Smoke Rises Off-B'way Aug. 3; Cabaret Down (At Least) Thru Aug. 16

News   Smoke Rises Off-B'way Aug. 3; Cabaret Down (At Least) Thru Aug. 16
 
Looking west on 43rd St. from Avenue of the Americas: A plywood barricade closes the street where a construction elevator (visible as girders in the background) partially collapsed July 21. The logo of the shuttered Kit Kat Klub is visible in yellow letters just below and to the left of the traffic light.
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Photo by Photo by Starla Smith

Looking west on 43rd St. from Avenue of the Americas: A plywood barricade closes the street where a construction elevator (visible as girders in the background) partially collapsed July 21. The logo of the shuttered Kit Kat Klub is visible in yellow letters just below and to the left of the traffic light.


For the first time since a Times Square construction accident shut down business July 21, the Off-Broadway musical Smoke On The Mountain performed Aug. 3.

Spokesperson David Rothenberg told Playbill On-Line (Aug. 3) he had an inkling this weekend that performances would resume, since a rehearsal has been called for this afternoon. He did say the show took a financial hit during the two-week lay-off. "They lost four big theatre parties last week, and they're not replaceable," Rothenberg said. "That's tough for a little show." On Friday, July 31, West 43rd Street reopened on its Sixth Avenue side, but thru-traffic didn't reopen until this weekend. Smoke had to cancel 15 performances due to the accident.

First produced Off-Broadway in 1990-91, Smoke On The Mountain again plays at the Lamb's Theatre, this time on the upstairs mainstage. Connie Ray and Alan Bailey's musical tells of a humble, religious family who make music for local church groups and socials. They arrive at a particularly conservative parish, where their occasional moments of bad temper or too-true confessions make the pastor (Robert Olsen) skittish. Songs in the show are traditional "white gospel," which is country/folk oriented in sound and arrangements.

Starring in Smoke are Olsen, Constance Barron, Sean Dooley, Dionne McGuire Gardner, John Griffith, Jonah Marsh and Bobby Taylor. Designing the show are Peter Harrison (set), Mary Jo Dondlinger (lighting) and Pamela Scofield (costumes).

Directed by Alan Bailey, Smoke has musical direction by John Foley and arrangements by Mike Craver and Mark Hardwick.

For tickets and information call (212) 239-6200.

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As for Cabaret, the show is officially out of commission until (at least) Aug. 16, according to the Roundabout's box office hotline. The Roundabout Theatre Company is taking the long view on the current crisis. The theatre is now offering theatregoers who bought tickets for the temporarily shuttered show directly from the Roundabout or through a subscription a chance to reschedule for a show between Apr. 27 and May 9, 1999, according to an item in the New York Times. Ticketholders may also obtain a refund if they wish. The number to call is (212) 869-8400.

The problem with seeing Cabaret in April or May, however, is that Alan Cumming, who won a Tony for his portrayal as the M.C., is leaving in March. According to the Times, those who wish to catch his performance before he goes can get a refund and then try to buy tickets for an earlier performance.

The musical was performing at the Kit Kat Klub on 43rd Street, just feet away from the Conde Nast tower where a July 21 construction accident caused the block to be closed. On July 28, Jerome M. Hauer, director of the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management (OEM), said at a press conference that Cabaret would be "closed for a number of weeks."

"We realize what a devastating impact this [construction accident] is having on the Roundabout Theatre," said Hauer. "We are trying to help them all we can."

Ten members of the Cabaret staff were allowed July 30 to enter the Kit Kat Klub. They retrieved costumes and musical instruments so rehearsals of the ill-fated musical could resume at the Roundabout's rehearsal hall on 45th Street, according to production spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown.

"I think it's just going to be a waiting game," Bryan-Brown said. The Cabaret producers reportedly are looking into the possibility of moving the production to another theatre. Witnesses reported sets being removed too, but Bryan-Brown said they were in error.

The show had lost an estimated $1 million as of Aug. 2, according to Bryan-Brown. Cabaret had played 141 Broadway performances before the disaster.

Asked who would pay for the theatre's mounting losses, Hauer said, "they need to file claims with Tishman and Durst," the building's contractor and owner, respectively. Hauer added that, to his understanding the Roundabout was "looking at some other venues" for the show.

Bryan-Brown confirmed a July 29 report in the Daily News that the theatre was considering other spaces for the production but stipulated that, at this point, there were no plans to move the show. He also pointed out that Cabaret would only move to a venue that met the artistic demands of the production. Cabaret director Sam Mendes' environmental staging of the musical duplicates the atmosphere of a pre World War II nightclub. The Roundabout and director Mendes searched for months for an appropriate home for the show before settling on the former Henry Miller Theatre, which was converted into the Kit Kat Klub.

Roundabout Artistic Director Todd Haimes told The Daily News that the Shuberts, the Nederlanders and Jujamcyn, Broadway's three major theatre owners, had inquired about moving Cabaret to one of their houses, suggesting the Cort, O'Neill and Atkinson theatres. Haimes also said he was considering a move to the old Studio 54. He added, however, that such moves would by "phenomenally expensive."

Matters on 43rd Street were exacerbated on July 27, when an eight-foot long aluminum pipe fell from one of the top floors of the troubled tower onto the nearby Kit Kat Klub. The immense netting which has been painstakingly draped around the Conde Nast building caught the pipe and no harm came to any person or the theatre. However, Sunny Mandel, a spokesperson for the OEM, confirmed that if the object had fallen at a different angle, it could have caused significant damage. The fallen pipe reemphasized the existing danger posed by tower.

On a happier note: Side Man and You Never Can Tell, two other Roundabout productions which were forced to close by the accident, resumed performances July 28. They are housed in the Criterion Center at Seventh Avenue and 45th Street. Seventh Avenue was reopened to vehicle and pedestrian traffic July 27.

-- By Robert Simonson
Robert Viagas
and David Lefkowitz

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