“The show must go on” has become almost a trite expression, but a recent experience at the Rochester JCC breathed new life into the once tired phrase.
A recent outbreak of bomb threats, made with the intent to cause fear, has hit Jewish Community Centers. Even after two such incidents, a JCC in Rochester, New York, opened its doors to anyone in the area needing a place to shower, swim, exercise, eat, stay warm after two storms downed power lines and trees causing mass outages for days. Gym bags were not checked, nor identification cards looked at by guards. Welcome. Be warm. Stay. Use resources. This is the snowbelt area with an average of over 100 inches of snow a year, and March is the worst month.
Among the activities at that JCC is a theatre with talented local performers called JCC CenterStage. Ticket prices are kept low enough for those with tight budgets to see live productions. On March 19, 2017, my husband and I took a grandson to see The Flick. The show spanned over two and a half hours, and about five minutes before the show was set to end, the lights flashed warnings, and a gentleman entered the doors from the lobby telling all of us to leave the building. Many in the audience had walkers but no one rushed to push the slower moving audience members out of the way.
This matinee performance had been cancelled on March 12th when a second bomb threat again caused the JCC to be evacuated; it took a few hours to give an all-clear. It was announced that final scheduled showing of The Flick would be completed outside in the parking lot.
Police cars and fire trucks had arrived. Parents holding children in still-wet swimsuits moved through the doors into the lot; a clown making balloon sculptures entertained. In their short-sleeved costumes, the actors stood in the crowded parking area, got right back into character, and completed the performance. Without even the stage-set, these dedicated actors also stood in the cold living the phrase “the show must go on.”
Did they realize that they passed on an important lesson that had nothing to do with speech and drama? Even during fear, we need to get back into the characters our own lives portray, and brave the cold together.
This story "The Show Must Go On: How One JCC Made The Most Of A Bomb Threat" was written by Lois Greene Stone.