Author: Ralph Katz
Date: 2006-12-31 23:43
1) A theater here has a very deep pit and had put mirrors on the house side so that the musicians could see the actors onstage. During a the first performance after they were put up, the anchors holding one of the mirrors pulled out of the concrete wall and the mirror fell onto a cello player, who was miraculously unscathed.
2) (different theater, same town) In "Annie Get Your Gun" there was a *very*good*looking* and excellent dancer, costumed to look like a Native American, dressed only in a loin cloth and about two quarts of body makeup. During one matinee performance, perhaps after having a good time at the previous night's cast party, whirling about, he lost track of the stage lip and went off the edge into the pit. At the last moment, realizing what was about to happen, he managed to get a toe-hold on the edge of the stage and pushed off as hard as he could. He landed just inside the railing on the house side of the shallow pit, and fell backwards onto the woodwinds. He knocked down a half dozen stands, but nobody and no instruments were hurt. The dancer immediately jumped back onto the stage. The musicians scrambled about to pick things up. But the conductor was totally spooked, until someone in the brass section shouted "Bar 237!". This snapped the conductor out of it; "yeah, 237," she said. She started the orchestra at bar 237, and everyone continued just where they had left off. The audience applauded wildly.
3) During an awful community theater production of "Fiorello", the set had these 3-sided towers on wheels. Every night we watched wide-eyed as the set crew rolled these things around the stage. One night, the crew almost dropped one into the pit and we were not surprised.
4) During a really good production of "Promises, Promises", there was a scene with a young lady, in bed, and her office lover. He keeps repeating, "I can't believe I did this" or something similar, until she says "Same time next week, Mr. Jones?" and he says "Sure." Then there is a laugh, blackout, music, and a scene change. One night, the lights didn't go down quite on cue, but at the appointed moment, the young lady jumped out of bed anyway. Apparently she had omitted several items of clothing, which was apparent only to orchestra members in the string section.
5) Some stagehand friends of mine were on the road with a drama, playing at a community theater in Frederick, MD. There were some difficulties, because the producers had not provided any local stagehands. The locals made enough of a weak showing, though, so that my friends finally mounted the show with minimum lights and sets. But afterwards there was nobody to help, and they had to be in Baltimore at 8AM the next morning. Finally at 4AM they had the truck loaded, only to find that the locals had chained the parking lot fence shut with their trucks inside. The truck driver just said "no problem", and pulled out a huge sledge hammer from under his truck. He gave each fence post a good whack or two right at the base. Then he drove his truck up slowly in the lowest gear, pushed the fence over, and they all drove out.