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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Why Must the Show Go On?

In the Clouds Dept.: Sure, this has been a precipitous winter, but some of us old-timers remember that snowstorm at the beginning of October, 1987, which closed roads and took down wires and marked the last time I tried to keep tropical fish. Here’s a piece I uncovered detailing the travails of the area theaters back then.


TO HEAR THE CALLERS on WGY talk about it, you’d think Proctor’s Theatre was as un-civic-minded as they come. The decision to go on as scheduled with a performance of “La Cage aux Folles” Sunday afternoon – despite the impassable roads the snowstorm left us – was upsetting to many who were stranded in outlying areas (not to mention Albany).

The radio station quoted a Proctor’s official as saying that the performance would take place as scheduled, “just like at a New York City theater.”

At the theater, as showtime approached, executive director Dennis Madden shook his head sadly as he watched the people trickle in. “I didn’t need this,” he said quietly. “This isn’t decision I enjoy making.”

Power stayed on in downtown Schenectady throughout the day, and that, ironically, was bad news for the theater. “If the power went out we could have cancelled and not lost so much money,” Madden explained. “As it is, we’re obligated to pay the producer. And, while it’s the sort of thing we could try to absorb once in a season, you can count on more bad days in winter. This would be a nice day in January!”

An offer was made to matinee ticket-holders to attend the evening performance, and about 60 took them up on it. Those who couldn’t attend have the opportunity to exchange their tickets for any of the following October shows: the Grenadier Guards & Gordon Highlanders (Friday at 8 PM), Circus Royale (Sunday at 3 & 7 PM), the Chinese Children’s Palace of Hangzhou (Oct. 21 at 7 PM), Theatre Organ Pops (Oct. 25 at 3 PM), the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (Oct. 28 at 8 PM), the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (Oct. 29 at 8 PM) and the Mel Torme/Leslie Uggams/Peter Nero all-Gershwin show (Oct. 30 at 8 PM).

Also in Schenectady, the Civic Players were forced to call off a matinee of “Charley’s Aunt,” which was performed instead on Monday evening.

There was electricity at the Market Theatre where Capital Rep’s “Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” was scheduled to continue, but the lights were flickering enough to dismay the company into cancelling both the matinee and the special “donor recognition” performance that evening. Matinee ticket holders may exchange for another performance, subject to availability, and a rescheduled donor recognition performance will be announced.

“The worst of it wasn’t here,” said Capital Rep’s publicity director, Hilde Schuster. “We had to re-accommodate the actors who were in cold buildings, and I was trying to get our costume designer on a plane to Colorado that morning. Which meant spending hours at the airport with no lights – and locked bathrooms.”

At the Egg, a Sunday matinee of “Carnival” was called off, as was a Monday morning performance for schoolkids. Sunday ticketholders can use attend a specially-scheduled performance at 8 PM tomorrow (Friday), and the kids will be brought in tomorrow morning.

Metroland Magazine, 8 October 1987

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