches of volcanic-like dust, it was indicated Broadway may be back in business Thursday as part of a nationwide call for a return to normalcy.

All Broadway theatres and box offices, as well as many stages across the country, were closed Sept. 11 — and will be shut down for matinee and evening shows Sept. 12 — in the wake of devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The day after the seemingly unthinkable collapse of both World Trade Center towers left lower Manhattan strewn with rubble, bodies and inches of volcanic-like dust, it was indicated Broadway may be back in business Thursday as part of a nationwide call for a return to normalcy.

A League of American Theatres and Producers spokesperson told Playbill On-Line Sept. 12 that the target for the reopening of Broadway shows in midtown Manhattan would be Sept. 13. A press release was being drafted to indicate refund or exchange possibilities, a spokesperson said. Playbill On-Line will report details when they are released. It was known late Sept. 11 that Sept. 12 matinees would be shuttered.

"We're waiting to take our cue from the Mayor," League president Jed Bernstein said Sept. 11. "If he calls for a return to normalcy, we wouldn't want to get in the way of that."

A spokesperson for The League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers told Playbill On-Line Sept. 12 that all Off-Broadway theatres would remain closed for Wednesday performances. This includes shows of the long-running hits Stomp, Blue Man Group, De La Guarda, The Fantasticks and others, as well as nonprofits such as New York Theatre Workshop. The League's target date for reopening is Sept. 13.

All streets below 14th Street are closed to non-residents by city edict, meaning some Off-Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway venues may be closed for business past Sept. 12. In Washington, DC, Sept. 11, The Shakespeare Theatre canceled its performance of The Oedipus Plays and resumes shows Sept. 12. At The Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT, the Sept. 11-12 performances of They All Laughed! were canceled. The musical will resume Sept. 13. For information about your favorite local venues, visit the company websites or call box office to confirm performances.

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Two hijacked commercial airliners crashed into one, and then the other, WTC tower in lower Manhattan shortly after 9 AM Sept. 11, just as people reported to those buildings for work. Explosions and fire caused both structures to crumble in less than an hour. As of 11:35 AM Sept. 11, casualties were said to include 164 passengers and crew aboard both planes. Two other planes were hijacked, one of which crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC, the other in western Pennsylvania. Over 100 people are reported dead at the Pentagon. Officials are shrinking from predicting a death toll in New York City, but the city’s fire and police departments have already reported many losses.

Theater Development Fund's World Trade Center TKTS discount tickets booth had one treasurer opening the office at 2 World Trade Center at the time of the crashes. David LeShay of TDF told Playbill On-Line Sept. 12 that the employee escaped without harm and there were no other TKTS personnel on site. LeShay said when Broadway is presenting again, the TKTS booth in Times Square will be open as well.

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The explosions caused a ripple effect in theatres across the nation with companies closing their doors in Washington, DC, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and other large urban areas.

The whole of Downtown Chicago was evacuated, including the Sears Tower, an official at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company told Playbill On-Line. Besides such famous cultural institutions as the Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute, closings also included productions of Love Letters and The Blue Room at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts. The Goodman Theatre, located in the heart of the loop, was been emptied of people. No performances were scheduled yesterday, but a rehearsal of the new musical The Visit was canceled.

Los Angeles, too, canceled various Sept. 11 performances including the first bow of the Geffen Playhouse's The Unexpected Man, starring Christopher Lloyd. The Ahmanson and Mark Taper Forum, showing Car Man and Charlayne Woodard's In Real Life, joined in the closings. Outside of Los Angeles proper, the Laguna Playhouse and South Coast Repertory Theatre did not perform Spinning Into Butter or The Circle.

Houston also shut down its downtown area, effectively ending theatrical performance in the city. Among the cancellations were the Alley Theatre's production of The Glass Menagerie. The Tony Award-honored non-profit company expects to resume performances Sept. 12. Houston's Stages Repertory Theatre, currently performing Elizabeth Rex, also shut down.

Arena Stage canceled its Sept. 11 performance of Agamemnon and His Daughters after a state of emergency has been declared in the District of Columbia.

Denise Schneider, media relations director at Arena Stage in D.C., said, "We would like to say we will be operating as usual the rest of the week, but it's too early to tell." Staffers there had the option of going home Tuesday morning.

The Kennedy Center, The Shakespeare Theatre, The Studio Theatre (all in D.C.) and Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, were all shut down.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts in Colorado shut down, as well.

— By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson, David Lefkowitz and Christine Ehren