A most embarrassing moment
Thursday night I was late for the Duke Collegium dress rehearsal. I hustled into Nelson Music Room and discovered that, in front of an actual audience no less, the singing had already begun!
The stage is up two tall stairs and I was wearing clogs. I hurled myself towards the music. I tripped on the first step, then on the second step, fell to my knees, kind of bounced, and helplessly rolled over on my back between the conductor and the other singers.
In my younger life I would have died of embarrassment. In this, my second-half-century, I merely mouthed "sorry" at the astonished (but smiling) conductor, assumed my position, and joined the already-in-progress 'Jesu meine Freude.'
"Nice full-body roll" whispered my friend in the tenor section behind me.
Not only did I not die of embarrassment; armed with my second-half-century mantra, Nothing Is Wasted, I thought it provided a memory which would amuse me in days to come. As it has. And though my back hurt the next day, it proved I am built of sturdy stuff. I bounced but I didn't break.
Sometimes Not Just Curtains Fall Onstage
Martha Plimpton heard a thud. When she turned and saw her "Coast of Utopia" co-star Richard Easton prone on the stage floor during the second preview, she presumed he had merely tripped. But Ethan Hawke, who had seen Mr. Easton collapse, said he "thought Richard had passed away." The Lincoln Center audience that night in October did not respond, thinking that the moment was part of the show, especially since Mr. Easton’s character had just finished a fiery diatribe that ended with "That is my last word."
In "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" when [Cerveris] slammed a door on a night with member of the press in the audience, a huge chunk of the back wall suddenly collapsed.
"There were loose wires and Christmas lights and debris with nails sticking out," Mr. Cerveris recalled. But Hedwig’s life was "a catalog of disasters, anyway," he said, and the intimate, campy show had room for ad-libbing. So after ascertaining that the musicians onstage had (barely) escaped injury, Mr. Cerveris turned to the audience and deadpanned, "If I could survive the Titanic, I certainly can survive this."
Some performers take the "show must go on" attitude no matter what: Eylon Nuphar, a creator of "Be," the new "Stomp"-with-dancing import, says her show always goes full speed ahead — as it did in Madrid, when she was briefly knocked unconscious in a collision with another actor ("the cast improvised around me") and when fireworks set the curtain on fire.
"We didn’t stop drumming for a second," she said, "even though the audience wasn’t looking at us anymore, and the plastic smell wasn’t excellent."