No lights, big city: Broadway performers take to the streets during blackout

People walked past Radio City Music Hall in the dark during the power outage in New York City on Saturday.
People walked past Radio City Music Hall in the dark during the power outage in New York City on Saturday.Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK — A power outage crippled the tourist-filled heart of Manhattan just as Saturday night Broadway shows were set to go on, sending theater-goers spilling into siren-filled streets, knocking out Times Square’s towering electronic screens and bringing subway lines to a near halt.

Electricity was restored to customers and businesses in midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side by about midnight.

Most Broadway musicals and plays canceled their Saturday evening shows, including ‘‘Hadestown,’’ which last month won the Tony Award for best musical. Several cast members from the musical ‘‘Come From Away’’ held an impromptu performance in the street outside the theater for disappointed audience members.


Cast member Chad Kimball shared a video on Twitter of the cast singing an excerpt from the show outside.

Warning: This video includes language some may find inappropriate

Emily Totero, 30, planned to bring out-of-town guests to see ‘‘Moulin Rouge.’’ But once they got to the theater district, they saw the power go out.

‘‘You could see all the theater lights across the street, all the marquees went out. That’s what we noticed first,’’ she said.

Among those forced to perform on the street were cast members from “Hadestown,” scheduled for a performance at the Walter Kerr Theater. Chorus member Kimberly Marable shared a video of Tony Award winner André De Shields leading the cast in song.

With firetruck lights flashing in the background, the cast of the musical “Waitress” appeared outside to sing to audience members and cast member Erich Bergen briefly captured the moment.

The outage also hit Madison Square Garden, where Jennifer Lopez was performing Saturday night. Attendees said the concert went dark about 9:30 p.m. in the middle of Lopez’s fourth song of the night. The arena was later evacuated. And at Penn Station, officials were using backup generators to keep the lights on.


Both Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts were evacuated.

When the lights went out early Saturday evening, thousands of people streamed out of darkened Manhattan buildings, crowding Broadway next to bumper-to-bumper traffic amid emergency vehicle sirens and honking car horns.

People in the neighborhood commonly known as Hell’s Kitchen began directing traffic themselves as stoplights and walking signs went dark.

Ginger Tidwell, a dance teacher and Upper West Side resident, was about to order at a West Side diner on Broadway and West 69th Street just before 7 p.m.

‘‘When the lights started flickering, and then were out, we got up and left, walking up Broadway with all the traffic lights out and businesses dark,’’ she said.

But once they got to West 72nd Street, they found another diner that was open and had power.

‘‘It was still sunny and everyone just came out to the street because they lost power and air conditioning; it was super-crowded,’’ she said. ‘‘Everyone was hanging out on the street on a nice night. All you could hear was firetrucks up and down Broadway. All of Broadway was without traffic lights.’’