Get Them to the Stage On Time: Casts and Crews Find Ways to Make Curtain During Transit Strike

News   Get Them to the Stage On Time: Casts and Crews Find Ways to Make Curtain During Transit Strike
Producers in New York City aren't going to let a transit strike prevent the show from going on.
Most shows will go on despite New York City's barricaded subway stations.
Most shows will go on despite New York City's barricaded subway stations. Photo by David Gewirtzman

While it's up to theatregoers to figure out how to get to the theatre on time without the help of buses or subways, general managers and producers are getting creative about making sure their casts and crews are present for the half-hour call before the curtain goes up.

William Russo, general manager at Playwrights Horizons, told that cast and crew members who live far from the troupe's West 42nd Street home, where Miss Witherspoon is playing, were offered cots and use of the kitchen and bathrooms at the theatre. Two outer-borough crew members spent Monday night Dec. 19 in the makeshift dorms at the not-for-profit's headquarters, in anticipation of the transit strike.

The work stoppage by employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) began in the wee hours Dec. 20, stranding millions in the five boroughs of New York City.

Playwrights Horizons' Russo said cast members of the Christopher Durang play live close enough to the theatre or have arranged travel by car for performances, but if the strike continues, he expects other long-distance crew members may take PH up on the offer to bed down in one of two spaces in the building — either a rehearsal room or the intimate Peter Jay Sharp Theater, the company's second stage, which is dark at the moment. (One space is for ladies, the other for gentlemen.)

There are seven crew members working at the Mainstage of PH for the current show, Russo said. Stage management for Miss Witherspoon resides in New Jersey, from which New Jersey Transit buses and trains can deliver commuters to midtown Manhattan's theatre district. As to whether the strike will keep theatregoers away, Russo said, "People might be a little more resilient than we give them credit for…we'll see." (This just in: Russo said all walkup theatregoers to Miss Witherspoon can snag a discounted ticket Dec. 20 for $20.)

The cast and crew of Broadway's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Producers, meanwhile, are sharing a chartered bus that will pick up employees from "upper Broadway all the way down to the theatre," spokesman Rick Miramontez told "Others will take Long Island Rail Road and cabs and the usual methods."

The cast and crew of Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life have all made alternate arrangements to get to the theatre.

"In her years, Chita has been through many New York emergencies and obstacles and hasn't missed a show yet," Miramontez said.

The company of Broadway's Avenue Q is due at the theatre Tuesday afternoon Dec. 20 for a regularly scheduled rehearsal from 1-5 PM for a put-in for Mary Faber, the new Kate Monster and Lucy The Slut, who begins performances in the roles Dec. 26. The troupe will stick around the area until showtime.

In the case of Off-Broadway's Dog Sees God, "the actors all live in the vicinity of the Theatre, the Century at 111 E. 15 St., within walking distance," said spokesman Sam Rudy. "Our crew lives mostly in Brooklyn, so they are car pooling together, heading into the city by van this afternoon."

Ken Denison, general manager of Off-Broadway's Bingo and Almost Heaven said, "We have been in constant contact with our cast and crew members throughout the day. We're doing our best to ensure that all company members are not only able to get to the theatre for the show, but that they also have a secure means of getting home afterwards as well — that's our focus right now."

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