New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Sept. 12 that Broadway is one of New York City's major attractions — more popular than the Mets and the Yankees, he conceded — and encouraged the Great White Way's theatre owners and producers to reopen for business Sept. 13 after two days of darkness following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York City.
Broadway theatres and box offices, as well as the midtown TKTS Discount Tickets Booth, were expected be open for business as usual — albeit, with the disaster and the great loss of life on all minds — Sept. 13. Off-Broadway theatres were also expected to reopen, although some venues below 14th Street, where no traffic is allowed, may be shuttered (e.g., 29th Street Rep's The Last Barbecue has suspended performances until Sept. 18.) On the other hand, Lore Noto, producer of The Fantasticks, said in a Sept. 13 statement, "We do expect some cancellations, but, the show begins again tonight."
Theatre audiences should call ahead to box offices or ticket agencies to confirm performances.
Broadway marquees will be dimmed Thursday night "as a gesture of respect for the victims of the recent attack on New York and their families," said League of American Theatres and Producers president Jed Bernstein.
National touring shows went dark Sept. 11, and some resumed performances Sept. 12. Most were expected to be performing, according to The League. Those who held Broadway tickets for shows Sept. 11-12 can get refunds or exchanges at point of purchase, according to a League statement. The Broadway musical Urinetown, which was to have opened tonight, resumes performances this evening but has postponed its official opening date.
How well-attended the shows will be, given the painful distraction of the deaths of thousands, is anybody's guess.
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 about an hour. Great loss of life is expected. Estimates for the death toll are in the thousands. Two other planes were hijacked, one of which crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC, the other in western Pennsylvania. Hundreds 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.
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 Sept. 11-12.
The whole of Downtown Chicago was evacuated Sept. 11, 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 its performances of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and Burn the Floor.
Performances for Goodspeed Opera House's They All Laughed! in East Haddam, CT, were canceled Sept. 11-12. A spokesperson there said a show with such a title seemed sadly inappropriate in the wake of the tragedy. Shows resume there Sept. 13.
— By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson, David Lefkowitz and Christine Ehren