A search of Broadway records turns up no precedent for a construction accident causing a lengthy hiatus of a hit show, such as the one faced by Tony-winner Cabaret after a construction elevator collapse July 21.
One such accident did postpone a notable opening, however: In late April 1946 a steel girder buckled over the stage at the Imperial Theatre the night before Annie Get Your Gun was to have opened. The Irving Berlin show, which starred Ethel Merman, quickly found a booking in Philadelphia where it played an unexpected two extra weeks of tryout before premiering in the repaired Imperial May 17, 1946, and went on to a three-year run.
Several shows have closed temporarily due to illness of a star (Fade Out -- Fade In, Virginia), for rewrites (Higher and Higher), for restaging (David Merrick's Oh, Kay!) and even while rehearsing a new star (Jerry Lewis in the Damn Yankees revival).
One other notable calamity caused a theatre to go on what may have been the longest hiatus of all. Ford's Theatre in Washington DC closed for more than a century after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in one of its boxes. The Ford has since reopened and today houses a bustling resident theatre company.
-- By Louis Botto
and Robert Viagas