New York skyline: How Broadway performances, including Jodie Comer show, were cancelled due to smog from Canada wildfires
The mantra on Broadway is the show must go on, with actors forcing themselves to perform in the most extreme circumstances.
However, the devastating smoke from Canadian wildfires, which have engulfed the east coast of North America, resulted in the cancellation of some New York shows, including hit music Hamilton, as actors struggled with breathing problems.
Millions of people across North America are being advised to wear high-grade masks outdoors and limit outdoor activity as smoke from the fires in Canada continued to blanket the East Coast.
The Environment Protection Agency described the air quality in New York as "unhealthy". The pollution is expected to continue into the weekend, after which rain is expected, which should clear the air.
Much of the smoke is coming from the Canadian province of Quebec, where around 150 fires are blazing. Firefighters have been sent from the US to offer help. In the areas close to the fires, more than 10,000 citizens have been evacuated.
New York topped the list of most polluted major cities in the world earlier this week, due to the heavy smog that turned the skies orange, while the Canadian city of Ottawa was also badly affected. New York city authorities said they would begin to distribute one million free masks to residents from Thursday as the smoke and smog from the fires intensified.
Hundreds of New York flights were also delayed due to the pollution, while several sporting events, including the New York Yankees game, were postponed.
Killing Eve star Jodie Comer began the Wednesday matinee performance of her one-woman show, Prima Facie, before stopping ten minutes in, saying she was struggling to breathe – and was replaced by an understudy. She returned for the later performance on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Hamilton was cancelled for its 8pm run, due to cast members calling in sick as a result of the thick smog clouding New York City.
“Tonight’s performance of Hamilton will not go on as scheduled,” Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesman for the production, said. “The hazardous air quality in New York City has made it impossible for a number of our artists to perform this evening.”
Comer reportedly stopped during the performance, coughing and telling staff she could not “breathe this air”.
"Today's matinee of Prima Facie was halted approximately ten minutes into the performance after Jodie Comer had difficulty breathing due to the poor air quality in New York City because of smoke from the Canadian wildfires," a spokesperson for the production told The Hollywood Reporter.
Weather and natural disasters have previously forced the entirety of Broadway to “go dark”. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the area and theatres shut down for four days, while in January 2016, the Broadway League cancelled all shows because of a major snowstorm.
In 2007, a strike of stage hands saw shows shut down, while, like theatres across the world, Broadway was forced to close during Covid lockdowns over the past three years.
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