Broadway Goes Dark During Blackout

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On Broadway, the show did not go on.

Twenty-two shows — 19 musicals and three plays — went dark Thursday, their normally blazing marquees unlit. Outside the usually packed TKTS half-price ticket booth in Times Square, there were no crowds — only a few forlorn, would-be theatergoers.

On the front of the box office, a handwritten sign said, "There are currently no tickets on sale."

Diane Baskin of Oak Park, Mich., sat with her 20-year-old daughter, Jill, in front of the booth. They had purchased tickets for the Thursday evening performance of "Gypsy."

"We're just people-watching," said Jill. "You've got to make the most of it," added her mother.

Refunds or exchanges would be available from the point of purchase, said Jan Svendsen, a spokeswoman for the League of American Theatres and Producers.

"We're just serving drinks and nuts," said Angus McIndoe, proprietor of Broadway's most popular theater hangout. "I can't cook anything because the (stove) exhausts don't work. I can't open the refrigerators because the minute I open them everything could spoil."

McIndoe speculated that the blackout could cost him up to $50,000 if all his food spoiled on top of all the drinkers going home.

Losses could be sizable for theater producers. Take "The Producers" — it grosses about $950,000 per week for eight performances, so it could lose almost $120,000 for Thursday night alone.

Standing next to the St. James Theatre was Sarah Cornell, who plays Ulla, the Scandinavian sexpot in the Broadway hit "The Producers." Cornell, who just started in the show Aug. 5, had come to the theater but was told to go home.

"I guess it's a free night," she sighed.

The last time all of Broadway shut down was after Sept. 11, when the lights went dark the day of the bombing and the next. A musicians strike closed musicals, but not plays, for four days last spring.

The luckiest show in town Thursday was "Say Goodnight Gracie" — no evening performance was scheduled.