Nightly at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theater, Hades, the king of an industrial underworld, boasts of his “power chords and power lines” before bellowing, as the lights flash, “I conduct the Electric City!”
But on Saturday night, even the title character of “Hadestown” turned out to be powerless.
The blackout that darkened parts of Manhattan’s West Side forced the closure of all but a handful of Broadway shows — as well as movie theaters, Carnegie Hall, a Jennifer Lopez concert at Madison Square Garden, much of Lincoln Center and many smaller venues, stranding ticketholders and disappointing tourists who had flocked to performance venues for a Saturday night out.
“There was a line of people outside waiting, so we hate to have to not do the show for them,” Aaron Tveit, one of the stars of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” which is now in previews, said disappointedly as he left the shuttered Hirschfeld theater. “Hopefully everyone is just safe.”
The electricity failed about an hour before curtain for most shows, meaning the casts and crew were already in place and audiences were on their way.
[The power failure trapped thousands of people in subways and dimmed Times Square.]
Some lucky patrons were treated to brief sidewalk songs while producers tried to figure out whether the lights might return in time to salvage Saturday night — generally the most lucrative night of the week for Broadway.
Outside “Hadestown,” the Tony winner André De Shields (who plays Hermes in the Tony-winning show), accompanied by several horn players, serenaded the crowd with a blackout-themed riff on “Road to Hell,” the show’s opening number.
At “Come From Away,” the cast and the band performed a rendition of that show’s boisterous opener, “Welcome to the Rock.”
The cast of “Waitress” also seized the opportunity to sing for fans while waiting to see if the performance would be canceled (which it was).
Even some Carnegie Hall performers entertained blackout crowds.
There are currently 30 shows running on Broadway, and the Broadway League said it believed that 26 canceled their performances Saturday night. Only those located on the east side of Broadway were able to perform, including “Be More Chill” (at the Lyceum), “Beautiful” (at the Stephen Sondheim), “Beetlejuice” (at the Winter Garden) and “Burn This” (at the Hudson).
Among those canceled were all of Broadway’s biggest grossers — “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and all three Disney shows — “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and “Frozen.” Lincoln Center Theater canceled its two Off Broadway shows, “In the Green” and “The Rolling Stone,” and elsewhere on the campus a Mark Morris dance performance was canceled, as were a Jazz at Lincoln Center webcast and parts of Midsummer Night Swing.
At 8 p.m. at New World Stages — home to several commercial Off Broadway shows including “Jersey Boys” and “Rock of Ages” — the lobby was dark and crowds of ticketholders stood idly at the doors. Attendants, some looking as confused as showgoers, said that shows were canceled and tickets paid by credit card would be refunded. Outside, the cast of “Rock of Ages” sang for patrons.
Martine Sainvil, a spokeswoman for the Broadway League, said ticketholders should contact their point of purchase for information about refunds and exchanges.
Reporting was contributed by Niraj Chokshi, Nancy Coleman and Ali Watkins.
Michael Paulson is the theater reporter. He previously covered religion, and was part of the Boston Globe team whose coverage of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. @MichaelPaulson
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