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Question: What is the Broadway policy or convention when a production is cancelled in the middle of a performance? My wife and I attended the Dec. 20 performance of Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, where an actor was unfortunately injured seven minutes before the close of the show. They announced that they could not continue the production and sent the audience home. — Dave Blickstein, Nanuet, NY.
A cancelled performance of a Broadway show? That's hardly rare. A weather event could do it. A blackout, too, or a national crisis or emergency. The illness of the above-the-title star — if he/she is the sole reason most people are attending the production in question — will also sometimes bring down the curtain.
But a show cancelled mid-performance? That's more unusual. It happened on Dec. 20 at Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, the mega-musical still in previews at the Foxwoods Theatre on 42nd Street. An actor — later identified as Christopher Tierney, an ensemble member/stunt double for the aerobatic title character — fell from a raised platform into a pit in the stage. He suffered broken ribs and internal bleeding from his 20-30 feet fall. The show was cancelled.
As for the theatregoers who were denied an entire evening at the Foxwoods, Spider-Man spokesman Sam Corbett told Playbill.com, "Per company management and the box office, any audience members from the Dec. 20 performance who inquired were given the option of either rebooking for another performance (at as close to the same [seat] location as possible), or, if they preferred, a refund instead."
Dave Blickstein, our inquisitive reader, chose to see the show again.
Previous occasions of such a Performance Interruptus are rare, so there is not a set Broadway "convention," but in the instances when it has happened, producers have reacted as if the entire show had been cancelled, and offered refunds or new tickets.
At the Oct. 25, 2006, preview of Disney's Mary Poppins, the mechanized Banks house set came to a halt about ten minutes into Act Two. Thomas Schumacher, head of Disney's theatrical division, the show's co-producer with Cameron Mackintosh, announced a brief intermission so the problem could be explored, but the remainder of the performance was cancelled soon after. According to a Playbill.com report at the time, the Broadway audience Wednesday night was invited to attend a future performance.
If and when this happens to you, simply ask at point of purchase.