Though Chicago and other U.S. cities have until now been spared any loss of life or property on this day which has crippled landmarks in New York City and Washington, D.C., major theatres and cultural institutions across the nation have taken the cautionary step of shutting their doors. The precautionary measures are in reaction to apparent terrorist attacks which have destroyed both towers of the World Trade Center and a section of the Pentagon and shut down government buildings all along the East Coast.
The whole of Downtown Chicago has been evacuated, 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 include 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, has been emptied of people. No performances were scheduled for today, but a rehearsal of the new musical The Visit was canceled.
Los Angeles, too, will cancel 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, are joining in the closings. Outside of Los Angeles proper, the Laguna Playhouse and South Coast Repertory Theare will not perform Spinning Into Butter or The Circle this evening.
Houston will also shut down its downtown area, effectively ending theatrical performance in the city. Among the cancellations will be the Alley Theatre's production of The Glass Menagerie. The Tony Award-honored non-profit company expects to resume performances tomorrow. Houston's Stages Repertory Theatre, currently performing Elizabeth Rex, will also shut down. There are currently no performances at Theatre Under the Stars and the city's national touring venue, Jones Hall.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts in Colorado shut down, as well. Two planes flew into the South and North Towers of the World Trade Center shortly after 9 AM on Sept. 11, ripping gaping holes in both monuments. After burning for little under an hour, both buildings collapsed to the ground. Numerous fatalities are expected.
The disasters prompted the suspension of all Broadway shows and, very likely, the shuttering of all theatres across New York City and the Metropolitan area.
[See related stories on the Broadway and Washington, DC, closings.]
—By Robert Simonson
and Christine Ehren