The shows go on: Tel Aviv theaters continue with locked doors amid terror attack

With terrorist still on the loose and people ordered to remain indoors, several shows continue with performances even as sirens wail outside

Actors from Habima Theater address the crowd after news of a terrorist attack at a nearby Tel Aviv bar on April 7, 2022 (Screencapture/Twitter)
Actors from Habima Theater address the crowd after news of a terrorist attack at a nearby Tel Aviv bar on April 7, 2022 (Screencapture/Twitter)

As a terrorist opened fire on a Tel Aviv bar on Thursday night, killing two people and wounding 10 others, several nearby theaters were in the midst of performances with packed audiences.

With the gunman still on the loose and the police ordering everyone to stay inside, they all made the same choice — continue with the show.

At Beit Lessin theater, just meters from the popular Dizengoff Street bars that were attacked, actors were in the middle of a performance of ‘The Wedding Plan’ when sirens began to wail outside.

“Very quickly everyone knew what was going on, including the audience,” actor Oz Zahavi told Channel 12. “We heard the police cars, the ambulances, the security forces, and all the noise.”

“We decided to continue the play because the entrances were guarded and the audience was not allowed to leave,” he said.

After the show was over, with cast members and the audience still unable to leave, they sang songs together, said Yael Elkana, another of the actors.

“We joined forces with the audience and stayed together with them. We began to sing to try and lift the mood,” she said.

Israeli security forces search for assailants near the scene of a terror attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

It was a similar situation in the nearby Habima, Israel’s national theater, where a large crowd was watching a performance of Yitzhak Navon’s Hebrew/Ladino classic ‘Bustan Sepharadi’ (Spanish Orchard).

As news of the attack began to spread through the crowd, many of them receiving notifications on their phones, actor Tal Mosseri came on stage to address the audience.

“In the name of Habima, we want to tell you that the incident is still continuing. We wish all of us better, calmer and quieter days.  We invite you to stay here in safety and security until we hear better news,” he said.

Mosseri told Channel 12 that at first, after hearing the gunfire and sirens, they were unsure whether to continue or not.

“As an actor leading this production, it’s not simple. Your job is to amuse and move people,” he said. “I also have family in Tel Aviv and everyone is worried, but in the end, the audience accepted us with a standing ovation.”

“The orders were to stay inside the theater and the entire audience stayed with us,” he said.

At the Heichal Menorah theater, Israel’s Eurovision entrant and several other competitors were giving a concert. There too, the show went on.

“A while ago there was a shooting attack in Tel Aviv and we can’t ignore what happened,” singer Michael Ben David said. “For the last song of the evening let’s celebrate music and get up on our feet.”

In one case where the show could not go on, organizers found a novel alternative.

Singer Moshe Peretz, who was due to perform at Hanger 11 in the port, had been staying in a hotel on Dizengoff Street at the time of the attack and could not leave.

Not wanting to disappoint the crowd, his brother Nir, who normally performs as one of his backup singers, went on instead.

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