On Broadway, the name “Sandy” normally calls to mind an adorable canine star – the heroine’s sidekick in the musical “Annie,” whose current revival directed by James Lapine began previews on Oct. 3.
This week, it stands for a bite of perhaps $7 million in lost revenues over the last three days. Broadway theaters remained dark on Tuesday in the wake of the storm named Sandy, the second night that all 29 currently running shows remained closed. Nine of them had lost scheduled Sunday evening performances as well, as Broadway closed early in anticipation of the storm’s arrival.
The Broadway League, which represents producers and theater owners, announced on its website Tuesday that it expects “most shows” to resume on Wednesday, when the majority are scheduled for both matinees and evening curtains.
In true showbiz fashion, the league’s executive director, Charlotte St. Martin, accentuated the positive: “For those theater-goers who are staying in hotels and can’t get home, it’s a great time to see a show.”
Broadway took an $8.5-million hit in August 2011 when Hurricane Irene shut down the 23 productions then running for a weekend. With shows losing two or three performances, the aggregate gross fell from $20.1 million the previous week to $11.6 million -- a 42% drop.
The most recent box office figures published by the Broadway League showed average earnings of $104,378 per performance during the week ending Oct. 21. Multiply that by 67 lost performances so far, and you have a $7-million ballpark figure for storm losses incurred by theaters and producers – not counting any mayhem that wind and rain may have done to the venues themselves (and not taking into account what producers might stand to recoup if insured for such losses).
Actors, and perhaps other unionized Broadway employees, also could lose out unless management feels kindly disposed, a la another “Annie” character, Daddy Warbucks.
Maria Somma, union spokeswoman for Actors’ Equity, said Tuesday that an “act of God” clause in the Broadway actors’ contract says that cast members won’t be paid for performances canceled for reasons beyond the producers’ control.
But after Hurricane Irene, she said, “we asked producers to pay our actors, and other unions did the same. All the shows with the exception of ‘Rock of Ages’ did step up and pay everybody, which was really quite wonderful of them.”
Most Broadway theaters are clustered between 41st Street and 54th Street in Manhattan. To the north at 5th Avenue and 82nd Street, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced on its website Tuesday that it has “every hope of reopening as soon as possible” and advised visitors to check the website in the morning to see whether it will reopen Wednesday. The Met said that its other venue, the Cloisters overlooking the Hudson River in upper Manhattan, will not reopen Wednesday.
The Museum of Modern Art announced on its website that it will reopen “when the city’s public transportation system has been restored.”
The American Museum of Natural History said via its website that it will be closed Wednesday but will reopen Thursday -- a disappointment for kids who’d been expecting to go trick or treating among the exhibits in a planned Halloween celebration.