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Performances Of Off-Broadway Shows At The Theater Center Temporarily Called Off After Thieves Break In, Steal Copper Piping

By Alice Gainer

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    NEW YORK, New York (WCBS) — “Perfect Crime” — the Off-Broadway play — needs help solving an actual crime at its theater.

Someone broke in and stole something unexpected, causing tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage and temporarily closing shows and several businesses, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Monday.

“Perfect Crime” is a play about murder. But now The Theater Center on West 50th Street is an actual crime scene. There was a shattered door and bullet casings in the basement.

So what happened here?

“There was no water and heat Friday morning and when I went down to the basement … I turned the water on and I realized water was spraying everywhere because there were no pipes to fill the water,” Theater Center general manager Catherine Russell said. “I discovered that thieves had taken all the copper pipes.”

The building also houses another show: “The Office: A Musical Parody.”

Next door, at the newly opened speakeasy Nothing Really Matters, heat and water do matter. The business had to temporarily close.

“To all of a sudden have literally the guts of a building ripped out was, you know, a gigantic shock,” owner Adrien Gallo said.

It’s believed the thief or thieves broke in through the vacant restaurant next door to get to the basement. The copper pipes have since been replaced and the restaurant boarded up more securely.

But then Sunday, someone wearing knee pads tried to kick in The Theater Center’s door.

That, too, has since been replaced.

Normally, the seats would all be full on a Monday night, but the theater had to cancel about 12 performances between here and “The Office.” The show will go on Thursday.

Russell is both the general manager of The Theater Center and the lead actress in “Perfect Crime” since 1987.

“Almost 14,000 performances I’ve done,” Russell said.

She has only ever missed four performances, for her sibling’s weddings. She didn’t even miss a performance the day she got married.

“I got a weekend off and better piping and better security, so it has a happy ending,” she said.

So there is silver … or copper … lining, if you will. But Russell said she hopes the whodunnit is solved soon.

Copper thefts have been a growing problem for years due to the increased value.

So far there have been no arrests in the Off-Broadway thefts. It’s unclear why there were shell casings in the basement.

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