Broadway Bounces Back After May 1 Bomb Scare in Times Square

News   Broadway Bounces Back After May 1 Bomb Scare in Times Square A 12-hour evacuation of a section of the Broadway theatre district ended Sunday morning, May 2 following the May 1 discovery of a crude car bomb in an SUV on West 45th Street. Broadway press agents told Playbill.com on Sunday morning that Broadway shows were on for Sunday, as the evacuation was now over.

A spokesman for the Theatre Development Fund said on Sunday that it would also be business as usual at the TKTS discount tickets booth at the north end of Times Square on May 1. Broadway or Off-Broadway theatregoers who may have been prevented from attending their Saturday night performance due to the police action should go to the point of purchase to seek information about possible exchange opportunities. (Theatregoers who secured tickets through discount services such as TKTS should inquire about refunds/exchanges at the box offices of theatres.)

Broadway theatregoers and tourists were evacuated from Times Square and some cross streets on the evening of May 1, when a suspicious vehicle parked on West 45th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues produced smoke. Police later found a cobbled-together car bomb that failed to explode. Reports indicated that the elements in the SUV might have produced a potentially harmful "incendiary" event rather than a massive explosion.

There were reports of some delays of Saturday-night Broadway curtains due to the incident and the resulting police barricades, which prevented some theatregoers from getting to their theatres. When the incident came to light, apparently after 6:30 PM, police started blocking off Times Square between 43rd and 46th Streets.

Smoke pouring from a parked Nissan Pathfinder (near the 45th Street entrance of the Minskoff Theatre, when The Lion King is playing) led a street vendor to alert police, who sought backup from firefighters and bomb-squad personnel. They discovered "explosive elements" including three propane tanks, consumer-grade fireworks, tanks of gasoline and timing devices.

By about 7 AM May 2, the car had been removed and the evacuation in Times Square had ended. An intensive investigation is ongoing. There was no explosion, though there were some reports of a small boom or pop preceding the smoke.

Broadway shows on or near West 45th Street include Next to Normal, The Lion King, A Behanding in Spokane, God of Carnage, Red, Billy Elliot, Lend Me a Tenor and Come Fly Away.

Playbill.com learned that the Saturday night curtain of Mary Poppins went up on schedule on West 42nd Street, as did the curtain of La Cage aux Folles on West 48th Street. The Addams Family on 46th Street began about 20 minutes late. A Behanding in Spokane on West 45th Street began about 8:30 PM, with the audience invited to move down front into any empty seats. God of Carnage began around 8:30 PM. At the end of the show, the audience was held for 15 minutes and was instructed to exit through the stage door alley, into the Milford Plaza lobby toward Eighth Avenue. The same happened at Red, next door. Lend Me a Tenor, at the Music Box on 45th, also began around 8:30 PM Saturday. At the end of the show, the audience filed out through a back exit through the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 46th Street.

The Enron company on West 44th Street learned shortly before 8 PM that there was a nearby police action, so the curtain was delayed for a few minutes. At the end of the performance, around 10:30 PM, an announcement was made to the audience that they should exit west toward Eighth Avenue and not toward Times Square. One observer told Playbill.com, "The police were not kidding around. They hustled people out."

A cast member from The Lion King told Playbill.com that the show began almost an hour late on Saturday night. The south tower of the Marriott Marquis Hotel was evacuated at some point Saturday evening; hotel guests later returned to their rooms.

At 2:19 AM May 2 New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a press conference to address the car bomb discovered in the city's Times Square.

In part, he said: "It about 6:30 last night, an alert T-shirt vendor — who is a Vietnam veteran — noticed an unoccupied suspicious vehicle on 45th Street, just off Seventh Avenue… He alerted police office Wayne Rhatigan of the NYPD mounted unit, who was on his horse Migs patrolling Times Square.

Officer Rhatigan saw the vehicle, a Nissan Pathfinder, which had smoke emerging from vents near the back seat, and he also smelled gunpower. He, with the officers assigned to Operation Impact, immediately evacuated the area, and called for the fire department and more police. Firefighters, emergency service officers, and the bomb squad responded and the bomb squad indeed confirmed that the suspicious vehicle did indeed contain an explosive device. There were gas cans and bomb-making materials in the car. The experts in the bomb squad are removing them as we speak.

Who abandoned the car, and why, are under investigation by the NYPD."

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