| Standing Ovation |

Cut Your Losses

The show must go on — but only when Hashem wants it to. Stay safe and healthy

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here’s a famous saying in show biz that the show must go on. These days, however, we’ve learned the hard way that that’s not always the case. Coronavirus has ensured that all public gatherings have been canceled or postponed — but it’s not the first time.

In my years as producer and concert organizer, I can list off a number of concerts that were postponed for various reasons, either because of the weather, the health of the performer, or (a little more embarrassing) lack of ticket sales or interest. But there have also been a fair share of concerts canceled due to unforeseen world events.

One of those was an Avraham Fried scheduled in a huge outdoor arena in Ashkelon. The show was completely sold out and Avremel had already done the rehearsal for the show, when suddenly there was a report of missiles being fired toward Ashkelon from Gaza. For good reason, the government immediately canceled the concert, but it turned out there were a bunch of people who hadn’t heard about the cancelation and had already made their way to the arena. They were naturally dismayed to hear about the cancelation. But as they were leaving the venue, all those would-be concert-goers joined together in song in their own makeshift concert, their voices rising to the tunes of all the songs they could remember on the spot. Baruch Hashem, no missiles were fired, but when Avremel repeated the story to me, he said this was a true example of a concert that was a “real bomb.”

Speaking of bombs, In January 1991, MBD had a concert planned marking his 18th year in the music business. The celebration was to take place at the Westbury Music Fair, with two shows planned. The first went on as scheduled, but the next one was canceled when then-president George H. W. Bush announced the start of Operation Desert Storm (the First Gulf War). Although we weren’t anticipating any bombs in New York, the event was not allowed to go on.

A decade later, the 9/11 catastrophe basically shut New York down for a full two months. Dedi was supposed to hold a concert at Brooklyn College, but when they closed down the college, the promoters, with permission from the city, allowed Dedi to do his concert in the Rose Castle in Williamsburg instead. What can I tell you — it was a big mistake. There were more people onstage than in the audience. A much smarter decision would have been to cancel it and cut their losses.

The extreme limit on guests and venues of weddings these days reminds me of a chasunah that took place about 20 years ago. The chuppah didn’t wind up taking place in someone’s living room or backyard or by the vegetable aisle of a supermarket, as was the case with a Jerusalem wedding last week (the supermarkets allow for more people to congregate), but it was still a scramble.

A cousin of mine was making a wedding in a hotel in Westchester, but two weeks prior to the wedding, the health inspectors came down to the hotel and shut it down. The baalei simchah had already sent out invitations, so they went ahead and arranged a meeting with the health inspectors, in an attempt to come up with a solution. The inspectors agreed to give the hotel a second chance, along with an entire laundry list of things that would have to be fixed in order for the hotel to be able to reopen. But the hotel failed its second inspection too.

My cousin, in a state of desperation after being told that two inspections was the limit, decided that the only course of action was to actually go ahead and buy the hotel. That way there would be a chance for another inspection. The inspection took place the day before the wedding. And this time…. it failed again! Immediately, the caterer suggested to move the wedding to the Ryetown Hilton. It was too late to notify all the guests (this was prior to email), so they hired buses to transport them to the new venue. And the wedding even started on time.

The moral of all this is that the show must go on — but only when Hashem wants it to. Stay safe and healthy.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 804)

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