Monday, February 8, 2010


The snow storm which dumped upwards of 30" on the DC area has been nicknamed "Snowmageddon" by President Obama, though I prefer "Snowpocolypse," but whatever. I have had an easier time than most, dealing with the inclement weather, as I really don't need to drive anywhere. I did do the "stocking up on supplies" thing on Thursday, the day before the storm hit. When I arrived at the Shoppers Food Warehouse, where I do such shopping, the place was so packed that there was not even a cart available (this branch has hundreds). I walked into the store, took one look at the lines at the checkout, and walked back out again. I drove instead to one of those Harris Teeters located in a parking garage (what's up with that trend?), where there were plenty of shopping carts and many fewer shoppers.

I think I have enough food to last until Easter. I settled in Friday night to enjoy the snow. I am by nature a hibernator, so being stranded in my condo for several days in a row held no fear for me. I was sorry to lose the rehearsals we had scheduled for the weekend; more on that in a mo'.

The storm affected just about every theatre in town, to one degree or another. My poor Wayside Theatre, which has been plagued with weather-related cancellations this winter, lost their weekend of The Buddy Holly Story, which is expected to be a big hit. But not if no one can get to the theatre. Closer to home, the Kennedy Center shut down for the whole weekend, releasing all those Shear Madness folks into the wild.

Even the mighty Shakespeare Theatre Company had to cancel several previews for their upcoming rep. I bet they tore their hair out over that; the Shakes hates cancelling performances for any reason. I am recalling the year I worked there, back in the late 90s, when a huge snow storm similar to this one shut down the city. We were in performance with Henry V, starring that fine classical actor Harry Hamlin, and the theatre was forced to cancel one single performance. Cleanup had barely begun when it was announced that Henry was back on the next night, the only theatre in town to reopen so quickly. Hamlin himself was dispatched to local radio stations to promote the show, and urge patrons to brave the weather and attend. We got wild applause as soon as the curtain rose that night, and the actors spontaneously applauded the audience in return. It was a memorable moment.

I seem to have digressed into Memoryland. It occurs to me that The Shakes is coincidentally previewing Henry V right now; I wonder if anyone at the theatre has noticed that when they do that play, weather wreaks havoc. I noticed that the theatre did not cancel Sunday night, with hugely discounted tickets (10 bucks for all seats! That's a savings of about 65 dollars) made available to try to paper the house.

Rehearsals all over town were affected by the storm, too. Those cannibals over at Signature Theatre in Shirlington planned ahead, and put all their cast and crew in a hotel for the weekend. They were in the midst of tech for Sweeney Todd, and if there is any show which cannot afford to lose tech rehearsals, Sweeney Todd is it. Their previews begin this week; I heard their final invited dress on Sunday was a success.

I haven't heard what the end result was over at Adventure Theatre in Echo Park, but they were also teching their show, scheduled to open this week as well. Someone said the theatre actually lost power, so absolutely no progress could be made there.

My buddy Steve Carpenter is also in tech, for Mauritius at Bay Theatre in Annapolis. Usually a large number of actors and techies live in DC, and the commute between the two cities was impossible for most of the weekend. The theatre announced yesterday that the show's opening night has been postponed.

Which brings me to my own show, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime at the Washington Stage Guild. We have lost three rehearsal days so far, but the greater loss has been a technical one. The company's new space, a charming spot attached to a Methodist church, was used for years by a community theatre. The Stage Guild has higher production standards, of course, so some pretty substantial improvements have been planned to make the theatre more appropriate for professional productions. Namely, a lighting grid and new floor were to be delivered and installed this weekend; that, as you can guess, did not happen due to the storm. After careful deliberation (hopefully over some Jameson's), our glorious leaders Ann and Bill decided that the show's opening should be postponed a week. These technical aspects must be handled, and there are question marks regarding when the large delivery trucks can use the city streets again. There are mountains of snow on every corner and lining every curb, making negotiating the streets very problematic.

For now, we wait, and hope that the dire predictions regarding the next storm, scheduled for tomorrow and possibly going to dump another 10-20 inches of snow, are exaggerated. Snowmageddon may have a sequel.