There is nothing quite like being onstage, in the middle of a scene/song, and suddenly from backstage, you hear a big crash of some sort.
There is not a thing you can do about it.
All you can do is wonder until you get offstage and can find out WTF is going on.
I have two recollections of this happening to me.
First was senior year of high school.
We were doing the Pajama Game.
I’m onstage (I played Mabel) – doing a cross, in front of the curtain – where I am supposed to meet up with our Babe (played by the lovely and talented Sharon (nee Lake)).
I start my cross.
I continue my cross – and notice Sharon is missing.
I slow down my cross.
It is becoming the slowest stage cross in the history of JGHS.
Finally, here comes Sharon.
Her hair is going every which way.
She has a huge run in her stockings.
And her sweater is on backwards.
Turns out she ran into some set pieces in the hallway that runs behind the stage, on her way to a quick change.
And my line is, “Hi ya, Babe.”
And she says, “Hi ya, Mabel.”
A theater moment well worth Sharon almost killing herself over, don’t you think?
Then, during my years at the Fischer Opera Haus (where we did a Gay Nineties revue for several years in Frankenmuth), we had a stage hand who needed a night off.
The director decided he’d step in.
Now this director is the one who taught me there are three things that don’t belong onstage – children, animals and directors.
Turns out, directors shouldn’t be allowed backstage either.
We were going into the end of the show.
Again the curtain is down.
There is supposed to be a big set change behind the curtain.
A big set change that has never been an issue before – even though they had to move a fucking gazebo off the stage and move a piano onto the stage.
I start my little intro piece and …
KA-RASH, BOOM – the curtain behind me starts billowing.
I start slowing down my intro – because obviously something is going on.
But you can only slow down so much, and eventually, I get to the end of my little speech.
The curtain does not go up.
I’m standing there in front of God (whom I don’t believe in) and everybody with nothing more to say.
Finally, very slowing the curtain rolls up (it was a drop curtain).
With great trepidation, I look behind me.
Everyone is in place, standing very stiffly with grimaces (which I assumed were supposed to be smiles) plastered on each face.
There was also a great deal of sweat present.
Everyone was simply frozen tightly in place, clearly traumatized by whatever they had witnessed when the director tried to help with a scene change.
Very exciting stuff.
I found out later, the director had decided to ignore the planned out order for moving the set pieces (which had been utilized successfully for many weeks prior to him heading backstage) and had gotten the gazebo stuck in the doorway it was supposed to exit through; thus blocking the piano – and running said gazebo violently into said piano.
And apparently, gazebo and piano people would back off, only to repeat this stooge-esque routine.
It was gazebo v. piano and nobody was willing to back off.
Yes indeed folks.
Know your job in the theater and stick to it.