The Sunday Giveaway: An Autographed Copy of Seth’s Broadway Diary by Seth Rudetsky!

I first met Seth Rudetsky back when Bill Clinton was President, when he and I were working on the Broadway revival of Grease. You know, the one where the theater was painted pink and everyone from Brooke Shields to the Olympic Gymnast Dominique Dawes made an appearance (oh, and Billy Porter played Teen Angel!).

Since then Seth has written for Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show, hosted a Sirius radio show, written an off Broadway Disaster musical, and deconstructed lots of diva performances in his Chatterbox.

And now, he wrote a book?

What’s cool about the book is that it’s actually like a written down version of his Chatterbox.  It’s filled with stories . . . super funny ones from Broadway superstaaaaahs like Patti LuPone, Chita Rivera and more.

And, of course he’s included a lot of his own personal stories like the time . . . nope.  Can’t write that one without getting this blocked by your office firewall.  You’re just gonna have to get it yourself.

Or you can win one!


Well, you don’t have to be a superstaaaaah or Seth Rudetsky to have a funny stage story.  I remember when I was doing Anything Goes in high school, my mic got a case of feedback just as I screamed, “Hope!  Hope!” and it sounded like my voice cracked like a 12 year old boy.  The audience cracked up.  I didn’t know what happened.  “That wasn’t supposed to be one of the funny lines,” I thought.

What’s your funny stage story?  It doesn’t even have to have happened to you.  Tell me your “diary” story and one of you will win Seth’s Broadway Diary!


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • R.J. Lowe says:

    My first on stage mishap story happened during a Broadway performance of HAIRSPRAY I attended. Lil Inez (an understudy to boot) missed her first entrance. “Miss Baltimore Crabs” ground to a halt, over the sound system you heard the actress realize she’s missed her cue with a demure “OH F@&*!”, and then Velma ad libbed to keep going. Hysterical!

    The second happened to me. I was playing Mr. Saunders in LEND ME A TENOR. The tenor was dead on the bed and I was struck with the idea to make Max take his place. I rushed to the closet to get the suitcase and… Nothing! The cheap door had gone past the door jam and was stuck! The actor playing Max said he’d get help from hotel management and bolted off stage leaving me alone with a dead guy and a non-opening door! The audience howled as I vainly tried to pull the door open. I finally was able to push it in enough that the stage hand could scoot the suitcase out to me. The audience died some more. Then I had to yell for Max to come back. He finally did and we finished the scene. I was spent! But it was Am-ah-zing!!!

  • Jeffrey Hocking says:

    A friend was stage managing a regional production of Grease. Before Rizzo was to sing “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” a wagon with a row of lockers was supposed to be pushed down stage by one of the stage crew. Well, the stage crew member missed the cue to move the wagon. The actress playing Rizzo just started to play the scene and adjusted to the new (incorrect) location of the lockers upstage. The stage crew member realized he missed the cue a few measures into the song and attempted to correct the problem by pushing the wagon downstage as Rizzo sang. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that Rizzo was actually standing right in front of the lockers–so when he pushed the lockers, he ran into Rizzo. And then, since he thought one of the wagon wheels was stuck, he backed it up and pushed it harder to try to get it to move down stage. Sadly, it was Rizzo blocking him–but that didn’t stop him from backing up and trying a couple more times before he gave up and left the wagon where it was.

  • Francesca says:

    Two years ago I saw Winter’s Tale at McCarter and an actor was carrying a large butterfly piece on a stick and moving the stick above his head in a wavy, up and down motion to make it appear like the butterfly structure was flying. He entered through a doorway and bumped into the frame and the entire audience started giggling!

  • Kat says:

    When I was in middle school, I was in Wizard of Oz and two nights before we opened, we had a horrible rehearsal. People still didn’t know their lines, we had a tech quit just 2 hours before rehearsal started, etc. so of course our director was… none too happy to say the least. I was waiting with a bunch of other women to sing backstage and we were talking quietly and I don’t know if the mic picked it up or what but all of a sudden our director yells “Shut the F*** up!”. Needless to say we did; however, one of the little boys playing a munchkin then decided he learned a new word and was running around backstage yelling said curse word. Director came back stage to discuss that night’s show and heard the kid and wondered out loud where he heard it. One of the principals looked at him and with a straight face said, “you”. The look on the director’s face was priceless.

  • Kevin says:

    So many stories to be sure. I’ve endured funny things written in props, delivering dialogue into the wings and getting flashed by crew members, and of course the old standbys of going up on lyrics and being onstage with your fly down. But those don’t compare to my most interesting story.

    For my biggest onstage mishap, I have to go back to high school. I was a Freshman playing Mr. Bascombe, the owner of the mill, in Carousel. At one point I was supposed to chase Jigger offstage while shooting a starter’s pistol. Opening night of the production, the pistol kept jamming and our backup was also not working. The director suggested that I squeeze the trigger 6-7 times in the hopes of getting one shot off. The moment arrived in the show, I squeezed 6-7 times and lucky me, I got two shots off (sense the sarcasm). One in the direction of Jigger, and one as I turned back to Billy Bigelow. There was no dramatic leap to deny that I had shot the lead of the show at point blank range. We both froze. All I could think was, “Great, I just shot Billy – approximately two minutes before he is supposed to fall on his knife and kill himself.” Fortunately, Billy was a more seasoned senior and continued our dialogue as if nothing happened. So I went with it. While there have been plenty of fun stage stories since, my bad-ass Mr. Bascombe will always stick in my mind.

  • Gina says:

    Two years ago, I was in a regional production of Legally Blonde. I was playing the court D.A. among other ensemble roles. In the show, during the court case occurs the hilarious song “Gay or European”. Now, song is supposed to go: “Everyone: Gay or European? So many shades of grey. Warner: Depending on the time of day the French go either way. [Then more song occurs and later these lyrics are sung to the same tune…]- Everyone: Gay or European? So many shades of grey. Judge: But if he turns out straight I’m free at 8 on Saturday”. While performing the show one night, our Warner accidentally sang, “But if he turns out straight I’m free at 8 on Saturday”, instead of his lyrics. It was hysterical. It took every once of my being to not break character and burst into laughter on stage. The entire audience thought it was hilarious too. They were a bit confused, but I guess they figured it was just a plot twist. Warner is now gay?

  • Randy Turner says:

    In my college production of Fiddler on the Roof (Mississippi State University in 1976), the Rabbi fell off the stage into the pit during the wedding dance sequence. Luckily he was not hurt but we kept on dancing without him. We did laugh after the show.




  • Angela says:

    My very first show, as a freshman in high school, I was cast in A Thurber Carnival. In one of the scenes I played a Little Red Riding Hood-type of character who was supposed to shoot & kill the Wolf. During one performance, the gun would not go off. I pulled the trigger once, twice, three times, and the Wolf kept slowly advancing toward me. I finally looked at the gun, then out of desperation, threw it at the Wolf. It hit him and he dramatically clutched his chest and died!

  • Linda J. says:

    I volunteer with a children’s theater, and for our first couple of shows using microphones, we just turned them on and told the kids to be quiet if they didn’t have lines. Of course, the audience heard everything going on backstage, both the kids and adult helpers. Quite a show, I must say! It’s been almost dull, now that we have a volunteer soundman.

  • Beth Jensen says:

    I just want to win a book because I love Seth and his stories. Every one of his Sirius FM broadcasts is unique and genuine. He is a talented, talented delight.

  • Barbara Silverberg says:

    It wasn’t a play – it was the senior talent show in my high school. I was in a band and we were the Mamas and the Papas. Unbeknownst to us, the host tripped over the speaker wires and broke the sound system before we performed. In the middle of “Monday Monday”, when there was a pause in the music and the lead singer comes in, he sang so off key that they closed the curtains on us. I ran offstage in tears. Later, after they fixed the sound system and convinced us to go back on stage, they opened the curtains and we heard the entire audience collectively gasp. To this day I do not know how we got through our song.

  • Matthew Turkle says:

    In a performance of “The Boys from Syracuse” this past weekend, one of my castmates had an embarrassing story happen to him. During a major ballet at the end of Act I, a snap on his costume broke, forcing him to do the rest of the dance in nothing but his underwear. He pulled it off like a champ!

  • Liz Wollman says:

    I was in ninth grade in a production of “You Can’t Take It With You.” The crew used firecrackers that they’d drained of powder, but during one tech they forgot. The firecrackers exploded as the guy playing Carl and I leaned in to listen to them. No one was hurt, but I couldn’t hear for a good few minutes. Laugh riot, I know!

  • William Statham says:

    A few years back, I was appearing as a singer in a multi-million dollar theme park show at Busch Gardens Tampa. My character had to used a very cleverly cute monkey puppet that was a part of the song. The entire set and lighting plot was computer operated and used hydrolic lifts, rain curtains, trampolines, etc. At the end of my character’s song I was blocked to turn around towards upstage with my back to the audience and throw a foam banana through a closing porthole that was part of the set. I threw the banana, it bounced off the sliding porthole and landed dead in the middle between the sliding portholes. By this point, I had already turned around to face the audience and saw our show’s flashing red stop light from the sound booth, signaling me to exit the stage in case of emergency. I turned around again to exit upstage left but a giant sliding tree trunk that was also part of the set had already been pre-programmed to move on, so I ended up tripping UP the tree trunk, landed flat on my face behind it, and proceeded to scream “FUCK!” as my body hit the ground off stage right. The end.

  • Melissa Heeres says:

    Like many actor, I have my share of funny stories. Getting stuck on a lift during a big theme park show — check. Mic issues — check.

    But my favorite story is the time I was in a production of “City of Angels.” The cast is all assembled onstage for Buddy’s big party and Buddy is nowhere to be found. The pianist is onstage making conversation and ad-libbing music, the guests are all covering and trying to figure out what is going on. When we finally realize that he isn’t coming on stage anytime soon, my friend exits (through the front door, natch) and goes backstage. Turns out the other actor had used the restroom and just forgot that he had a scene to be in.

    He came out, we all covered like pros, and the show went on.

  • Josh Ruben says:

    During a dress rehearsal of “Peter Pan,” we had the counter weight on the flying rig…well…off … slightly. So everything’s going fine until “I’m Flying.” She hit her cue and started singing. Her arms akimbo, we start hoisting her and she starts the pendulum swing. Then she put her arms forward and that’s when the weight difference became…obvious. She went left, then right, then left then smacked right into into the proscenium arch. She was only dazed and we got her down immediately and fixed the rig. She finished the show and the run without incident. We still laugh over the little kid who described it as, “She went from looking like Superman to a drunken piñata.”

  • Dan Rich says:

    Like so many others, there are so many stories from over the years. From the time my SM decided to bring up the lights early leaving me (the ASM) to dive through a door and spend the next scene swearing and stuck behind a set piece with my Clearcom cable running across the stage and under the door. Or the clovers from a community theatre production of Seussical that didn’t want to come down when they were supposed to, but had no problems raining from the sky in the following scene. We even had the random items the crew would put in Archie’s suitcase every night during a production of A Secret Garden.

    However, my favorite has to be from a non-equity production of JCS many years ago in Cleveland. There are two numbers in the show where Caiaphas has almost identical lyrics. One night, the actor before him sings the lyrics from the act 2 number, and at the last line realizes what he has done and finishes with the act 1 lyrics. He turns to Caiaphas with a look like “sorry, but I fixed it”; leaving the actor playing Caiaphas so flustered that he performs what became known for the rest of the run as “unmotivated cross number 1” – a very stern looking cross down left with not a single lyric coming out of his mouth. This is followed a couple of lines later by Judas performing what could best be described as “speaking in tongues” (to this day no one has any idea what he actually said). Caiaphas has another lyric a few lines later, and this one became “unmotivated cross number 2” as he crosses back up stage with an ever sterner look on his face. The rest of us were up in the green room trying (unsuccessfully) not to break out in laughter loud enough to be heard in the house!

  • Susan Glass says:

    My son played John Darling in a playhouse production of Peter Pan. I had to “fly” him him for all 16 productions. He was about 11 at the time and weighed almost as much as me and was tall for his age. They only way I could successfully “fly” him was to pull the rope directly down while laying myself straight back on the floor. At one point he asked me how bad it was going to hurt when I dropped him. I never did but it was close a couple times.
    He went on to go to a performing arts high school and was nominated for a Tommy Tune Awards. I want to be thanked at the Tony Awards someday…

  • Michael Cordray says:

    As a audience member for many years I’ve seen a number of obvious goofs and mistakes on stage but on one occasion I was in attendance when an audience member stopped a show cold. In 1969/1970 Ann Miller was doing a series of commercial for the “Great American Soups”. Every commercial resulted in Miller doing a tap routine with Ann, at some point, striking one of her famous poses atop a giant can of soup (of course some of the ads now appear on YouTube). In 1971 Miller was touring summer stock in a recoreographed version of “Hello Dolly” that played the Kenley circuit in Columbus Ohio. The orchestra struck up the famous opening notes for the title song and when Dolly made her much anticipated appearance at the top of the famous staircase Miller struck one of her famous leg baring tap poses and someone from the balcony yelled “the Great American Soups” …. the audience went absolutely crazy … the orchestra stopped cold and it was a good 2 or 3 minutes before the number was restarted. I’ve often seen this number stop the show but never before (or since) for this reason and certainly never before it was actually performed.

  • Brad says:

    It’s the final scene of Peter Pan and the Window opens to have Peter arrive to take Jane back to Neverland. Much to my surprise, instead of Peter flying through the window, Jane went flying out of the bed and literally into the window. Yes, you guessed it, the fly master grabbed the wrong line. We have dubbed this the poltergeist moment. Trust me, it was quite memorable.

  • Auditioning for Jesus – Playing Judas
    “Oh would some power the gifte give us
    To see ourselves as others see us.”
    Robert Burns from “To A Louse”
    One of my first acting auditions came when our church planned to perform the “Passions of Christ.” As an acting student I figured I had an edge over the others for the top role of Jesus. After all, didn’t I just complete a semester of college as a drama major? My competitors were mere parishioners.
    Little did I realize that the parish priest, who would be directing the pageant, had type cast me to play the part of Judas. How humiliating. This was a blow to my spiritual ego. How could the priest not see me portraying the Son of God? Even though I may not have looked like Jesus, with a little makeup, beard, robe and a few trick props, I could change water into wine with the best of them.
    At the time I did not realize what a plum role Judas was. This is long before I learned that most Oscars went to deviates, prostitutes and some of civilizations more destructive personalities.
    Nevertheless, I was crushed.
    The only saving grace occurred when the passion play was cancelled because of a lack of participants. I was spared my embarrassment of portraying Judas, which, for all I know, may have been my breakout performance.
    It just goes to show you, it’s true. God works in mysterious ways.

  • Stephen says:

    During a performance of THE FULL MONTY, the stage manager called the wrong final lighting cue…the audience got what they paid for.

  • Bryan Austermann says:

    One time I was in a show called The Brutebeast The Witch and the Monister. I was playing the Brutebeast in a flashback section where he was mean and gets turned into an innocent monster. The prop that was used as the magic spell to be cast on me was confetti (like the hard plastic shapes usually scattered across tables at festive events). The girl playing the Witch used this confetti multiple times in the show as magic and this was the first of those times. She had a bowl full of this stuff and instead of taking a pinch of it, she tossed the whole bowl directly in my face. I was supposed to be standing there dumbfounded, so I guess my mouth was agape. The confetti shot straight to the back of my throat causing me to choke. I proceeded to attempt to continue with the scene but couldn’t and ended up on the ground and threw up center stage. I then rushed off and cleaned the mask I was wearing and someone else got paper towels to wipe up the confetti vomit. I came back onstage and had to sing a song with the first lyric being “Me tummy feels strange and so does me head.” In all actuality it fit the moment quite well.

  • Elena Muslar says:

    When I was in high school, I played Biondella in Taming of the Shrew. Yes, it’s typically Biondello (played by a male) but it was switched to a female character because my director thought I could pull of the comedy of this role as servant…oddly enough he was oh so right. One night towards the end of a scene between Lucentio, Tranio, and myself the lights in the theatre went completely out. It was PITCH BLACK! I couldn’t even see my hand in front of me. Awkward moments of silence began to pass by and the audience started to seem unsettled. My fellow actors just stopped talking and that’s when it hit me! Speak!

    In my very high pitched character voice I said…”Maaaaster………It’s dark.” The audience roared with laughter. As the laughter settled I said… “I’m scared.” As all this was happening I decided to clutch onto Tranio and lucky enough, the light’s came back up only to reveal to the audience me with my leg and arms wrapped almost entirely around Tranio in fear. As Lucentio exclaimed everything is all right Biondella and I squealed and we all exited the scene and the play continued right along.

    After the show people thought it was planned and to this day when I got back for alumni visits to our high school theatre company people still talk about the night the lights went out and Elena saved the show! 🙂

    I addressed the moment to keep to show going and calm the audience while hopefully things would get fixed. Luckily they did and improv skills really came in handy! Gotta love live theatre!

  • Lori Goldstein says:

    In high school I was involved with a production of Rogers’ and Hammerstein’s Carousel. During one scene where Julie is on stage, something went wrong. lines were forgotten and Julie started saying “Where’s Carrie”?. Those of us watching from the rear of the multipurpose room tried to cover our giggles as unbeknownst to other audience member’s both “Julie” and “Carrie” had actresses whose names were REALLY”Julie” and “Carrie”. When the show ended both cast and crew had a good laugh over this mix up.

  • Christopher Leavy says:

    True story, and one I love to tell: Wheelock Family Theatre, 1991. We’re doing “Peter Pan”, and in the middle of the second act, the Lost Boys and Indians (erm,”Native Americans”) defeat the Pirates. As they celebrate, Tiger Lily says to Peter Pan “Oh Peter, you’re so wonderful! Is there anything you can’t do?”

    A youngster halfway back in the house says loud enough for us to hear “Duh. He can’t grow up.”

  • Already a WINNER!!! says:

    Shakespeare in the Park (CP) was doing Chekov’s “The Seagull” with an all-star cast (Streep, etc.) It was opening night and we had to stand outside the public from the previous evening just to get tickets. Finally get in to see the show and in an early scene actor Christopher Walken hauled out a large cigar and was about to light it when the sky burst into a downpour. Unperturbed, Walken puffed away at the flickering light until the cigar released a large puff of smoke. The audience gave him an ovation, and then sadly, the show was stopped several moments later. They gave us tickets for another night but it wasn’t as memorable without Walken lighting a cigar in the rain.

  • At a high school production of my play MILLION DOLLAR MEATBALLS, the gloomy Russian waiter, who’d been knocked out in a previous scene, came back to life without realizing that his gray wig had fallen off and only his wig cap was showing. Hysterical laughter ensued. When the poor actor finally realized what had happened, he tried to put the wig back on his head, but it stuck up a crazy angle. More hysterical laughter. He finished the play that way and most of my lovingly crafted dialogue was drowned out by the audience’s guffaws. It taught me a valuable lesson. No matter how hard you work on a script, it’s what the actors do with it that gets the biggest laughs.

  • Oh, let me count the ways. It was a college production of “Richard III,” with what seemed like a cast of thousands. Many of the minor “actors” had never been on stage before. They had been recruited out of desperation, by the director who walked around, asking various students, “Wanna be in a play?” The mishaps were amazingly plentiful. A messenger ran on stage, shouting “My Lord, My Lord,” then tripped and fell flat on her face. Another messenger came on stage and then went totally blank. So the young woman who had a line at the very end of the scene said her line, and everyone filed off,leaving the audience mystified. A very tall man with a long robe with voluminous sleeves ran across the stage, “acting” excitement by spreading his arms wide, in what looked like an imitation of a huge bat. (Hysterical laughter.) The ghosts who cursed Richard and blessed Richmond in a thrilling sequence, had differing regional accents, and the one who sounded like a Kennedy imitator brought down the house with his “Richaaard, this is Vauuuund. Dispehr end doy.” One night Richard III accidentally
    disarmed Richmond, who lunged at him, and fell off the thrust stage into the lap of his mother. (Richmond would not come out for the curtain call.)
    But the very worst thing that happened didn’t happen. I was playing Lady Anne and had on a costume that was held up and out by a padded corset-like structure held together by heavy string laces. I had double-knotted them, and thought I was safe. But one of the other actresses urged me to check my padding backstage, shortly before I was to go on. So I lifted my skirt and discovered that all the knots had come loose and that the contraption was on the verge of falling right off of me. I fixed things just
    in time, and went on-stage, to say my first line, which was, strangely enough, “Set down, set down
    your honorable load.”

  • Elizabeth Gentry says:

    My freshman year of high school, I was working backstage for the musical Gypsy. In the scene celebrating June’s birthday, the script called for a birthday cake with lots of candles. Because I was freshman in props crew, my job was simple. I was to stand off stage, light the candles, and then hold it ready for one of the actors to pick up. Our final show, I held the cake, lit the candles, and handed it to one of the actors walking onstage just like I was supposed to. I stood offstage thinking to myself, “HA. I did it! Show well done!” and sat down to watch the actors. As the scene proceeded, the girl playing June blew out her candles and walked away from the cake. The scene was going well until I realized that the candles had re-lit! I looked at the package of candles in my hand and realized that I had put trick candles in the cake!! The rest of the scene, I sat there agonizing as I watched different actors attempt to blow out the candles in the cake. Finally during the next song one of the actors just flipped the candles into the cake and I was never asked to be in charge of props again…

  • Ed Katz says:

    Happened on stage but it wasn’t a play- but music definitely was involved.
    Back when I was a student at Syracuse University I was on the Concert Board. I got to go to all the concerts. Aerosmith was already huge but had agreed to play the Syracuse Landmark Theater (only 3000 seats) for a benefit concert. Because I was on Concert Board, I was one of only a handful who got to see the sound check. It was one song: ‘Rats in the Cellar.’
    Steven Tyler walked though the choreography- including a jump, hurdle-style, over his mic stand- and they were done with the sound check.
    The show starts and about the second song in was ‘Rats in the Cellar.’ I don’t need to tell you how infamous Aerosmith was for substance abuse back then and let’s just say it seemed Steven Tyler was not 100%.
    Anyway, they get to the part where Tyler is supposed to leap over the mic stand- and he trips on it and falls flat on his back.
    And he lay there for several measures… wincing, either from embarrassment, pain or a combination of both.
    The band is still playing and guitarist Joe Perry is looking down at him as if to say, “Hey, Steve, are you gonna’ get up or what?”
    Then, as if on cue, he leaps back up in perfect time to the beat and goes full bore into the rest of the song and, from that point on, he gave a sensational show.
    It was as if the fall woke- or sobered- him up. Maybe he felt, after that fall, he had something to prove.
    Either way, he sure proved that he could put on a hell of a show when he wanted to. And to see him make that kind of a recovery was truly impressive and showed what kind of a stage performer he could be.

  • Carl says:

    I was in “Talk Radio” at the Public Theater. One night after the show, a man came backstage, made eye contact with me, and said, “nice job.” I said, “Thanks — and you are?” A fellow actor leaned over toward me, covered his mouth so that only I could hear, and said, “That’s Joe Papp, you idiot.”

  • lorraine treanor says:

    An actor known to rely on gestures to remember is lines was performing Dracula. In one of the rather long monologues, I noticed white suddenly appearing around his waistline. Then colored flowers. You’re right, his pants were slowly sinking to the floor, and the actor only showed awareness as they fell in a heap at is ankles. He had another three minutes to go before he could escape to the wings. So. He’d pull them up, forget a line. remember the gesture. pants would slip. be grabbed, forget the line. and so the routine continued, the audience cracking up until the scene ended. To – it turns out – the only hearty applause of the evening. My seatmate said the actor missed a great opportunity. He could have shouted “Curse you Dracula!”

  • Brian says:

    We were doing a production of the Secret Garden in highschool and had a live goat in the show. It decided it needed to go to the bathroom while onstage. It’s a maze this garden turned into quite a maze as we weaved in and out of scenery around goat poop.

  • Jared Goerke says:

    Well when I was in Man Of La Mancha we had a major set malfunction. At the end of the show when The Captain was about to come on to collect Don Quixote the bridge wouldn’t come down. After about a minute of sheer silence on the stage and in the audience the director of the show screamed out “GO ON!’. The entire audience and the actors started cracking up. We had the bridge letting The Captain onto the stage from the audience so The Captain just screamed his lines out from the audience and Don Quixote and Sancho just walked off stage.

  • JM says:

    During a Community Theater production of Anything Goes I choreographed many years ago, a neighborhood mutt wandering onto the stage. Not missing a beat, the Moonface said something to the effect of, “That’s what they mean by Sea Dog.”

  • Brenda Chapman says:

    In our High School production of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo “died,” with his dagger beneath him, where Juliet couldn’t reach. As she was about to try choking herself to death, Romeo’s “dead” hand slowly crept under his tunic, pulled out the dagger, and handed it to her. He was trying so hard to be cool, but the audience and Juliet watched the whole long, drawn-out, process.

  • David A. says:

    The performance of WEST SIDE STORY where the young and hopeful Tony stood center stage not knowing his fly was wide open while singing “Something’s Coming.” The audience tittered at first, The laughter however was deafening when he got to “I don’t know WHAT it is BUT its gonna be GREAT!” and every time the title of the song was repeated all the way through his last “Maybe tonight.”
    The poor kid knew something was wrong but didn’t have a clue that his shirt tail was sticking stiffly out of his pants The audience still laughing into the next scene. Tony’s zipped up entrances for the rest of the evening were greeted with applause and cat calls. It’s true. An audience doesn’t forgive or forget.

  • Bob says:

    How I Stopped The Show, But Wished I Hadn’t — In 2010, I was at a weeknight performance of David Mamet’s show Race at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, starring Richard Thomas, Kerry Washington, James Spader & David Alan Grier. I was alone, seated on the aisle in Row BB, the second row of the center orchestra. The seats across the aisle were empty and leg room was a little tight, so I put my backpack on the floor by the seat directly across the aisle from me (which was the first row in that section).

    At intermission, I was talking to the women seated on my right when an announcement was made that the second act would be delayed. We speculated on what could have happened and then, for some reason, I looked across the aisle and saw that my backpack was missing. After I raced to the lobby to report a stolen backpack, a theatre employee directed me to the police outside the theatre.

    Completely bewildered, I ran outside, crossed 47th Street and approached two police officers kneeling next to my backpack and pulling my books and dirty gym clothes out of the backpack. I still didn’t get what was happening. One of the actors had seen an “unattended” backpack during the first act and reported it.

    This, of course, was post 9/11 and shortly after a foiled car bomb attempt in Times Square so everyone was, understandably, on high-alert. “If you see something, say something”, right? Fortunately, the police believed my claims of innocence and left me to re-pack my bag. Very embarrassed and a little late for the second act curtain, I watched the rest of the show from the rear orchestra. After the show, I found the women sitting next to me during the first act and explained that all of our speculations about the delay had been very wrong.

  • abe says:

    During a performance of Rock of Ages on the West End, a late-arriving couple sat down in the front row about 20 minutes into the show. Simon Lipkin (Lonny) sees them, greets them, and proceeds to act out a brief synopsis of everything that had happened up until that point.

  • Jeremy Terry says:

    Probably the best stage mishap I’ve experienced was in my college’s production of The Phantom of the Opera. I was on the rigging crew, and happened to be in the catwalks for the end of Act 1 which gave me the perfect view. During “All I Ask of You,” there were artificial snow machines going (the kind that put out little soap bubbles that look like snow when they’re falling but then melt on the floor). Well, at one point Raoul was supposed to run downstage and then spin to look at Christine. On this night, the snow had been going extra heavy, so in certain spots the stage floor had become slick with the melted bubbles, and Raoul ran downstage, tried to stop and kept going right over the front of the stage and into the audience. He was fine, and after Christine and the audience helped him back up on the stage, they attempted their best to continue the song without laughing hysterically (and failed miserably). In such a serious point of the show, it was probably the most comedic thing I’ve ever seen.

  • Rebecca Hanauer says:

    Last April, I was Rizzo in a production of “Grease.” After “Greased Lightning,” I make an entrance and jump on the hood of the car, and then slide off later. One night, I slid off and heard a “Riiiip!” My jeans had caught on a piece of metal on the hood, and left a huge rip, right on the butt. I then had to jump in the car, (which usually meant turning my back to the audience then jumping in, that night it meant shimmying around the car then side diving inside) and wait for it to pulled offstage by the stagecrew.

    Meanwhile, I’m supposed to be wearing the same pair of jeans for the scene after the next one. So I run to my dressing room, take off the pants to see the damage (it was bad), and somehow I decide the best course of action was to find the costumer, but I didn’t put the pants back on. So I’m running down the hall, without pants, running past the ensemble, desperately trying to find costumer. Luckily, we wore the same size and I went onstage for the final scene of Act 1 in jeans that definitely didn’t fit the 1950’s style.
    Bonus: In that same scene, I managed to punch myself in the eye during the Kenickie/Rizzo fight scene. It was not my best show that night, but every other one went perfectly!

  • fran says:

    I hate to have to admit this, but…
    When I was first starting out, I had a job helping with publicity on an Off Broadway show. Opening Night, I was in charge of giving VIPs the show’s publicity pack. Well, I hear this very distinctive voice, and know it’s Tammy Grimes. I smile as I hand her the pr pack and say “Oh Miss Grimes, I saw you yesterday in The Misanthrope and I just want you to know I think John Wood was terrific.” There was this pause as I realized I hadn’t said anything about her performance. So I added: “I enjoyed your performance too.”
    Awkward moment, she nodded and walked away. I wanted to die.

  • Alex Bernstein says:

    My high school drama teacher told us a story about a productions of “Carousel” that he directed a few years back. During one of the performances, one girl was singing “June is busting out all over”, threw her arms back and her blouse popped open.

  • Dawn Kita says:

    I’m a complete Broadway nut, and a few years ago, my daughter’s community symphony competition at Carnegie Hall was the most terrific reason to fly in from Los Angeles to indulge in an eight-show week. But with a kid about to go to college, who has money for great seats? I bring binoculars and settle for the cheapest seat in the house and just see everything I can.

    Stretching the ticket dollar is a little bit of puzzle, and even with the internet, sometimes it is difficult to know what you’re getting. We did a great job of getting our tickets in advance, but I’d heard you could buy some $25 seats at a couple of different shows if you went to the box office. We were thrilled to get the $25 seats for Xanadu, but knew nothing about the show (at the time) except it was based on the movie. Imagine our faces when we realized the usher was telling us “don’t accost the actors, and when I cue you, break the glowstick, wave it in the air and DANCE.” All I can say is it was incredibly fun to be THAT CLOSE to Cheyenne Jackson in THOSE SHORTS! Original cast, it was all awesome fun!

  • Jason Crespin says:

    Many years ago, I was playing El Gallo in our community theater’s production of “The Fantasticks.” On our first preview night, I was so nervous and kept trying to stay calm. Well, the show went perfectly smooth until the very end where I had to sing “Try To Remember (Reprise).” You see our Music Director had divided the lines of “Try To Remember” in Act 1 where I would sing the first verse and then Matt and Luisa would sing a verse. Well when it came to the Reprise, I sang my verse and then looked at my fellow actors ready to hear them sing. At that moment I realized we were at the end of the show not the beginning and I was to sing ALL the verses! I quickly panicked and could not remember a single verse. So I quickly began singing my own lyrics! Dr. Suess poured from my mouth as all my lyrics rhymed…. “You will see…. we’ll be as happy as can be….” Needless to say, the audience had no clue I rewrote the song on the spot and from then on, people in our cast would joke that I should ‘try to remember’ my lyrics in “Try To Remember.”

  • Alexa B. says:

    I’m in a community production of Hairspray right now and our principal was supposed to come on but she was way backstage and moves pretty slowly. So you could hear her shouting her lines on her way to the stage! Was pretty funny

  • Gordon says:

    I did a production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown in high school in grade ten many years ago, and I played Schroeder. When it came time for the scene to call everyone out for the Glee club rehearsal I went out on stage with my little piano. Set it up and sat down.
    I then opened my mouth:”Linus, Lucy, Charlie Brown, where are you?”

    And the lights went out. Someone had tripped on the power cord running the small lighting rig for the classroom we were using.

    The only thing I could think of to say was, “Linus, Lucy, Charlie Brown, where are you?”


    The actress playing Lucy called out from the wings, “We’re right here blockhead. We’ll be out when the lights go back on.”

    I sat there dejected until the lights came back on a few minutes later. The other actors slowly walked on stage and we started the Glee Club rehearsal scene…

  • caryn says:

    I was playing Snoopy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and of course had bronchitis throughout the whole run. One night Snoopy was supposed to be napping on top of his doghouse while a scene went on. Cue: incessant coughing fit. I couldn’t stop! I played it up like Snoopy was having a squirrel chasing dream and threw myself off the dog house and ran on all fours off stage where I could get some water to calm the cough.

    It got some great laughs!

  • Michael Kras says:

    My favourite story: I was in a production of Little Shop of Horrors, playing Mr. Mushnik. During a dialogue break in ‘Ya Never Know’, I start to hear the most obnoxious sound. I kept hearing someone screeching out fifths, with the intermittent munching of food. So while I’m trying to keep the show going, all I can hear is:

    “Aaaaahhh aaaahhh aaaahhhh aaaaahhh aaaaahhh” *munchmunchmunch* “Aaaaahhh aaaahhh aaaahhhh aaaaahhh aaaaahhh” *munchmunchmunch*

    It was loud enough that I knew for sure I was hearing it, but also quiet enough that I wondered if it was in my head.

    It drove me crazy, and when I got offstage after, I found out what it was. The actor playing Audrey was in the green room doing a vocal warm up while eating pretzels, and her mic was on the whole time.

  • This is just a story. I had taken my 6 yr. old daughter to the State Theater to see Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat.Intermission I asked her how she liked the show, with all the colors,singing and dancing. “I didn’t.” I was so amazed. Elizabeth said,”I want to be up there.” She has performed in Joseph 3 times at the State Theater and received a scholarship for a BFA at a great college. She turned me onto Seth on Sirius and channel 72 stays on. I love him before knowing anything about him because he told stories.He was educating me, making me laugh that I would drive around the block until he was done with the story. I’m dying for his books but Elizabeth turns 19 December 3, and I couldn’t have children she was a miracle,. I would love to show her this and tell her we won.

  • Beth says:

    I was in a community theater production of Joseph and the . . . Dreamcoat. During one of the dance numbers, I kicked my leg like I was supposed to and next thing I knew, I had landed hard on my butt on stage! I got right back up and continued dancing and one of the other cast members told me later that it looked like it had been choreographed that way. I was embarrassed but no-one seemed to notice :-). Another time I was doing a tap number for a fundraiser show and when I was done, I looked down and saw that my shirt had come unzipped while I was dancing – thank God I was wearing a black leotard underneath!

  • Joe Ferriero says:

    As a teen theater director I have many stories, but my favorite would be during a production of Bye Bye Birdie. We were having some random feedback sounds during a performance and at one point a loud rumble came from the sound system. The student playing Harry Macafee grabbed his stomach as if he had some indigestion issues. It was hilarious and perfect!

  • Shelby Art says:

    One of my oldest funny stage memories occurred when I did a musical called Teens in Tinseltown many years ago at my little hometown theatre. I was playing the lead (essentially my first ever lead) and I was a little overzealous. At the end of the show we had a big dance number where I get to enter lifted up on a boy’s shoulder (in a dramatic jazz pose-legs crossed, right arm up in a dramatic fashion, the whole shebang). Well we had rehearsed for weeks without the set, and when they finally added it in for tech week I didn’t really assess the doorway we entered through and was so proud of my dramatic jazz pose that I didn’t realize I couldn’t quite clear the top of the door. So as the music swelled and I was carried on for my big entrance, the door clothes lines me and I toppled back (not quite the graceful dramatic entrance I’d hoped for). The worst part – no one noticed! And suddenly I realized…my “big” entrance came mid song, upstage and literally couldn’t be seen anyway…

  • Charlie Martinez says:

    So I’m in high school still, but I’ve done many productions for a while. I was doing a play called Honeymoon in Graveside Manor & I had a friend who wanted to challenge the “theatre ghost”, keeping in mind that before every show & rehearsal we said high to the ghost & scream “whaz Up”, my friend wanted to challenge this ghost & we have had bad encounters like this before when we did Charlie Brown ( the mics cut in & out & got bad feedback from the system & a prop fell all because they forgot b to say hi to the ghost) so flash 2 weeks forward to our opening night &, every thing so far is going well. We have a staircase that went up to a “second floor” with a banester, underneath the staircase there was a “Harry Potter room” , so there’s the sense when my friend ran up the stairs & touch the banester & the entire half of the staircase fell over , trapping the lead actress in the Harry potter room were she was supposed to exit. I run out on stage & was shocked to see all of this, all I said was “did you guys feel that earthquake? ” the crowd laughed & thought at the end of the show that it was part of the show. It was such a fun show & a great cast.

    Hope you enjoy my story, by the way that show happened 2 years ago.

  • Becca Stoll says:

    An old classic: I was six, and my day camp would put together a musical revue every summer. Our age group got assigned the song “it’s a hard knock life” and I got cast as Annie. I was overjoyed! Childhood dreams being realized. So anyway, show day I’m doing my little choreography, and on the line “stead of kisses we get kicked”…I kicked so hard my slipper flew off my foot and into the audience. Needless to say I finished the number somewhat mortified. I even have the home videos to prove it.

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