- Associated Press - Friday, August 26, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - The threat of Hurricane Irene is forcing Broadway to wrestle with closing theaters for the weekend.

The Broadway League, the national trade association, said early Friday that all Broadway shows this coming weekend were playing as scheduled. The Off-Broadway League also said it was unaware of any show cancellations.

But organizers of The New York International Fringe Festival, which has been offering almost 200 small shows downtown over the past few weeks, canceled all events on Saturday and Sunday, including its closing night party.

After city officials announced Friday afternoon that New York’s transit system will shut down beginning Saturday afternoon, other closings followed.

Disney Theatrical Productions announced that it was canceling performances of both “Mary Poppins” and “The Lion King” on Saturday and Sunday.

Irene is expected to hit North Carolina’s coast sometime Saturday and track up the East Coast. The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane watch for New York City, and the storm is expected to come closest to the city sometime Sunday.