Hundreds of people who expected to catch a show at the Wang Theatre in Boston on Saturday night were in for an unexpected (and unpleasant) night when the record-low temperatures caused the venue's sprinkler system to break, sending everyone out into the bitter cold.
The theater was evacuated shortly before 5 p.m. Pictures from outside the Tremont Street building showed people bundled up in the sub-15 degree weather, and many on social media expressed outrage at how long it took for any announcement to be made.
The Boch Center confirmed on Twitter just before 7 p.m. that the Impractical Jokers shows scheduled for 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. had been rescheduled to Saturday, April 29.
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It was apparent the Boston Fire Department had responded to the scene, but there was initially very little information available on what had happened. More than six hours later, the Boch Center posted a lengthy explanation on social media, saying the initial fire alarm sounded at 4:50 p.m., prompting the building to be evacuated as staff and firefighters began searching for the source of the alarm.
According to a statement, Boch Center staff working with Boston firefighters discovered the break in the sprinkler system in the boiler room of the historic theatre. After assessing the damage to the system, the fire department and Boch Center staff concluded that it could not be quickly repaired.
"Our staff then made the decision to postpone all shows at 6:15 p.m. and contacted ticket holders," the statement continued.
But the Impractical Jokers crowd said they were outside with no explanation for much longer than that.
NBC10 Boston reporter Kirsten Glavin was at the venue and said she was among hundreds who had been standing outside in the freezing weather for more than 30 minutes with no explanation. Later she said that time had doubled.
"Unreal. An hour in the freezing cold with zero explanation. My family and I have to leave - we can’t take these temperatures," Glavin wrote in a tweet.
Several Twitter users also responded with anger to the Boch Center's tweet announcing the shows had been rescheduled, noting everyone's extended wait time in the extreme cold -- with no explanation and no apology immediately provided.
"Still no apology," Live Boston wrote.
"Took you far too long to cancel this with people outside in the record low temperatures," Kristen Marie replied.
"2+ hours to cancel. The 3,500 people outside freezing on a record cold night waiting on your 'momentarily' update appreciate your thoughtfulness and expediency," Jake Eman responded.
It also appeared that the Boch Center had deleted multiple tweets, prompting more anger from people who said they were waiting on an apology.
"This whole experience tonight was so frustrating and disappointing," Glavin said.
The Boch Center did later post an official statement and apology late Saturday night, saying they were forced to postpone the two sold-out shows following the burst sprinkler pipe caused by the record-setting cold that created similar issues at several buildings in the city's Theatre district.
"We profoundly apologize to all our patrons who were impacted by this, and we want to let you know exactly what happened," the venue said in an 11:17 p.m. tweet.
Comedian James "Murr" Murray also posted his own apology to his Twitter page following the debacle with his show, sharing a nearly 40-second video just after 8 p.m., several hours prior to the Boch Center's apology.
"So sorry to our Boston fans," he wrote in the tweet. "Stay warm tonight - we love you!"
"To all of our Boston fans, so sorry about tonight! We were five minutes from showtime, with a full theater, at the first show tonight, and the pipes burst from the cold in Boston and flooded the entire basement of the theater. Fire department evacuated the whole building, kicked us out, too, we were out in the cold with everyone, and they canceled the shows, and the fire department would not let us back in the building because of the emergency situation," Murr said in the video.
"We're rebooking the shows for the weekend of my birthday, so that's pretty cool," he added. "All your tickets will be good for then, if you can't make it you can get refunds don't worry about that. And I hope to see you guys there."
Previously purchased tickets will be honored on the new date/times, according to a tweet from the entertainment venue and confirmed by Murr. Refunds are also available for anyone who cannot attend the new date. Boch Center said ticket buyers were sent an email with refund information. Anyone with questions or concerns is asked to email the venue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home to the iconic Wang and Shubert Theatres, the Boch Center bills itself as the premiere destination for live entertainment in Boston.
According to its website, Murr and Sal, creators and stars of truTV’s hit show Impractical Jokers, were making stops in the city as part of their wild comedy tour. The DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE Tour, produced by Outback Presents and Live Nation, is said to consist of never-before-seen videos and storytelling stand-up.