As I entered the stage door this past Saturday, around 1 pm, I ran into Kelli O’Hara, sliding into the theater with her two young children bundled up against the weather. I thought: if Kelli and her family can brave the snow and make it in from their home in Connecticut, then certainly the rest of The King and I cast and crew, most of whom live in the city, will make it in. The show will go on.
Not quite: five minutes after we arrived, as I was sitting in the backstage canteen area, the production stage manager, Jenn Rae Moore, got on the loudspeaker and announced: “Today’s matinee and evening performances have been cancelled. Thanks for making the effort to get in to the theater today. Stay safe and take care getting home.” All Broadway shows, including The King and I, were abruptly cancelled early on Saturday afternoon by The Broadway League, which acted in response to the travel ban imposed by government authorities.
Were the troops angry that they’d pulled themselves together and made it from points far and wide only to be told their efforts were for naught? Not a bit. Joyous cries arose from several of the ensemble members and echoed through the backstage hallways.
“Snow day! Snow day!”
“Who wants to go ice-skating?”
“Now I can see that movie everyone’s talking about!”
“I’m making hot chocolate!”
“I’m going home to watch a marathon of Real Housewives! Anyone want to join me?
A grimmer, tougher response greeted me after I put my boots back on and trudged outside the theater. As I walked upstairs from 65th street and crossed the Lincoln Center main plaza, I noticed an old woman struggling to make it past the fountain. She was walking with two canes, and, when I asked if she needed help, she waved me off with one of them.
She told me she was 92, Russian, and named Lyudmilla. She had come in from Brooklyn to see a matinee of La Boheme at the Met. When I asked again if she needed assistance, she shot me a look of perfect contempt and replied: “I survived Stalin. What’s a little snow?”
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com.