When the Weather Gets in the Way of Your Show

Anthony J. Piccione

OnStage New York Columnist

Right now, as I am writing this, there is an approaching winter snowstorm expected to hit New York City at around 2-4am in the morning, with several inches of snow expected to hit the ground over the next day or so. Already, there is talk of the trains being shut down, schools have already been cancelled, and people are encouraged to stay safe during what’s expected to be a particularly terrible storm.

Most people who aren’t in theatre, I imagine, are probably relieved at the likely possibility of a snow day that keeps them at home. Throughout most of America, however, that cannot be said of the passionate artists in the theatre community who are often being kept from the stage, in these situations.

Now, granted, for artists, producers and audience members who actually live here in NYC, I’ve learned that no matter how bad it is outside, and no matter what schools might be doing, people will still do everything they can to ensure that the show goes on, and is seen by as many as possible. Just this past month, for example, the opening night of my one-act comedy Two Cousins and a Pizza at the NY Winterfest not only went ahead as planned, but also still got a good turnout, despite there being a bad snowstorm in February.

However, I can still recall a time in my life when entire shows would be cancelled, before my days in NYC, thanks to mean old Mother Nature.

During my early years in theatre in Connecticut – back when I was still acting, as opposed to producing my old plays I’d written, in school and community theatre – there were quite a few instances, in which this happened. As I sit here in my apartment on this night – as yet another storm approaches my area – it’s hard for me not to reflect on those times. 

When I was a senior in high school, back in January 2011, I was in the ensemble for a production of Annie that was being done as part of the professional Main Stage series at the now-defunct Hartford Children’s Theatre. If I remember correctly, it was only one performance that was cancelled due to the snow, but still, one less show is still too sad, as far as I’m concerned. Later that same year, during my first semester of college, performances of my first show that I ever participated in at Eastern Connecticut State University – a Japanese play called The Island – were cancelled not once, but twice, due to what was (at the time, anyway) one of the worst snowstorms in recent memory to hit Connecticut. 

Those are just two examples that stand out in my own theatre career. However, I’m sure that of the people I know who still live in Connecticut and do theatre there, they can name even more times, in which such an unfortunate situation came upon them.

They aren’t the only ones, I’m sure. If you are active in community or regional theatre in many other parts of the country where such bad weather can occur, this is most likely something you can also relate to. It makes me sad that they often occur, and that there is nothing that can be done about it, as I’m sure the many talented people I’ve worked with in my CT theatre years can attest to. Indeed, there’s nothing worse than working hard and putting your heart and soul into something you love, only to see it cut short as you near the finish line.

Anyway, just thought I’d throw that out there. Many of these feelings are still left over from back in 2011, and I guess I’m still just getting some of them out of my system now. Heh…

What are your experiences with snow days, or any other bad weather situations that lead to a show getting cancelled? Any story you have that might particularly stand out? Feel free to let us know in the comments section.

This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Playwright, producer, screenwriter, actor, poet, critic and essayist based in New York City. 

To learn more about Mr. Piccione and his work, please visit www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to follow him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage) and on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione).