Apparently my director went to see a production of West Side Story a few years ago, and the guy playing Chino forgot his gun before coming out for his final scene. Once it got to the big scene where he is supposed to shoot Tony, he screeched “Poison Boots” and kicked the actor playing Tony until he went down. The girl playing Maria then had to jerk the shoe off of Chino’s foot, and had to do the gunshot scene asking “How many kicks Chino? How many kicks, and one kick left for me”.
There should be a blog dedicated to theatrical urban legends. Like that opening weekend of Dracula where Dracula (still hungover) vomited all over the audience during the first stage direction that everyone has a friend of a friend that worked on the show and was there.
or the one where the bridge never came out for Javert’s suicide and so he just pretended to stab himself and then lay there until the lights went out
best story i heard was when a friend of mine saw a show where juliet forgot to bring the dagger out on stage so she just ripped the squib out of her chest and blood squirted everywhere
During a passion play a friend of my brother was supposedly in, one of the roman soldiers who was supposed to stab jesus on the cross and accidentally grabbed the wrong spear- he was supposed to grab one with a fake tip, but instead he grabbed one with an actual metal tip and, well
Jesus screamed “JESUS CHRIST YOU STABBED ME”.
Since that Jesus had to be taken down due to a bad case of stab-itis, the backup Jesus came in, but he weighed significantly less than the original Jesus- which would have been fine, except that at the end the cross was supposed to ascend upwards with Jesus on it, and the weights hadn’t been adjusted.
So Jesus, instead, ROCKETED UP into heaven (or, just, above the stage).
This is wild from start to finish
I was in Peter Pan once and one night at a performance, the adhesive holding our Hook’s mustache on was wearing off. It was near the end with a big fight scene and when he got attacked, he let his mustache fall and went “YOU RIPPED MY MUSTACHE OFF!” in a scandalized tone and it added a new note of hilarity to the whole scene (which was supposed to be funny anyway)
In my seventh grade play, which was a midsummer night’s dream, Thisbe didn’t have a sword so she stabbed herself with a coathanger
My junior year we were doing Romeo and Juliet and after Juliet poisons herself it was supposed to go dark and she’d get off the stage. well the light crew accidentally turned them back on and Juliet who was sitting up slammed back down on the wooden bed with a loud bang. To which my theater teacher says into the com “zombie Juliet” and everyone who heard that had to keep as quiet as possible while our eyes were filling with tears.
i attended my county’s performing arts high school majoring in vocal studies, (mostly geared towards musical theater and opera styles) and once a year we got a field trip to new york (we were in jersey, so it’s not exactly far). we would do one touristy thing, an actor’s workshop with friends of our teachers working in various performing industries in nyc, and then see a show.
my first year doing this, our industry contacts were 1 actor, 1 casting director, and 1 producer to get different aspects of the business, and they all gave us amazing advice and told fantastic stories. the actor in question was Zazu on Broadway’s The Lion King for several years, and told the best story by far.
in The Lion King, there are only two pieces of pre-recorded noise in the whole show. one, when Pumbaa does a MASSIVE fart while fighting the hyenas, and the other being Mufasa saying REMEMBERRRRRR as Simba climbs Pride Rock. the actor told us while struggling not to laugh that, during one night’s performance, someone forgot to flip the tape of these pre-recorded noises.
so, at the end of the show, the great climax where Simba finally accepts his place in the Circle of Life, the heavens parted and-
everyone froze. and then all ran off stage positively HOWLING with laughter.
the lesson: sometimes there are fuck ups you just can’t recover from.
During a high school production of Beauty and the Beast, where I was assistant costumer and assistant prop master, our director decided that we needed to spice up Gaston’s introduction. You know: in the movie, when Lefou runs in trying to catch the duck/goose that Gaston has just shot out of the sky?
Originally, the actors were going to stroll on stage with our Lefou hauling in the really neat (and real!) taxidermied deer head that we had found in a local thrift store. Now, two days before opening night, our director wants Lefou to run in from off stage and catch a stuffed duck that Gaston has just shot. This, of course, requires two things to work properly as a scene: a gunshot noise, and a stuffed duck.
The gunshot noise, we had covered. Blue-collar, redneck school? Guns a plenty to record. The stuffed duck? Harder than you might have thought to obtain.
Three hunting stores, two taxidermists, and one Pet Supply Store ™, I’d finally found a semi-realistic pheasant squeaky toy. What follows is an account of the ways this dog toy managed to be the nightmare prop of the six show run.
Opening Night: The stagehand, who was supposed to drop the bird from the ceiling catwalk, missed his cue and didn’t drop the it. Lefou’s actor rolls with it and does an excellent job of looking around foolishly before getting cuffed upside the head by Gaston. The stagehand then drops the bird squarely on Gaston’s head. Cue laughter.
Saturday Matinee: Different stagehand throws the bird instead of dropping it and beans Lefou directly in the face with the prop. Lefou falls over. Cue laughter.
Saturday Night: Bird is missing during curtain call. Director hauls the deer head down from it’s place on the tavern wall and tells Gaston and Lefou to revert to the old blocking i.e. no gunshot, no bird, just walk in with trophy. During Gaston and Lefou’s conversation, gun shot sound goes off and a stagehand throws the bird onto the stage…from the wrong side of the stage. Lefou and Gaston stare at it in awkward silence for a solid thirty seconds before Lefou makes off-script, subtle joke about Gaston’s gun going off late instead of early. Cue adults in the audience laughing.
Sunday Matinee: Director begs the stagehands to get the cue right at least once. Gunshot and bird prop go off without a hitch. Lefou accidentally catches the prop when it falls from the catwalk. He’s so startled that he caught it that Gaston runs right in to him. They drop both the gun and the bird props, and grab the wrong prop in their scramble. Gaston spends the rest of the scene gesturing dramatically with a stuffed pheasant, instead of a gun.
Director is fed up with bird prop, decides that Lefou should just carry bird prop in after gunshot happens off stage. Lefou accidentally squeezes the prop during the intro conversation, startling both actors into silence with the squeaky toy noise – apparently, neither of them realized it was a dog toy.
Monday Elementary School Show: Lefou walks on stage with the bird. Accidentally drops the prop during conversation with Gaston. Gaston doesn’t notice the dropped prop and steps on it. Cue depressingly sad squeaky toy noise. Cue ten years olds laughing.
I was in Twelfth Night during high school and we were lucky enough to have identical twin girls playing Viola and Sebastian. Due to the blocking in the first half of the play, their characters didn’t appear on stage together but rather almost consecutively one after the other for a majority of the first act.
It was awesome because when people saw the play and didn’t know the girls were identical twins, it literally looked like it was one actor doing multiple, uber fast costume changes.
One of our first performances was for our peers and it was a big school so lots of people didn’t know the twins. This – for some reason – was also the performance they chose to record.
Listening to the confusion of the audience during the playback was fantastic and completely topped by the moment Viola walked off stage left just as Sebastian walked on stage right and someone right beside the camera goes “OH WHAT THE FUCK” so loudly it drowned out everything else.
The best thing? That was the copy of the play that was made available for purchase by family and parents. Haha.
Oh my god. I went to one of the Spiderman shows where he flew out above the audience and then got stuck and had to awkwardly hang there for about 10 minutes, but these stories are brilliant.
okay so, my senior year of high school and I’m part of the stage crew for Peter Pan. There’s a scene where Hook and Smee are searching for Peter and the Lost Boys. Now the theater department at my high school isn’t very well funded (in the southern USA, football is king), so the sets we managed to make were pretty kickass for the money we had. We had a structure painted like a big tree stump for the entrance to the Lost Boys’ hideout. You could climb to the top of it, but also go inside it through a trap door that we kept locked up during most of the play.
It’s like our third show and everything has been going surprisingly well. Hook and Smee climb to the top of the “tree trunk”, supposedly looking for Peter and not knowing they’re standing above his hiding spot the whole time.
Turns out someone didn’t close the trapdoor properly, because the second Hook steps on it, he plunges through the thing. He’s able to catch himself, but he’s got his ass and one leg dangling through this hole where it’s like a ten foot drop to the ground. All of us stage crew are literally two feet away from him offstage, just gaping at him because???? Y’all this fall looked BAD. Looked like my dude did the splits in mid air. The whiplash caused his fucking wig to come off. The audience is dead silent, all of us backstage are dead silent, the director is like already looking up how to treat a broken groin.
The kid who was playing Hook was like a fuckin sophomore and he KILLED it. He gave himself a second to catch his breath, never broke character, just looked up at his castmate and growled “Smee, you fool, help me up!”. He ended up playing off the wig thing as an embarrassing comedic bit for Hook, and the play went on. He was completely fine. It was the best thing I’d ever seen.
There was an infamous performance of the opera Don Giovanni where in the last act Giovanni was suppose to be dragged into hell via trapdoor but the overweight actor got stuck, leading someone from the audience to shout: “Hey everyone, Hell’s full!!”
I’m pretty sure I’ve reblogged this before but the Lefou story has me in tears every time.