Tuesday, February 15, 2011


So You suppose that only things in YOUR LIFE goes wrong. But the world of the stage is a very interesting place to recount all of the crazy things that go wrong David Rendall, an opera singer, began a two million dollar law suit law suit after a stage set collapsed on top of him midway through a performance Rendall claimed his career was ruined by the accident, which shattered his hip and knee and damaged his shoulders. The 61-yea old tenor said he was unable to perform and has been forced to sell his house because work offers have dried up. The accident happened in April 2005 during a production of Aida at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. The accident was not Mr Rendall's first brush with misfortune on stage. During a performance of I Pagliacci in Milwaukee in 1998 he accidentally stabbed another singer in the stomach with a flick knife. The blade was supposed to retract but instead plunged three inches into the abdomen of Kimm The production continued with a replacement baritone and a retractable toy knife. In April of last year RSC actor Darrell D'Silva accidentally shot himself in the hand. The press night of Michael Boyd's modern-dress revival of Antony and Cleopatra was delayed after D'Silva sustained an unspecified injury from a stage gun during a technical rehearsal and subsequently required surgery. In Vienna in 2008 an actor, required to slit his own throat in a production of Schiller's Mary Stuart, discovered that the knife that he was using was not a blunt prop, but razor sharp. Unaware that what they were witnessing was real, the audience were obviously deeply impressed by the authenticity of his acting. Fortunately the actor survived. Last year, rehearsals for an amateur production of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in Florida came to an abrupt halt when one actor accidentally shot off another's ear. He lived to tell the tale, which wasn't the case with Chung Ling Soo, known as "the marvellous Chinese conjuror", who was shot dead by his own assistants at the Wood Green Empire in 1918 while attempting to catch two bullets in his teeth. Meanwhile productions of Macbeth appear to have the highest incident rate.
In 1948, Diana Wynard fell 15 feet into a pit during a production of The Scottish Play when she walked off the stage with her eyes closed in the sleepwalking scene. A century earlier 23 audience members were trampled to death when a riot broke out during a performance of Macbeth in Astor Place, New York At the Old Vic production of Macbeth in 1937 a 25lb weight fell from the ceiling and missed Laurence Olivier by inches. Old Vic founder Lilian Baylis died on the night of the final dress rehearsal. In 1990 at Hampstead's Pentameter Theatre the plastic retractable dagger failed to retract and Lady Macduff (Dr Annabel Joyce) had to go to hospital. She made a full recovery. And just reported now,
Two women from Kansas City, MO, who attended the Nov. 23, 2009, performance of Billy Elliot The Musical have filed a $4 million lawsuit over injuries sustained while watching the hit musical, according to the New York Post.
While sitting in the front row at the Imperial Theatre, Elaine Rosen and Cynthia Noblit were hit in the face by a prop that flew off the stage during a production number prior to the end of the musical's first act.
Both were taken to a hospital following the incident. Fifty-four year-old Rosen now has a "permanent scar" on her face, according to her lawyer Steven Halperin, while 60-year-old Noblit suffered a concussion. The lawyer told the Post that the production had invited both women to return to the musical; the staging of the first act production number has also been modified to avoid any future incidents. The lawsuit, according to the Post, charges the show's producers, Billy Broadway and NBC Universal, with "'general negligence' for 'arranging a hazardous and dangerous choreography' and 'failing to give . . . any notice or warning' to the audience."
Billy Elliot, winner of ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, continues to play Broadway's Imperial Theatre. And on a personal, mention of "The Scottish Play's name" on stage proved to be very unlucky for my production of "Edgar Alan and Poe" and it caused a whole rafter of bad luck things-- but such is life. Happy Birthday to Harold arlen and on this day in 1986, show business lost the late great
and absolutely amazing Ethel Merman: the only singer in the world that could hold a note longer than Chase Manhattan Bank.

Monday, February 14, 2011


It's been a while since I've written here and sadly I must report that for the first time in my entire life, I had a scheduled production cancelled. That's the bad news. The good news is that we have one of the same show coming up in Florida in late August of 2011. The lessons were many. First I must realize that Los Angeles Actors are not what once they were. They don't want to work that hard because they are of "the movie shoot" mentality. A "movie shoot mentality" means that they don't really have any real reason to memorize lines. Everything's on a cue card. The great Marlon Brando never memorized a script after "On The Waterfront" He had crib notes always. A very funny true story happened during the filming of "The Godfather" with Francis Ford Coppola. A very brief scene was to be filmed and Brando discovered that his crib notes were missing from the set. He got very angry and wanted to know where they were. A frustrated Francis Coppola said "But Marlon, you only have one word to say-- "It's the word "Yes". How could you possibly screw that up?" In his classic raspy whispery "Godfather" voice brando replied "I Could say "No". Los Angeles actors today simply do not have the discipline, the devotion and the hard work mentality that they once did -- like back in 1984 and 1989 when I was really producing plays. They have expensive I pods but not relliable internet connections. They have the latest computer programs but not printers. They complain at more things-- even when there is payment for them that sure beats the old do it for the art. This group was actually afraid that references in the show to the late great Milton Berle and the very much alive (but apparently not known in California) Stephen Sondhiem was going to cause people to laugh at them in ridicule. In future, I will be interviewing actors very carefuly. No longer wil it be "actors who sing" it will be "singers that act". And it will be actors who have less conflicts than windows for opportunity. It wil be actors who can come to a rehearsal without texting all night which in my opinion zaps mental concentration. It will be singing actors who can read music and can hear a Midi rendition of a tune and be able to rehearse it. No more divas-- male or female. Maybe I should put the same sign that my friend Kenny Loggins put on the door of the "We Are The World" recording. That sign said "Leave your ego at the door, or leave you card and get the hell out." Pretty strong words. The other lesson is to not allow a fraternity of actors from another show to be in another. Bad news. The actors in this group will be "all for one" and thus they wil be the first to cause trouble. And the last lesson: give more time for rehearsal! So on to Florida we go. Evidently that's where the really professional actor has gone to. Los Angeles actors are a lot lazy--and they could never pull this crap in New York City!