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Arts venues deal with Henri

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After Saturday night’s performance of “Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Story,” Goodspeed workers descended on the outdoor tent in East Haddam where shows have been happening all summer.

“We had an all-hands-on-deck situation where a lot of people who might not have been there at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night showed up, and we emptied the tent of anything that was likely to blow away in the winds that were predicted. The tent itself is rated to 90 miles per hour, so we didn’t have to drop that,” Goodspeed Musicals Artistic Director Donna Lynn Hilton said on Sunday.

They did, though, open the sides to allow the wind to blow through.

Goodspeed also encouraged everybody to leave the theater’s campus (some returned home to New York City, for instance), so only two people were left on Sunday.

Another potential issue is the Goodspeed rehearsal studio, which flooded during a freak storm in 2018. That storm brought down about 5 inches of rain in a couple of hours, causing a flash flood. A brook usually flows under the rehearsal studio. In this case, a tree broke a window in the studio, and water flooded the back room, ironically called the Waterfall Room. The water was rushing so quickly that the Waterfall Room filled with 4 to 5 feet of water that eventually blew off the doors to the main rehearsal room and then the doors to the outside. It swept away everything; a piano was floating on the stream banks and sound equipment ended up a half-mile away.

Ultimately, Hilton noted, the brook water comes from upstream of Goodspeed, so there’s not much they can do but watch and wait.

“My next big concern is power,” Hilton said. “If we lose power at the Opera House, we have a generator, but we can’t use that generator out where we are at the tent (in the Goodspeed parking lot).“

The next performance of “Little Girl Blue” is scheduled for Wednesday night.

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook had less to do than Goodspeed, taking down its patio tent and postponing two shows that had been scheduled for Sunday.

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, meanwhile, is lucky in that it wrapped its summer performance season before Henri hit. All the lighting and sound equipment donated by PRG that transformed the outdoor amphitheater into a concert venue was returned to New York City Friday in four tractor trailers.

Hygienic’s ‘Salon des Independants’

Saturday night on Bank Street in New London, activities were already impacted hours before Henri arrived. At Hygienic Art, where the facility was celebrating the opening of its “Salon des Independants” exhibit — normally held in January and postponed due to the pandemic — attendance was down, though a large crowd was gathered in the Art Park for the tangential “Hygienic Rock Fix” multi-band concert.

Inside the gallery, Hygienic President Vinnie Scarano said, “Even though the Sunday after the opening is traditionally a big day, we’re not going to open (today) because of Henri. It’s a shame because we have a blockbuster week of activities associated with the show and other events in the Art Park, and we’ve just started getting some momentum. So we’re hoping for the best with this storm.”

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