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Broadway casts perform in the street during Manhattan blackout

New Yorkers respond with typical resilience as massive blackout hits Manhattan

NEW YORK: A power outage that gripped Manhattan ended on Saturday after it plunged Broadway theatres into darkness, brought subways to a halt and flicked off billboards in Times Square.

About 42,000 customers lost electricity in the early evening, according to power utility Con Edison, which did not indicate a cause for the power failure.

The power returned around 10pm (10am yesterday, Singapore time), accompanied by applause that could be heard throughout the formerly darkened streets.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that the outage was caused by a "manhole fire," but later told CNN it was under investigation.

When the massive blackout happened, a choir and the casts of Broadway musicals entertained tourists with impromptu performances in the street.

The outage struck around 7pm, as shows were starting at theatres in Midtown and at the Lincoln Center plaza on New York City's Upper West Side.

With subway stations and traffic lights suddenly dark, thousands of people spilled outside on a hot summer's night.

Some were surprised by what they found, including writer Briallen Hopper, who had been trapped on a subway train for an hour.

"I guess this is what they call a New York moment," she wrote on Twitter with a video of a choir singing at sunset.

"I emerged to see dark restaurants & traffic lights, civilians directing traffic, & an evacuated Carnegie Hall concert happening in the street."

CONCERT IN THE STREET

Another Twitter user, Caryn Ross, agreed, posting a video of the street concert by the Millennial Choirs and Orchestras with the hashtag #BeautifulSoundsDuringBlackout: "Now this is what turning lemons into lemonade is about!" she wrote.

Multiple civilians stepped into always-busy intersections to help direct traffic snarled by the lack of traffic lights.

A middle-aged man in shorts and a red tank-top managed the flow of vehicles at one junction for at least 45 minutes, drawing plaudits on social media.

In a photo on Twitter taken after darkness fell, one civilian was seen directing traffic in the Hell's Kitchen neighbourhood with a toy light saber.

At Madison Square Garden, the blackout put a sudden stop to a Jennifer Lopez concert, plunging the arena into darkness.

"I am obviously heartbroken and devastated," Bronx native Lopez said in a video clip she sent in a Twitter post for her fans. "I love you. I am so sorry this happened in the middle of our moment, at our show."

All Broadway theatres were closed due to the blackout except for the Winter Garden Theater, Nederlander Theater, and Lyceum Theatre, authorities said. But among those who entertained theatregoers with off-the-cuff performances nonetheless were the casts of the musicals Waitress, Hadestown, Come From Away, and Rock Of Ages.

One Twitter user named Antony posted video of the cast of Hamilton: An American Musical singing from theatre windows to the crowds in the street below. "It was awesome!" he wrote. - REUTERS, AFP

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