Broadway, movie theaters go into hurricane mode

Manhattan residents evacuate ahead of Sandy's arrival

Broadway and most Gotham venues, showbiz congloms from Sony to Viacom and movie theaters closed their doors Sunday as subways, buses and trains ground to a halt and a tense city awaited perilous winds and lashing rain from Hurricane Sandy, expected to smash the area overnight and linger for several days with waves up to 20 feet high and winds gusting up to 70 miles an hour — as high as 90 mph between some New York City skyscrapers.

Broadway wasn’t big enough for two Sandys, with every production on the boards — including the current revival of “Annie,” which famously co-stars a dog named Sandy — announcing they would cancel all performances scheduled for Sunday night and Monday night, concurrent with the plan for the public transportation shutdown.

The strongest winds are expected Monday afternoon and night. If they rise too high the city may close Manhattan’s bridges and tunnels.

Many movie theaters, including the AMC circuit, closed early Sunday as well. Filming in and around the city has halted, and Focus Features is said to have suspended the New York City premiere of “Anna Karenina” Tuesday.

The city subway, which takes eight to ten hours to shut down, will be offline starting 7 pm EST Sunday evening. It’s the nation’s busiest system with about 4.3 million passengers a day.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered mandatory evacuation of 375,000 residents in low-lying areas around the toe of Manhattan. The zone most at risk of flooding includes Battery Park City, much of the Financial District and parts of Tribeca, Chinatown and the East Village. It extends up to Hell’s Kitchen and Murray Hill along Manhattan’s riverfronts. Sections of Brooklyn and Queens, in particular Coney Island and the Rockaways, are also emptying out.

“As a result of the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation for the incoming storm, all Broadway performances in NYC on Sunday evening, October 28th and Monday evening, October 29th are canceled. All Sunday matinees are playing as scheduled,” said the website Broadway League Sunday afternoon.

Refunds would be available through ticketbuyers’ purchase outlets, according to the Broadway League, the trade association of legit producers and presents. Telecharge and Ticketmaster, the two major Rialto ticket outlets, would process refunds in seven to 10 days, the League said, and in the case of the three cancelled performances from Disney Theatrical Prods. — “Mary Poppins” and “The Lion King” on Sunday evening and “Newsies” Monday night — many of those refunds had already been completed, according to Disney’s legit arm.

The darkening of all shows on the Rialto, a step only rarely taken due to severe weather, had been almost unprecedented two years ago, when the Main Stem shut down for two days in anticipation of Hurricane Irene. The second time around, it all felt a bit more familiar.

In 2011, Irene shuttered the Rialto for all Saturday and Sunday perfs one weekend in August. This year, the shutdown as scheduled should be somewhat less serious at the box office, with the majority of weekend perfs out of the way by Sunday evening and fewer shows skedded to play Monday nights, which until recently had been Broadway’s traditionally universal day of rest.

Other legit events — such the kudo ceremony for the Steinberg Playwright Award, planned for Monday night — and performing arts events, including all programming at Carnegie Hall — also were cancelled or postponed.Singer Brandi Carlile has suspended Beacon Theater concerts that were scheduled for Sunday and Monday evenings and clubs around the city were closed.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” is still set to film at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this week despite Sandy, using back-up generators in case of power failure and flying staff and crew in early.