Off Broadway struggles with sustained power outage
Gotham’s legit industry began to pick up the pieces in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with most Broadway productions resuming perfs Wednesday and all of them set to be back up and running for the Thursday evening curtain.Downtown Manhattan’s Off Broadway venues, on the other hand, lingered in a state of uncertainty due to the sustained, widespread power outages that hit the southern end of the island. Shows located in the dark zones — including the Vineyard Theater’s Nixon bio-drama “Checkers,” written by Douglas McGrath and starring Anthony LaPaglia, and Classic Stage Company’s Ethan Hawke starrer “Ivanov” — were suspended indefinitely until it could be determined when the lights would come back on. (Both in previews, “Checkers” had been set to open Oct. 31 and “Ivanov” was skedded for Nov. 4.) Along the Main Stem, producers grappled with getting personnel to the theaters safely and punctually, a particularly challenging undertaking for large-scale tuners with big casts, crew and orchestras to manage. Those in the industry also were far from certain how business would turn out to be, given the ongoing hurdles facing potential auds. The midtown outpost of Theater Development Fund’s discount-ducat TKTS booth reopened Wednesday, but legiters said Times Square traffic, both on foot and in vehicles, was notably reduced. Several shows anticipated calling on a number of understudies to fill in for absent thesps, and others came up with contingency plays to go on with a smaller roster of personnel. Disney Theatrical Prods., which aimed to avoid such obstacles by holding off on playing perfs Wednesday, anticipated picking back up Thursday evening with all three of its shows, “The Lion King,” “Newsies” and “Mary Poppins.” Rialto producers expected to take a hit from the loss of perfs earlier in the week as well as the extended transportation difficulties facing auds going forward. The only small comfort to be found was in the fact that Broadway sales are often softened anyway by the distractions of Halloween and the New York City Marathon, both of which fall during the current frame. One brewing Broadway show, the Katie Holmes starrer “Dead Accounts,” was forced to begin tech rehearsals later than intended due to the storm and so pushed back its first preview date by two days (but only one schedule performance) to Nov. 5. Sandy’s Rialto shutdown came at a crucial time for a number of titles just gearing up to open, including porn-industry comedy “The Performers” and tuner revival “Annie.” Among those, the Jessica Chastain-toplined revival of “The Heiress” forged ahead, planning to open Thursday as scheduled.