NEW YORK – The lights went up again on Broadway Wednesday for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit New York, as entertainers headed back to work in a city still wracked by power-outages and a suspended subway system.
Though some Broadway shows, including Disney's "Mary Poppins" and "The Lion King" remained dark Wednesday night, the curtain was to rise for many of the other 38 shows, including "Cyrano De Bergerac." Patrick Page, who plays the villain Comte de Guiche in the production, was heading back to the theater for a matinee performance, even if he was unsure if there would be anyone in the seats.
"Broadway is as important an icon of New York City as the subways, so to get back to work is a sign that we can bounce back," he said. "This has been such a tough time for so many and it's vital that we show the lights are on and there's great work being done onstage."
Page said he spent a restless time off in his Upper West Side neighborhood, worried about his in-laws along the New Jersey shore — he is married to actress and TV personality Paige Davis. He said he checked Facebook to find out how friends were fairing, obsessively watched the news and went out to check that neighbors had ridden out the storm.
"We're New Yorkers," he said. "We'll get through this."
The company of "Peter and the Starcatcher," the Tony Award-nominated prequel to Peter Pan, faced some tense moments before their Wednesday matinee. Five of their dozen cast members live in Brooklyn and faced a dicey commute. For instance, their Peter Pan, Adam Chanler-Berat, didn't fly to the theater — he biked.
As the 2 p.m. show loomed, all the cast was in place, except for Isaiah Johnson, who plays Captain Scott. Playwright Rick Elice and co-director Roger Rees, who were both at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, each was ready to go on if he didn't make it. He did — but only five minutes until curtain.
In downtown theaters, though, the stories were grim.
The SoHo Rep was without power and had some flooding, while MCC Theatre had no electricity Wednesday. The Barrow Street Theatre was dark and facing the prospect of canceling additional performances of "Tribes" while they await power. The Bank Street Theater is without power and its basement is flooded, forcing the Labyrinth Theater Company to put off the first preview of their "Radiance." One of the cast members of Eve Ensler's "Emotional Creature," playing on 42nd Street, lives in Long Island, has no electricity and may not be able to get to tonight's performance.
All Broadway shows planned to be back on schedule Thursday and some even managed to turn the mess into promotions. "The Performers" was offering a "Sandy Special" of $29.50 for top tickets, while the Roundabout Theatre Company let patrons with MetroCards buy tickets for $20 to its "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."
New York's late-night TV hosts were back in swing, though, with all resuming regular production Wednesday. The remaining holdouts — Jon Stewart with "The Daily Show" and Stephen Colbert with "The Colbert Report" — were to join David Letterman ("The Late Show"), Jimmy Fallon ("Late Night") and Jimmy Kimmel ("Jimmy Kimmel Live"), who is doing a week of shows in Brooklyn, on the airwaves.
All were to tape with a live studio audience Wednesday. Out of safety and caution, Letterman taped Monday and Tuesday's episodes in front of an empty Ed Sullivan Theater, but it will again be full Wednesday. Fallon did the same at Rockefeller Center on Monday.
Other New York cultural institutions were forced to continue to cancel planned events. Carnegie Hall, which sits on 57th Street near the hanging crane, announced that its Thursday concerts were postponed, after having already done the same for Wednesday night's performances. Lincoln Center swung back into business Wednesday, with the exception of a handful of events. Performances were also to resume at the Metropolitan Opera.
For many, figuring out exactly when to reopen business was a daunting and uncertain decision. While parts of the New York transit system have been restored, predictions on when subways, commuter rails and power to the southern end of Manhattan have generally been vague. Knowing when both performers and audience can get to their stages, TV studios and concert halls has been a day-by-day waiting game.
The Keep a Child Alive foundation announced Wednesday that the 9th annual Black Ball, scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed. Alicia Keys was to host, Oprah Winfrey was to be honored and Beyonce was to perform at the Hammerstein Ballroom event, which raises money to fight AIDS in Africa.
Robert De Niro's Tribeca Enterprises, the umbrella organization that includes the annual Tribeca Film Festival and the film distribution company Tribeca Film, has remained closed and without power. The organization's nonprofit arm, the Tribeca Film Institute, on Wednesday canceled its annual benefit which was to be a special screening Thursday for the James Bond film "Skyfall." It has been postponed until Monday, and cast members are no longer able to attend.
Film and TV production in New York has ceased outside of sound stages, as the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting said it would not grant permits to shoot in exterior locations throughout the five boroughs until at least Saturday. Production on shows from "30 Rock" to "Gossip Girl" has been affected.
"The city has not issued any location permits this week, so probably the earliest we'll be able to shoot is this weekend," said Warren Leight, executive producer of "Law & Order: SVU." ''We are able to do some location scouting tomorrow and we have our production meetings by phone, with people on their cells and calling from their cars. The main issue is going to be getting power restored."
Some celebrities sought to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Edward Norton on Wednesday kicked off a crowd-funded relief effort via the website CrowdRise.com, with money donated from various companies to help spark giving.
"We wanted to make it easy for people to quickly support relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy through reliable organizations and, even better, to have the impact of their dollars doubled," said Norton. "So CrowdRise has rallied a bunch of great companies committed to matching the funds raised through our page."
Rihanna, who was honored at a Halloween carnival in West Hollywood on Wednesday night, expressed the special concern felt by many celebrities on the West Coast who spend a lot of time on the other coast. "I am really devastated at what's happening," she told The Associated Press. "There is nothing we can do to control it. That is what makes it so difficult. We just have to be there for each other no matter what."
The storm made a mess of Henry Winkler's birthday plans. The one-time TV "Fonzie," rode out the storm safely in upper Manhattan but his thoughts were with those suffering in New Jersey, Long Island and lower Manhattan. He turned 67 on Monday.
"It made my birthday insignificant," said Winkler, who stars as a veteran porn star in the new Broadway comedy "The Performers." ''Just to be able to take a walk was pretty terrific. You think you know how to plan for a storm after all these years and then it makes history. All those millions of people affected, it breaks my heart."
AP writers Lynn Elber and Natalie Rotman in Los Angeles contributed to this report.