Broadway theatres forced to delay shows due to bomb scare

Judd Hollander

A car containing a crude homemade bomb was found in the heart of Times Square on Saturday evening, forcing the evacuation of numerous establishments in the area, and delaying the curtains going up at various Broadway theatres.

“We were very lucky,” New York Mayer Michael R. Bloomberg said at a press conference held at 2.15am on Sunday morning. “We avoided what could have been a very deadly event.”

Both Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly were at an event in Washington, D.C. when the situation unfolded. Upon being informed of what was happening, they immediately returned to New York.

Speaking on the Sunday morning public affairs programs Meet The Press, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the US government was treated this is a possible terrorist incident.

At approximately 6.30pm on Saturday night, a T-shirt vender noticed smoke coming from a green Nissan Pathfinder, which was parked at an odd angle at 45th Street and Broadway, with its hazard lights flashing, and altered a nearby mounted police officer. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer detected the smell of gunpowder, and quickly called for backup. Within minutes, police and emergency fire services descended upon the area, along with the police department bomb squad who sent in a “robotic device” to better assess the situation, according to deputy police commissioner J. Paul Browne.

As police evacuated an approximately five square block area, authorities found, according to Mayor Bloomberg, an amateurish looking device consisting of three tanks of propane, two five-gallon drums of gasoline, a collection of fireworks and two clocks with wire and batteries. Browne noted that the device “appeared to be in the process of detonating but it malfunctioned.”

While many Broadway theatres had their start times delayed, all of the shows did give performances Saturday night, albeit later than usual.

Martin McDonagh’s Behanding in Spokane and the Broadway transfer of the Donmar Warehouse production of Red, both started approximately a half-hour late. After the shows came down, audience members were directed away from Times Square, parts of the area still under lockdown until early Sunday morning. The musical The Lion King, the closest theatre to where the car bomb was found, started approximately one hour late.

In a statement released by the Broadway Theatre League early Sunday afternoon, League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin noted: “There were no evacuations from Broadway theaters last night. Due to police activity that closed a few streets in Times Square, there were some late curtains but all shows did go on….All Broadway matinee and evening shows will go on as scheduled today [Sunday, May 2]. The proper authorities are doing their jobs to keep Times Square safe for everyone.”

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