By Robert Simonson
and Robert Viagas
29 Jul 1998
The hit Broadway production of Cabaret will be "closed for a number of weeks," said Jerome M. Hauer, director of the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management (OEM), at a press conference on NY's W. 43rd Street July 28.
"We realize what a devastating impact this [construction accident] is having on the Roundabout Theatre. We are trying to help them all we can."
Cabaret 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. Cabaret has officially canceled performances through Aug. 2 and cancellation of the further shows is all but certain.
Read about Other Notable Interruptions in Theatre Runs
That does not, however, necessarily mean Broadway has seen the last of Tony-winning star Natasha Richardson, who was due to depart Aug. 2. Production spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown said she may agree to stay in New York beyond that date and do some performances as Sally Bowles. No word on Jennifer Jason Leigh, who was scheduled to assume to role Aug. 4.
The show will have lost an estimated $1 million by 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.
Roundabout spokesman Adrian 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. Hauer said he hoped to see netting on the east side of the structure completed by July 28 and one or two panels on netting on the north side completed the same day. 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.
Hauer said 44th Street between Seventh Avenue and Avenue of the Americas will remain closed until Friday or Saturday, July 31 or Aug. 1. The fate of the Off-Broadway production of Smoke on the Mountain, located in the Lamb's Theatre on W. 44th Street, remains in question. The show has been dark since July 21, and has canceled its July 29 performance.
"The producer [Carolyn Rossi Copeland] made a statement that if we can't open this week, we might have to close," said press rep David Rothenberg. "But I think we'll open this week."
Rothenberg could not be reached about whether a Friday or Saturday reopening of Smoke would save the show.