Worries about weekend box office remain

The snowstorm that hit the East Coast Wednesday kept some ticketholders away from Broadway on a two-show day — and perhaps more seriously, could hamper the sales bump anticipated for the upcoming Presidents Day/Valentine’s Day holiday weekend.

Legiters were still confirming exact no-show numbers during the day on Thursday, but anecdotal evidence suggests that on average at least two-thirds of ticketholders made it to the theater to see their shows. One industry insider estimated that a few shows got up as high as 80% or 90%.

Auds at the matinees seem to have been more affected than evening shows, perhaps because the Wednesday matinee crowd is more likely to come from suburban areas that received heavier snowfall than the city itself.

Weather-related performance cancellations are rare on Broadway, and on Wednesday all Broadway productions went on in the snow, with no hiccups in attendance logged by casts or crews. Most Off Broadway shows also stuck it out.

Exchange policies were in place to allow snowbound ticketholders to shift performance dates.

Some legiters noted that thanks to the instant-communication opportunities offered by the likes of Twitter and Facebook, productions have an easier time of letting auds know if a show’s going on and whether tickets remain available.

“Mamma Mia!,” for instance, reaped an unusual burst of TKTS business on Wednesday.

By Thursday morning most legiters agreed that conditions in the city weren’t bad at all, despite the dramatic tone of weather-related news coverage.

Still, many in the industry noted that it remains to be seen whether the snow will have any effect on the upcoming weekend’s business.

The three-day weekend celebrating Presidents Day is usually one of the few bright spots in Broadway’s annual winter doldrums. That bump would likely be enhanced by a date-night uptick in biz from Valentine’s Day, which this year coincides with Presidents Day.

But some legiters worry that all the weather coverage may have scared away visitors for a while. A potential multi-day fallout from snow-related flight cancellations also could hinder travel to the city this weekend.

New York, of course, isn’t the only city affected by inclement weather in recent days.

In the D.C. area, Wednesday’s storm was the second major blizzard in a week, with the two together dropping 54.4 inches of snow and shuttering performance events across the region.

Among arts orgs feeling the pain was the Kennedy Center, which was forced to cancel all performances Wednesday, including an SRO perf of the 80-member Mariinsky Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty.” The move follows the center’s cancellations of three sold out performances of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater last weekend after a storm dumped more than two feet on the region. The center is not insured for losses caused by cancelled shows.

It’s a story told throughout the city. At the National Theater, for example, a touring production of the tuner “Grease” also cancelled its Wednesday performance.

Like all Washingtonians, officials at the Kennedy Center are hoping for an immediate change in the weather pattern. On Feb. 26, the entire Mariinsky Opera and Orchestra arrives there for a 12-day gig. Some 330 people will be participating, according to one very nervous center official.

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