Broadway’s ‘West Side Story’ Postpones Opening Night Following Leading Man’s Onstage Knee Injury

Isaac Powell
Courtesy Production

EXCLUSIVE: Producer Scott Rudin is postponing the Feb. 6 Broadway opening of director Ivo van Hove’s much-anticipated West Side Story by two weeks after an onstage knee injury Friday left leading man Isaac Powell limping toward the end of the show.

“We’re postponing two weeks – from February 6 to February 20 – to give Isaac the chance to recover from an injury to his knee, so that he can have the same duration of preview playing period we’ve always had scheduled,” Rudin tells Deadline. “Luckily he is much braver than me and will be back and playing his full, remarkable show very shortly.”

The exact nature of the injury was not disclosed, but apparently occurred during the Friday Dec. 20 performance. Powell, who plays Tony – the male half of West Side Story‘s Romeo and Juliet tale – is expected to return for the Feb. 20 opening.

Powell’s stand-by Jordan Dobson will play the role until Powell returns.

‘West Side Story’ curtain call, first Broadway preview Julieta Cervantes

Powell is best known for his critically acclaimed performance as Daniel in the Tony Award-winning 2017 Broadway revival of Once On This Island (he got the role two months after graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts). He also appeared on last season’s Murphy Brown reboot on CBS, and was a Grammy Award nominee this year as part of the Once On This Island cast album.

Director Ivo van Hove’s re-imagining of the great musical – with all-new choreography by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker replacing the legendary moves of Jerome Robbins, and a multi-media production design by van Hove’s longtime collaborator Jan Versweyveld – began preview performances Dec. 10 at the Broadway Theatre. The first six previews sold out, grossing $1,254,440 (97% of the six-performance box office potential), and box office for its second week (ending Dec. 22) was $1,497,319 – a figure that surpassed the previous house record of $1,479,890 set in 2013 by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and did so with one fewer performance: West Side Story hit the nearly $1.5M mark with seven preview performances, compared to Cinderella‘s eight show record.

The West Side Story production also is expected to be the subject of a year-in-the-making 60 Minutes segment, currently set to air Feb. 16, a high-profile bit of national exposure similar to the one that added considerable box office power last June to Rudin’s already-successful To Kill A Mockingbird. The 60 Minutes segment, quoted frequently in the print and TV ad campaigns for Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of the Harper Lee novel, was “by a mile the biggest thing that ever happened to Mockingbird,” Rudin says.

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