Once the audience was seated, the rains came again — on cue, like a jest of God — but soon stopped after the umbrellas went up. After the stage had been mopped and toweled down a second time, The Public’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis, took to the stage (around 9:24 PM) and welcomed his determined and undeterred patrons. Then he asked them to give up their cellphones, beepers and umbrellas for the duration. “We’re going to get through this,” Eustis promised. “We may have to stop for a while along the way, but we are going to get through it all tonight.”
He was a man of his word. The rest of the evening went off without a hitch, although there were some scary patches of spritzing during the 90-minute entertainment.
Scenic designer Bob Crowley and lighting designer Natasha Katz, who created some Tony-nominated magic for the original Capeman, were in attendance, as were a number of name-brand critics who had taken blood oaths not to print their findings. At this embryonic stage, the revised show is still considered a work-in-progress.
Opening-night rain is a good omen for Paulus, whose previous reinvention for The Public — Hair — won the 2009 Tony for Best Musical Revival and racked up 519 performances at the Al Hirschfeld. When that premiered in the park, the night was nervously alive with thunderous rumblings and flashes of lightning. It wasn’t until the last number in the show — when the cast broke into “Let the Sun Shine In” — that the heavens parted and dumped a downpour on the audience.
The Capeman had an invited dress Aug. 13 and its only preview Aug. 14 — both without incident. Its last performance will be Aug. 16, and rain is forecast.
— Harry Haun