Arts Desk

For Some D.C. Theaters, Snow Spelled “A Total Disaster”

Cars and bicycles weren't the only things buried by the recent snowfall—a thick frost settled over D.C.'s theater scene over the last week. The snow storms that battered the mid-Atlantic led to canceled performances across the city, leaving theaters scrambling to schedule replacement performances and make up lost revenue.

"It's a total disaster," said Rebecca Medramo, executive director of the Gala Hispanic Theatre, which canceled two performances of Beauty of the Father. "We will lose close to $30,000 in ticket sales, assuming groups are discouraged because it's impossible to get around. People just won't go out or they can't dig themselves out."

Although the Gala may lose nearly three quarters of its projected revenue for the month, Medramo hopes that smaller productions will offset the loss.

"If there's a dark night in between shows, we'll fill it in with our artists and stand-up shows," she said. "Just simple things that we can produce in the lobby while we serve liquor—it's the only way to make money these days!"

The storms cast similar concerns at other theaters. The Signature Theatre postponed its debut of Sweeney Todd, originally set to open on Feb. 9, and canceled performances of I Am My Own Wife. "It's hard to know what the total impact [of the storm] will be at this point," Managing Director Maggie Boland said. "We canceled a lot of performances; rescheduling them will absolutely impact our income in the long run."

Although the financial impact of the cancellations is obvious, some are optimistic. John Hirvela, marketing director of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, believes the worst is over—hopefully.

"Our ticket sales didn't see a significant dip," he said. "We're continuing to sell tickets, but we hope that there won't be a subsequent storm to layer on top of what we've already had."

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