Building Evacuation Deals Unexpected Blow to Soho Repertory Gala
A compromised balcony at the Angel Orensanz Center forced the company to cancel its annual fundraising event.
Soho Repertory Theater's annual gala, held on Monday evening at the Angel Orensanz Center, took an unfortunate turn when one of the support beams of the second-floor balcony cracked, forcing patrons to evacuate the building. According to an on-scene member of the New York City Fire Department, a large crack was heard throughout the building at approximately 7:15pm, causing the floor of the balcony to sag. The Fire Department subsequently cleared the building, which was occupied by nearly 500 attendees. No injuries were reported.
"It could've been a lot of serious injuries," said Deputy Chief Jim Hodgens of the FDNY. "We were very fortunate that we were on the scene. We investigated, and again, a potential disaster was averted."
"The most important thing, obviously, is that the fire department did what they had to do, got people out and everybody's safe," said Cynthia Flowers, executive director of Soho Rep. "But it's just disappointing for us because it's such an important night for us and such a celebration for the company."
Some festivities did continue outdoors where guests were offered a marching band performance as well as a rendition of "Feel Alright" by singer-songwriter Steve Earle. However, the majority of the scheduled fundraising events were canceled, serving an unexpected blow to the company, which relies on its galas for annual fundraising. "I'm heartbroken," said the evening's honoree, Board Chair Jon Dembrow. "This is very damaging to the organization."
The company has said it will try to hold the fundraiser again at a later date, with the goal of raising $250,000.