The Royals making the World Series feels a little like a blizzard or an ice storm: It has the potential to shut down parts of the city.
For performing arts groups and other entertainment venues, this week’s games are expected to bring drops in ticket sales, small audiences and just plain no-shows.
“Are we expecting full houses? No,” said Eric Rosen, Kansas City Repertory Theatre artistic director. “We’re definitely embracing this historic week and working hard to ensure that our audience can enjoy the games and the show.”
The Rep will perform previews of “The Who & the What” during the first two games Tuesday and Wednesday. The official opening is Friday night, which overlaps the third game.
To attract more sales, the Rep has dreamed up a few incentives: Free beer for subscribers and discounts for single tickets on game nights, for example.
“You just kind of have to roll with it,” Rosen said. “We’ll have the game on during intermission. The show is relatively short, so they should be able to get home and see the end of the game. And it’s an intimate show. It will play just as well in front of 100 people as it would with 300.”
The Kansas City Symphony, however, is “full steam ahead” with its classical concerts scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, said Jeff Barker, marketing director.
“Our orchestra and music director Michael Stern are all huge Royals fans, so look for some conversation from the stage, surprises and score updates,” Barker wrote in an email.
He added that sales are doing well so far for the performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Scottish,” with pieces by Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner.
Hollywood rarely releases major movies during big sports weekends — the Super Bowl or World Series — or during Halloween. And with the Royals in the series, KC area movie theaters will be especially empty, predicts Jerry Harrington, owner of the Tivoli Cinemas in Westport.
“We still get people but just not many,” he said.
He has been through this before — in 1985, the last time the Royals made it to the World Series.
“It was death,” Harrington said with a laugh. “You gotta be open. Most people care, but maybe they’re not all going to watch the game.”
A TV in the Tivoli lobby will be showing the game, but Harrington won’t even look.
“My rule is if I don’t watch it they’ll win,” he said. “And so far that’s been true. … I’m terribly excited, but I have this power, and I have to stay away.”
Barnaby Bright, a Nashville-based indie folk duo scheduled to perform at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village on Friday, decided not to go head-to-head with the Royals and canceled its show (it’ll be rescheduled for Oct. 9, 2015).
Artistic director Cynthia Levin counts herself as a “huge” Royals fan. In her view she has only one choice: accept reality.
“There is absolutely nothing to be done,” she said. “If people want to watch that game live and not DVR it at home, we’re screwed. I can only hope the Royals win quickly.”
On the other hand, she said, the vibe in Kansas City is palpable.
“I have never seen the city rally around something like this,” she said. “All we need is 90 minutes of your time to see this show. I always figured I was lucky we didn’t do outdoor theater because I didn’t have to worry about the weather. Now I have to worry about the Royals again.”
American Jazz Museum CEO Greg Carroll said the playoff game during the recent Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival could have contributed to the audience being a little down this year. But the area also had several days of rain leading up to the outdoor festival, and several other events around town were scheduled the same weekend, one traditionally staked out by the festival.
“We’re in a different time today, where concertgoers, sports fans and the community in general are all being pulled in different directions by multiple events,” he said. “It just shows we’re a growing city.”
J. Kent Barnhart, executive director of Quality Hill Playhouse, counts himself a major baseball fan. He has nightly obligations as emcee and pianist for “Cheek to Cheek: The Songs of Fred Astaire,” the theater’s current production. He plans to record the games and watch when he gets home.
“So I’ll be up there happily playing the piano, begging people not to tell me the score,” he said.
During the ALDS, Barnhart said, some patrons were listening to games with earbuds. He knew because the broadcast was clearly audible from the stage.
So the show will go on, with one caveat.
“If the Royals go one, two, three, I’ll cancel myself because nobody else will be there anyway,” he said.
The Star’s David Frese, Kathy Lu and Sharon Hoffmann contributed to this report.
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