California

A wet night out. What caused pipe to leak on Blue Man Group audience in California?

Fresno city officials said they believe they were able to minimize damage to Saroyan Theater on Thursday after a pipe carrying water in the ceiling began leaking onto the audience during a concert.

The Blue Man Group was about 18 minutes into their show when a flex joint in the water pipes failed, ending a performance from the Las Vegas headliners, according to city spokesperson Mark Standriff. Initially, crews believed the water was coming from the fire suppression unit.

No injuries were reported and none of the performance equipment seemed to be damaged, Standriff said. Some of the theater’s framework is aging.

“That’s the original infrastructure that was built 53 years ago,” he said. “These things happen from time to time. It wasn’t a huge breakdown.”

A plumber was called in Thursday night, Standriff said, to fix the problem at the theater, which is owned by the city of Fresno and managed by a company called SMG.

Audience members were asked to exit the building and wait in the plaza just outside of Saroyan Theater. Eventually the Fresno Fire Department arrived and evacuated the venue as a precaution.

Damages are estimated to be less than $10,000, Standriff said, and the Fresno Philharmonic is expected to perform in the theater on Sunday. Crews removed damaged insulation on Friday.

“We don’t think any of the Sheetrock or ceiling tiles have been compromised,” Standriff said.

The electrical system was entirely spared from damages, Standriff said, which means the city avoided more expensive repairs. The entire water system is being tested on Friday.

The Fresno Fire Department does routine inspections on the building but it wasn’t immediately clear the last time it had been checked, Standriff said.

A firefighter responding Thursday night said there had been a water leak recently in the adjacent Exhibit Hall.

The Blue Man Group was on its second straight night of performing in Fresno when the show was interrupted.

Brittany Smith, director of regional marketing for the show, said refunds will be issued in the same method of payment in which customers purchased tickets.

Season subscribers, group purchasers, and ticket holders who purchased through Ticketmaster.com and Ticketmaster’s phone line will receive a refund from their point of purchase in three business days.

Those who purchased tickets at the Fresno Convention Center box office can bring their tickets to the box office and have a refund issued through the same method of payment that was used.

This is the second time in a month there has been an issue during a show at Saroyan Theater. Last month, some fans complained of audio problems when comedian Jo Koy performed at the venue.

The venue underwent expansions in 1981 and 1999, and seats a maximum of 2,353 people, though only half of the venue was full Thursday.

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.
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