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 coathangerMy 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.
In a dress rehearsal for Peter Pan, Wendy forgot one of her lines and started singing the star spangled banner and the audience was singing along and people got emotional
Once during the closing night of our high school production of south pacific, we were havin our pre-show pep talk, and our director reminded everyone (mostly seniors) not to go off script to try to be funny. Of course we had one lead who decided to ignore this advice. So during one scene where the sailors were “fishing” at the edge of the stage, he decides to pull up his rubber fish, make a comment about how it wasn’t big enough, and throw it back into the “ocean”, which of course, was the audience.
Now, this probably wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if he had gently tossed it, since it would have landed right behind the pit. But naturalt, he decided that this fish had to break free in the most dramatic way possible, so he winds up and chucks this fucking foot-long rubber fish with all of his strength.
So now imagine the stage crew, all of us huddled together, silently screaming as this limp fish goes sailing over the heads of the audience in what looks like a low-budget reenactment of free willy, only to slap some poor parent across the face.
I swear, you could almost hear the chorus of “mmmm whatcha saaayyy” rising from all those backstage.
From that moment on, all rubber fish were ferociously guarded by yours truly, under the direction of our stage manager.
This post gets better every time it shows up on my dash
My Junior year of high school our drama club put on Peter Pan,which involved the construction of a small boat fashioned out of scrap wood,plaster and an old wagon. A few of the actors who were cast as pirates had to ride the boat-wagon down the aisle to the front of the theatre,which had a concrete floor that sloped. About halfway down the brake they were using to control their speed gave out,and they crashed into the front of the stage at high speed.The entire boat imploded. The actors just sat there in silence for at least a full 10 seconds in the midst of the wreckage before my friend Adena screamed “ABANDON SHIP” and they all jumped out and took off running.
We did Legally Blonde at my highschool last year, and there were a few slip-ups, but a few of my favorites involve Callahan improvising an entire verse and MAKING IT RHYME because he forgot the words, and one time in Legally Blonde Remix, Elle forgot Bruiser, so for the line “Hand me my dog! (Dog!) Hand me my bag! (Bag!)” She improvised with “Where is my dog!? (Dog!) Gimme my bag! (Bag!)” And we got a laugh, it was great.
I was doing a college production of Godspell, and one night at rehearsal, Jesus dropped a fog machine on his foot and had to go to the emergency room. We still had several hours with nowhere to be, so the disciples and the angels went to a guest lecture on the importance of foreplay.
In high school we did a showing of Les Mis, and built a revolving stage. It worked… Sorta. After Fantine’s death and right before The Confrontation with Javert and Valjean, the stage is supposed to slowly revolve so Javert can enter. Well the stage did revolve, so fast that Fantine was forcefully rolled out of the bed on stage. But she was “dead” so she couldn’t move. Instead, she laid there and when the stage revolved again, she just sort of had to roll off and out of sight.
Years ago, I was in a production of Sweeney Todd. We’d built up the set in the classic fashion that is- a rotating cube with Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop on the bottom and Todd’s barber shop at the top. In the center of the top floor there’s a chute for Sweeney’s victims. Generally they’d just slide down the chute after their ‘death’ – assisted by a kindly stage hand- and slip out the back through the curtain.
Now, it’s dress rehearsal and everything is going seemingly well until Act 2. When it comes time for Beedle Bamford to meet his demise, he trips inside the cube and literally comes crashing through the wall- taking the entire right side of the set down with him.
Yes, Beedle Bamford brought the house down.