Hot Show, "Cabaret,'' Center of Hot Zone Kit Kat Klub May Be Closed by City up to Four Weeks

Following last week's construction accident at Four Times Square, Broadway shows and Times Square businesses have struggled with city mandated closures to protect public safety. Hardest hit was Broadway's hottest show, "Cabaret," at the Kit Kat Klub. The Kit Kat Klub is at the epicenter of the hot zone, said a representative of the Mayor's Office.

It may be weeks before "Cabaret" reopens. On Fri., July 24, Back Stage asked New York City Buildings Commissioner Gaston Silva how long the Kit Kat Klub would be closed.

"Good question," Silva said. "We'll have to reassess the situation. I don't think it will be months, but it could be weeks. We'll have to see."

On Mon., July 27, the collapse zone surrounding the 48-story damaged construction scaffold at the Condƒ Naste Building was the scene of a second collapse.

At approximately 2:27 pm, an object described by the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management as a "beam," fell directly onto the roof of the Kit Kat Klub.

This second incident of debris falling from the scaffold comes on the same day that traffic reopened on Broadway, just a half block to the west of the tower.

Silva confirmed that the damaged scaffolding tower may have to come down, although this has yet to be decided.

On the morning of Mon., July 27, traffic was running again on Broadway and Seventh Avenue through Times Square. Broadway's reopening was necessary before the Roundabout Theatre could reopen, city officials said.

In fact, the casts of "Side Man" and "You Never Can Tell" held a press outside the Roundabout on Tues., July 28, at 6:30 pm to commemorate the reopening of both shows. A well-rested Robert Sean Leonard, currently in "You Never Can Tell," mugged for cameras and joked that he didn't enjoy his surprise week off due to the theatre's closing. Fellow cast member Katie Finneran recalled returning to the theatre on the day of the first collapse and arguing with a policeman . "Excuse me," she told the officer, "but I have to perform tonight.'' The officer, who would not let her into the Roundabout, explained the crisis.

The Time Square closures followed the collapse of a personnel hoist/scaffold tower in a construction accident at Four Times Square. An elderly woman was killed at the Woodstock Hotel and at least a dozen people were injured, many of them while evacuating the Woodstock. A memorial service for Thereza Feliconio was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Tues., July 28.

Four shows were closed due to safety concerns: "Cabaret," "Side Man," "You Never Can Tell," and "Smoke on the Mountain."

Roundabout Theatre Company, which produces "Cabaret" at the Kit Kat Klub at 124 W. 43rd St., was said to have been grossing almost $300,000 a week since the revival opened in February.

The accident on July 21 forced "Cabaret"'s closing at a point when two actresses in the hit show, Mary Louise Wilson and Natasha Richardson, were looking forward to giving their final performances.

"They're very upset," said Roundabout spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown. "There's a real sense of closure in a final performance, it's a big high. And don't forget, you have [cast replacements] Blair Brown and Jennifer Jason Leigh ready to go."

Bryan-Brown said "Cabaret"'s full cast, including Blair Brown and Jennifer Jason Leigh, continues to rehearse at Roundabout's W. 45th St. rehearsal studio.

"We're waiting for more information," he explained. "Right now, there's nothing else to do. It's ironic that the biggest show in years has been shut down by civic action. There's been a lot of conjecture that the show may close down completely but that hasn't even been considered. There has been some discussion of moving and lots of suggestions, but Roundabout is basically waiting for more information on the situation in order to gauge responsibly what to do."

Other theatre-related businesses saw changes in volume. Sales at TKTS, which is run by the Theatre Development Fund, were off somewhat last week, as much as 20%, although specific figures were not available. One report cited an increase in lunch business at Sardi's following certain office building closures.

Meanwhile, as the city slowly returns to normal following the construction accident, the broad scope of the crisis became clear. On Fri., July 24, insurance claim processing began through Liberty Mutual, which is the umbrella policy provider for Tishman Construction, the construction manager for the new Condƒ Naste Building at Four Times Square. By the end of the day, $16,000 in checks had been cut to Times Square residents in need of emergency shelter and clothing.

John Cusolito, spokesman for Liberty Mutual, said that businesses should bring in documentation supporting their claim of business interruption. Processing of residential or business claims can begin immediately.

"Any business owners, theatre owners, deli owners, clothing store owners, etc., should come to the Liberty Mutual Claims Center," Cusolito said. Business owners can also call Liberty Mutual at (800) 793-2797. As of Monday afternoon, July 27, approximately 500 calls had been received by the claims center, and 275 claims had been processed. In all, a combination of 230 residents and business owners had received settlement amounts totaling $80,000.

The cause of the accident has not been determined. There has been speculation about a crane damaging the tower, or that there were bolts missing from the scaffold. Each contractor on a site must carry its own insurance and, in case of an accident, resolution is often achieved through subrogation. Tishman Construction is the overseer--the Construction Manager or CM--on the Condƒ Naste Building. Tishman's umbrella policy is written by Liberty Mutual, which has been the only company visibly stepping forward to handle claims. On Friday, neither Tishman nor Liberty Mutual could provide the name of the insurer for Universal Builders Supply (UBS), the Mount Vernon-based company that built the scaffold that was damaged. Calls to Kevin O'Callahan at UBS were not returned by press time.