The snow that ate the arts

The balmy strains of Gershwin's "Summertime" went unheard at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. No one got a glimpse of "The Glass Menagerie" at Rep Stage or lived through the trauma of "Two Rooms" at Everyman Theatre. The adventures of the long-nosed hero of "Cyrano" went unlived at Center Stage.

It was the snow that ate the arts, along with everything else.

"The long and short of it is that it has taken quite a hit on us," says Ian Tresselt, managing director of Everyman, where performances Friday through Sunday had to be canceled because of the weather.

And that was just a week after the Jan. 30 snow had caused additional cancellations and before another heavy storm that is expected to start today. "I would love to say there's a bright spot in there somewhere, but there just isn't," Tresselt adds. "We're going to have to think creatively to make up for the inventory lost. We won't make our single-ticket goal. It's a bummer."

Over at the Meyerhoff, there was a lot of energy Friday morning as music director Marin Alsop led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Morgan State University Choir and several out-of-town guest artists in the final rehearsal of a program featuring selections from "Porgy and Bess." But all of that effort was for naught. The only two scheduled performances were scrapped.

"This could be a record-setter for cancellations," says Eileen Andrews Jackson, the BSO's vice president of marketing and communications. "The snow on Dec. 19 forced us to cancel two performances of the BSO Holiday Spectacular, which were among our best-selling, and we were doing really strong single-ticket sales for 'Porgy and Bess.' So we're disheartened and disappointed."

Canceled shows can play havoc with the finances of any arts organizations, especially if patrons prefer refunds to exchanges (some people donate the cost of the unused tickets back to the organization, a welcome gesture).

For those who had their hearts set on a particular attraction, the cancellations can be particularly annoying. There are no plans to reschedule the "Porgy and Bess" program; getting all of those forces back any time this season would be a challenge.

Theatergoers expecting to catch "Cyrano" over the weekend were out of luck; those were the final performances scheduled in the run at Center Stage (some ticket holders switched to last Thursday's performance in anticipation of the bad weather).

And for a company hoping to launch a new production, with the local media on hand, the wicked white stuff proved a major hurdle.

"Last week, we were able to do two preview performances of 'The Glass Menagerie,' but we had to cancel five shows, including the official opening on Sunday afternoon," says Michael Stebbins, artistic director of Rep Stage in Howard County. "Our rehearsal process was so good. There was a such a healthy atmosphere, and everyone was really looking forward to the opening. We're going to have a brush-up for the cast on Tuesday and hopefully be back on Wednesday."

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