In the middle of Blizzard Jonas, I stood in the middle of Times Square. The billboard lights shining in my eyes, the snow pelting my face. Why why wasn’t I in the warm, safe apartment during the biggest snow storm New York’s had in decades?
Here’s the story.
I’d worn my pajamas inside-out in an act of superstition the night before. Growing up in California I’d never heard of such a thing. My Massachusetts-born roommate set me straight the minute I emerged from my room in plaid flannel. “What are you doing?! Are you trying to get us stuck going to work in the snow?? Take off your pants this minute and turn them inside-out!”
Don’t question the magic of inside-out PJs: that shit works.
I woke up before my alarm and saw giant snowflakes falling steadily outside my window. The blessed, blessed WORK CANCELED email came while I was brewing coffee. I did a celebratory dance around the coffee pot, poured myself a giant mug, and settled into my living room’s comfiest chair for a day of binge-watching and blogging.
That should’ve been the end of my NYC Blizzard 2016 Snow Day Story. But something was wrong.
I couldn’t get comfortable in the comfy chair. My attention span wouldn’t last one episode of Modern Family. The words Add New Post on my laptop screen taunted me and my mind refused to focus.
At 11:20am it was like something bit me. The ol’ cliché theatre bug? I jumped out of the chair with a brilliant Snow Day plan. Broadway shows were still on schedule to perform all day- the show must go on! The blizzard was sure to deter many, so getting theatre tickets today would be like getting plane tickets to Cleveland rather than Paris. I’d been meaning to see Spring Awakening all month and with it closing in a week (so I thought) this was the perfect chance! There wasn’t time to shower if I wanted to try the Ticket Lottery at noon! I threw on a ton of layers and two jackets, hid my greasy hair under a wool hat, said aloud Am I really doing this? YES. And ran out the door.
Snow in Harlem
Yeah right, I didn’t run out the door! I tiptoed out the door, careful not to slip on the foot-high piles of snow! If I’d brought a sled, I could’ve slid down the hill to the subway.
Blizzard on Broadway
I made it to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre just before 12:30PM, just in time to put my name in the drawing for $35 front row tickets.
If you’re more familiar with Power Ball than power ballads, let me explain:
Many of Broadway’s more popular shows have these lotteries before every performance. You show up 2 hours before the show, put your name in a very official-looking receptacle, and cross your fingers. About 10 to 15 names are chosen, the lucky winners get deeply discounted seats, sometimes in the front row. It’s a pretty fun scene, the crowd is always enthusiastic theatre people. I never win. I’ve entered a dozen of these and have never, ever won. (Find a great list of Broadway lotteries and rush discounts at http://broadwayforbrokepeople.com)
The day of Blizzard Jonas was no different. Despite the awful weather conditions, there was still a large crowd for the lottery. I learned the show was closing the NEXT DAY not the next week like I had thought! This was really our last chance to see the show! I held my breath before each name called, none of them were even close to “Mary Lane”.
“If you didn’t win and you still want to see the show, we do have a ‘Lottery Loser’ discount,” said the adorable woman who’d announced all the winners names. As there had been so many cancellations due to the storm, they were happy to hand out this discount like candy! I was thrilled! Sure I wouldn’t be in the front row, but I’d still get to see this incredibly unique show that I’d heard nothing but praise for. Hooray! I was so glad I had made the trip.
I was standing on line for tickets, only four people away from the box office window, when the clock struck 1PM. The door of the theatre opened and a voice cried out, “The Broadway League has shut down all performances! The show is canceled! Broadway is shut down!”
Blizzard in Times Square
And that was that. Broadway shut down- that is a super rare occurence, this blizzard was serious. All roads were shutting down at 2:30pm and underground subways at 4pm. I stood outside the theatre in the rapidly falling snow and felt a little sad. I wasn’t going to see Spring Awakening. Spring itself was many, many months away. At least I hadn’t won the lottery- that would’ve been crushing.
I wondered if the cast had already arrived and had a hunch they might come out and sing. That sort of thing has happened before. I considered standing around in the snow, hoping something would happen. But I was restless and cold. Instead I ran to Times Square to see what it looked like covered in snow.
Which meant I missed this-
But got to experience this-
I got home safe, before the trains stopped. I only slipped in the snow twice, my many layers kept the fall from hurting at all. I spent the night drinking spiced wine and thinking how strange it was: Saturday night and the city that never sleeps was snowed in, hibernating.