March 16, 2012

A Message from Michael Maso in the Aftermath of the Great Back Bay Blackout

As most of you know the power outage in the Back Bay had Huntington Avenue as its epicenter, and as a result we lost the Tuesday preview and Wednesday opening night performances of Ma Rainey. In addition to the BU Theatre our administrative operations and key servers were shut down, leaving us without any email or box office capability. Many of us used the Calderwood Pavilion as a base of operations for the past few days, with tables in the upper lobby and nomadic staff members at makeshift stations with iPads and phones plugged in everywhere.

Early yesterday morning we realized that we were at risk of losing Thursday night's performance as well, and so I reached out to the Mayor's office for help getting a generator from NStar. Thanks to the Mayor's office and to NSTAR a generator arrived just before 1 PM at the BU Theatre and power was restored to the BUT at 5:00 last night! With a heroic effort by cast and crew and staff we were able to have a full performance last night starting at 8:00 PM — only 30 minutes late, though box office systems were still incapacitated.

While Sondra Katz and Todd Williams were the key point people for most of us, the department heads contacted the rest of the staff. Peter and the rest of the Artistic department plowed ahead with key season planning meetings while General Management kept our artists in the loop and as comfortable as possible, with one show in suspension and another in rehearsal.

As usual it was our Production Manager Todd Williams who was on the call in the wee hours of this morning when full power was finally restored and shortly afterwards working with EMF and our audience services team to get the box office up and running. Production staff continued to prep for our next show as much as possible and of course were on call at the theatre as our power was in the process of being restored by generator yesterday and quickly got the show restored in the BUT.

Marketing, development, audience services and front of house kept our communications open to audience and donors alike — much of it through our Facebook account but also by being at the theatre to greet those few who didn't get the cancellation notices — with the result that when we did decide to go ahead last night we had a great house full of happy people delighted that we were able to get the show back and running!

At the present time things are better — our box office systems are up and running on-line, and our inbound phone services are finally working in the box office as well as our administrative offices. Moving forward, press is being encouraged to come to the show beginning tonight and so reviews should be forthcoming beginning Monday morning. Many thanks to our remarkable staff, so many of whom maintained key operations over the past few days, to those who stood by to be ready to restore systems once power came back, to the Pavilion staff for being gracious hosts during the invasion from Huntington Avenue. The truth is that every staff member we have who had an opportunity to contribute did so admirably and with great energy and commitment, as they always do. Peter and I know how fortunate we are to have a staff with such deep reserves of dedication, integrity and sheer professionalism.

Very warmest regards,

No comments: