On March 16, a few weeks ahead of its first scheduled performance, Emma Donoghue's Broadway play Room was indefinitely postponed. A "shortfall in capitalization" and "the withdrawal of a lead producer" were cited as the reason. The production was slated to officially open on April 17 and run through September 17.
Room stars Adrienne Warren and Ephraim M. Sykes, as well as choreographer Galen Hooks, shared their reactions to the news via an Instagram video on March 18. Warren opened the video by thanking those who had supported the production before it could even open, and stressing that the postponement was a surprise to all of the company. "We do not know what happened, we have no idea. As [the news] continues to unfold, I just want to publicly say, it is not a reflection on the beautiful souls in this piece. It is not a reflection on our creatives."
According to an article from the New York Times, Broadway producer Nathan Gehan withdrew his producing company, ShowTown productions, from Room due to a family crisis. This left a big financial hole in the production. Gehan told the Times that "to have to go through rehearsal and not have anything to show for it is just gut-wrenching.” In a Times interview, producer Hunter Arnold, who broke the news to the Room team on March 16, states that Gehan provided a list of "interested parties" to serve as back-ups for fundraising, but when the Room team reached out to each contact, no option "was neither viable nor sufficient to close the economic gap we were facing.” They were trying to raise $7 million total for the show, and reached out to over 200 people.
The company of Room will be paid for the rehearsal period, although it may take some time for the funds to trickle in, as the money is currently held in Signature Bank, which collapsed last Sunday and its assets have been seized by federal regulators.
On Instagram, Warren shared both devastation for the postponement, and hope for the future of the production: "We are completely heartbroken that we don't get to share this beautiful piece with all of you...not yet. We're going to say 'yet,' because we are hopeful that something will happen, and the universe will allow us to bring this to you in whatever way."
Warren, Sykes, and Hooks repeatedly emphasized how special the play was, expressing that they felt "healed" throughout the development of the production. "We were pouring our hearts and souls into something that meant so much to us, and still does," said Sykes. Room, which is based on Donaghue's novel of the same name, is about a woman who is kidnapped and locked inside of a room for seven years. She also has a son, Jack, who is a product of rape by the her captor. Warren was supposed to play the mom, and Sykes was going to play the adult superhero alter ego of her son, Jack.
Hooks, a commercial choreographer whose work largely involves television and film, shared what the production meant to her: “This was going to be my Broadway debut…this was the one. I can’t even describe…I’m not the same person I was two weeks ago. Every single day it was just bliss—the way we were using movement to tell the story in a completely new way, in a piece with a Black cast. I hope somewhere down the line you get to see the magic they were doing.”
Warren emphasized once more that the company is hoping that the production will be staged in the future. "We are all fighters, and we believe, and we have faith."