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Broadway Shows Canceled After New York City Blackout

Jul 14, 2019
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The bright lights of Broadway dimmed considerably last night during a massive power outage in New York City. Tens of thousands were without electricity for about five hours. Theaters were darkened, and shows were canceled, disappointing many fans and tourists. And believe it or not, the outage happened exactly 42 years after New York City's infamous 1977 blackout. That one resulted in widespread looting and violence. But last night, things seemed a lot more chill.

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UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL GROUP: (Singing) Oh, it's a blackout.

MARTIN: There were singalongs and impromptu performances on the sidewalks of Broadway.

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UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL GROUP: (Singing) It's a blackout.

MARTIN: Laura Heywood has lived in New York for 15 years. After dinner with a friend, she headed toward Times Square to see the musical "Frozen."

LAURA HEYWOOD: When I came past a certain point where I could see that a bunch of the billboards in Times Square were dark, I knew there was a problem because those things never go off - even in, like, the dead of night. It was clear that it was not going to be a normal night on Broadway.

MARTIN: It was far from normal for Briallen Hopper, who described the night as magical. She and her friends first got stuck on the subway for an hour. When she got onto the street, the sidewalks were clogged with pedestrians, and Hopper saw civilians directing traffic at intersections. And then she followed her ears.

BRIALLEN HOPPER: As I started getting close to Carnegie Hall, I heard this celestial sound like angels singing on the street. And I just saw a choir that had been planning to sing that night was just out on the street singing for everyone.

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UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL GROUP: (Singing) Wonderful to be...

MARTIN: Members of the Millennial Choirs and Orchestras group had taken their scheduled concert outside.

HOPPER: Altogether, my blackout experience was really pretty positive (laughter).

MARTIN: Kevin Raponey is a performer with the musical "Rock Of Ages." He says they decided to give their disappointed fans outside the theater a taste of what they would be missing.

KEVIN RAPONEY: So we did a little of "Don't Stop Believin'," which is the closing of our show. And everybody clapped and got their cameras out and decided to make the best out of the blackout in Manhattan.

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RAPONEY: (Singing) A singer in a smoky room...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).

RAPONEY: (Singing) ...A smell of wine and cheap perfume.

MARTIN: But all good parties must come to a close. This one ended the moment the lights came back on...

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UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).

MARTIN: ...Shortly before midnight in the city that never sleeps. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.