The Sunday Giveaway: Two tickets to It’s Only A Play on Broadway!

Remember that time I announced my involvement in It’s Only A Play on Broadway?  And remember that time it was only supposed to run until January 4th?

Ok, truth time.

I’ll admit it.  I always expected it to be a hit, but I never in a million years expected it to be the kind of hit it has become!  And if you were thinking about investing in the show back in the day and asked me if I thought it was going to extend, I’d have said, “I wouldn’t even think about that.  Invest in this show based on this run only.  And that’s it.”

Flash forward six months later and we’re a hit, we recouped . . . and we extended . . . AND we got Martin Short to jump into Nathan’s tuxedo!  And Katie Finneran takes over for Megan Mullally and Maulik Pancholy from 30 Rock for Rupert Grint.  And Matthew Broderick, F. Murray Abraham, Stockard Channing and Micah Stock are all sticking around!

I got like sixteen Christmases in one.

And now I got a gift for you . . . two tickets to see the brand new cast of It’s Only A Play!

Here’s how you win:

Give me your best on-stage or off-stage disaster story.  You know, when something went unexpectedly wrong.  It can be you got a bad review, or you watched someone go up on their lines, or that time when I forgot the words to the second verse of “Something’s Comin'” while performing West Side Story. (Oops, did I type that out loud?)

Whatever happened, it’s only a play, right?  So write your tale in the comments below, and end your story with, “it’s only a play!” and you could see the show! (Fyi, tickets have to be used within the first week of the new cast’s run, from 1/5 – 1/11.)

Good luck!


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  • Jacob Persily says:

    When you walk out on stage for your only major scene in the one performance of a summer camp production of Annie at age 8, and realize you haven’t turned your microphone on. It’s Only a Play!

  • Philip V says:

    I was playing Father in “Children of Eden” in 2009. We were in the final week of our 3-week run. During the 2nd Act, Father sits and watches the action aboard the Ark, until “The Hardest Part of Love.” Well, I was watching a little TOO well, and thought to myself “I’ve never heard this music before.” Turns out it was an orchestra vamp… Waiting for an entrance. The pit was in a loft behind me, so I heard an angry “PSSSSSTTT” as my cue. The panic on Noah’s face was evident until I finally started singing.

  • Jared Goerke says:

    When everyone in the casts mics start to cut out and no one understands how to project…

  • Aaron Deitsch says:

    In my 6th grade play, I was caught mouthing everyone else’s lines!

  • Brian says:

    in highschool I was working backstage and there was a transformer that blew up and caused the power to go out. I ran backstage to get to the front of the house and ended up sliding down a ramp that had just been mopped and slid down, hit a wall and fell backwards and fell backwards and hit my head on the cement. I still went on for the next scene change.

  • Matt W says:

    I was playing the Emcee in Cabaret, (back before he was reimagined as a shirtless be-suspendered hottie), and there’s a line introducing Sally, she sings “Don’t Tell Mama,” then another line counting down to Midnight on New Year’s, followed by a blackout and Sally appearing at Cliff’s table when the lights come back up. I got the lines mixed up. had I not caught myself, Sally would never have been introduced, never met Cliff, and the show would have been much shorter.

  • MST says:

    I was a producing intern at a new work development festival in Poughkeepsie, in charge of doing archival taping for a Beth Henley play, with a few big name actors. The play is low-tech, but I’ve already done such a good job marketing the show that the house is packed with a very excited audience. At a certain point, everyone can smell smoke and my camera is picking up whispers of “is the footlight on fire?” All at the same time, the house manager rushed in with an extinguisher, an off-stage actor appears asking “well should I put it out?” and the on stage actors continued playing their scene. My archival tapes were unusable, but alas “It’s only a play!”

  • Way back in the days of dinner theater as a young actor I had the role of the idealistic young playwright in the strikingly similar work to “It’s Only A Play” called “Light Up The Sky” by Moss Hart. It addresses the same opening night drama but in a Boston tryout with backers, director, producer and actors turning on the first time playwright until the reviews come in. One performance happened to be on the Sunday of a Super Bowl and each time the actor playing the flamboyant director came on stage he wove in a score update for the game into his lines, annoying other performers but apparently pleasing some audience members who had been dragged there by their wives and missing the game. This was well before personal devices could track the score and there was always a smattering of applause to each update. The result was happy for the character of the young playwright and a win for the Steelers!

  • Michael R says:

    I was Marius in my high school version of Les Miz and during the last song Cosette and I missed our mark. When the scrim came down to separate the dead and living people it landed on our heads so Cosette backed up quickly into the dead side. I was left awkwardly by myself in front for the rest of the song. It’s only a play!

  • Madison says:

    I was stage managing a production of one-act murder mysteries in high school and one of my actors was very unreliable with learning his lines. In the middle of a performance, he completely forgot his lines and began making up a fake war story- and the other actor went along with it! I had to close the curtain on them. In another scene, the leading actress got lost backstage and never made it out in time for her scene, leaving two actors stranded on stage with nothing to do. To top it all off, my best friend literally fell asleep ON stage (he was sitting at a table on the side of the stage in the dark) and finally woke up when he heard the curtain call going on. Can’t make this stuff up, it’s only a play!

  • Hilary E Davis says:

    Oh godness – I have two stories! (Hope that’s okay):
    1) I was a daughter in “Pirates of Penzance.” For the set design, the techies extended the beach/shore area to encircle the orchestra (which was right infront of the stage), so the actors were RIGHT in front of the audience during the show; like, in the faces of the audience. Well, afternoon of the first performance, I loose my voice COMPLETELY! I had to “singl” all those songs, by either lip syncing or sounding like a dead cat, in the faces of the audience. Oy! Well, “it’s only a play!” 🙂

    2) I was the assistant to the student director for our school’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You,” and my one techie job was to be in charge of the smoke/fog machine. That’s ALL I has to do – press a button for the smoke to come out during or before the blast. Well, the machine worked PERFECTLY until opening night where it decided that it wanted to overheat instead. So every time I pressed the button, NOTHING HAPPENED! Boy did I get yelled at for that …… The second night — same thing happened! It was too overheated to work! Night theee (the last performance/night), my awesome techie friends helped me out – they probably saw how freaked out I was about getting yelled at again – and we got hand-held fans to blow on the machine until it needed to work. Well – third time’s a charm and the smoke come out EXACTLY when it was supposed to – PHEW! Good thing “it’s only a play!” 🙂

  • Ruth says:

    I was in the pit of a summer production of “Oliver”. Pretty quickly, the other musicians and I discovered that the conductor couldn’t read music! So for one very boring matinee performance, we decided to transpose the entire show up a key! The singers had no idea what was going on, and were dying on stage, the conductor certainly had no idea, and we admitted to nothing. Then again, no one asked us! But a good laugh was had by all of us at dinner!

  • Chris Dicke says:

    inside Snoopy costume during you’re a good man Charlie Brown got stuck in doghouse had to break part of it with Lucy’s help to get out and do snoopy dance for the audience

  • R.J. Lowe says:

    During a run as Father Virgil in NUNCRACKERS, there came a point in the first act in which the phone was supposed to ring, I would go and answer it and then mime a conversation as Reverend Mother and Sister Hubert had some dialogue. Then I came back to report that Sister Julia, Child of God was not going to be able to appear which led to my donning a habit and going into my best Julia Child impression. One night the phone didn’t ring and things came to a screeching halt for a moment. Unsure what to do, I turned to Reverend Mother (who was in charge after all) and said, “What should we do next, Reverend Mother?” She stared at me blankly and said, “I have no idea.” Suddenly the actress playing Sister Robert Anne turned upstage and screamed, “Brring, Rring!” She then turned back to us and said, “I think the phone is ringing.” The audience tittered. I stared at her and said, “Really?!?” She gave me a slight shove and I crossed stage right, picked up the phone, and said, “Hello?” and had just started to mime the conversation when…

    THE PHONE RANG!!!!!!!

    The audience howled. I pulled the receiver away from my ear and stared at it in annoyance and quickly turned to the audience and said, “Damn call waiting!!!” The audience howled once again! I pushed the button on the phone as if switching to a different line, said, “Hello?” again and then went on with the scene, my face red.
    Later I asked those on the rail why the phone hadn’t rang. “We forgot to plug it in,” was the answer. So I asked why it then rang after I’d already answered. “Well we plugged it in and needed to make sure it worked…” “DURING THE SHOW?!?!?” I asked calmly. A blank stare was my reply.

    The best part? It ended up on a blooper reel for all posterity!!! Yes we had so many mess ups during the run of that production we had an entire blooper reel!!! Ah well, it’s only a play!!!

  • Mary Gahagan says:

    While doing “The Foreigner” two actors got involved talking backstage and one failed to make his entrance. The two actors on stage improved for a bit, till one of them said, “Where is Ellard? I am going to go get him”. She left the stage, leaving only one actor on stage! She returned very promptly dragging Ellard by the ear!!! I was doing sound tech and about wet my pants over the whole thing! Funny thing was, audience never realized anything was wrong!!! Oh well, it’s only a play!

  • Elissa says:

    I’ve been in 3 productions of A Chorus Line and in each one I’ve had something go wrong!

    In the first production, as Bebe, we didn’t stick to the original costumes so I had on a halter leotard. Mine was a little too low cut so I always kept the strap tied up and pinned tighter and used a good amount of double stick tape. Towards the beginning of the Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen Montage, I felt the pin pop open. About halfway through the montage while dancing, the guy who played Al was facing me and pointed out that one of my breasts had fallen out of the top of my leotard! I quickly pulled myself together and, thankfully, no more slips happened before the Cassie/Paul break where I could re-pin and use the rest of my double stick tape.

    In my second production, as Val, I mixed up my lyrics during Dance Ten Looks Three and made the song much more confusing! All of this with one of the original Broadway Val understudy’s in the second row!

    Finally in my most recent production, also as Val, I dropped my gold hat very early in the finale. Imagine the entire cast in perfect unison! Including the cut dancers and with the wall of mirrors behind us to make it look like the gold never ends. And then there’s me without a hat! I was absolutely mortified!

    But it’s only a play!

  • Wilma says:

    The most recent off-stage calamity was when we were getting actors costumed and ready for the costume parade during tech week and a VERY bold mouse decided it was time to run between the feet of an actor, dodge several more people and then run behind all of the boot/costumes storage bags on the floor. It then craftily slither under the door of a connecting room which we couldn’t access. It’s amazing the amount of drama one little mouse can bring to the theatre!

  • fran says:

    I was stage managing a production of Wait Until Dark in South Jersey, I think back in 1980. Opening scene, the husband’s supposed to leave a burning cigarette in the ashtray and exit. His wife, who’s blind, isn’t supposed to know there’s a fire danger. The bad guy knocks on the door and enters, claiming to be a friend of the husband. He sees the burning ashtray and crosses with the ashtray to the sink where he puts it out and the wife thinks he’s a great person.

    Ok, so what happened: Actor playing the husband didn’t smoke so we were using herbal cigarettes, which don’t stay lit as well as the real things. There are meticulous directions in the script notes on how to build the perfect ashtray fire: take strips of newspaper, twist them into little bow ties, placing a match head into the twist part of the paper. Should work like a charm. It didn’t. Damn herbal cigarette kept going out. I would get a note from the director about no fire in the ashtray. I kept adding more little paper bowties with match heads to the ashtray.

    Finally, one magic show, the actor put the lit herbal cigarette in the ashtray and the paper lit to the match head. And yes, it worked too well and most of the ashtray lit up. The actor playing the bad guy enters, sees the burning ashtray and says, No problem, there’s a FIRE in the ashtray and rushes it to the sink. Thankfully he put it out quickly and the theatre did not burn down.

    What, and give up show business!!!!

  • Becky says:

    When I was seven I was cast as Molly in a local production of Annie. We rehearsed (and fundraised) for months and months with no show date in sight. After a while parents started to ask questions. That’s when the “Director” skipped town with all of the money that was raised. Everyone was devastated that their would be no show so the parents banded together , raised new money to pay for the rights and everyone volunteered their talents to put together the show. Opening night finally arrived and our local news station came out to cover the event. About half way through “It’s a Hard Knock Life” The orphanage wall fell over right onto the orphans! No one was hurt because I’m pretty sure it was made out of cardboard and furring strips. The orphans never missed a beat, they just pushed the wall back into place and kept singing but of course THAT was the clip the news decided to show that night!! Oh Well! It’s only a play!!

  • Lauri says:

    When my son was in the 6th grade, he landed his first speaking role as Cinderella’s Prince/The Wolf in Into the Woods. I was front and center to watch and hear what hilariously unfolded. The little girl playing Milky White forgot to die and was just standing on the stage. The kid playing Jack waited awkwardly, as long as possible before whispering (loudly) to Milky White, “DIE!” Milky White waited a beat before whispering back, “Skip it.”
    Jack: You have to die.
    Milky White: No, I forgot. Just skip it.
    Jack: You HAVE to.
    Milky White: Fine.
    And she slowly and carefully lay down on the stage. ‘Jack’ then continued with the scene, ‘surprised’ and very sad that his beloved cow had just ‘died.’ My husband had to pinch me to stop my hysterical giggling. It’s only a play!

  • Stephanie says:

    When I was in high school I went to a performing arts school and our musical that year was NINE. We had a beautiful set and our production was chosen out of 40 schools to be a Mainstage at the Florida State Thespian Festival. Before we left we gave one last performance in our hometown at a popular performance venue before heading to state. In our production during the spa scene we had real working fountains during the scene. It was beautiful. On the night of the farewell performance the fountains had a mind of their own and were going off at the wrong times and leaking water all over the stage. To clean up the mess we incorporated this cleaning crew act to mop up the mess and the girls at the spa wore towels as there costume and we had several of them give us their towels once they got off stage! We finally got the stage cleaned up so everyone who was dancing was safe and no one in the audience knew it wasn’t a part of the show. The production went on to the state festival,was a hit and the fountains were working perfectly. When I think back on the fountain mishap I just laugh and think ” it’s only a play!”

  • Neil says:

    West Side Story! I’m playing Lt. Schrank in college, and it’s a doozy of a show. Great leads, great orchestra. I was disappointed that I wasn’t a bigger part, but with the caliber of our cast I was definitely not surprised.

    Closing night, and the greatest props emergency I have ever seen occurs. Our Chino gets into places for the final scene (He’s about to fatally shoot Tony as he falls into Maria’s waiting arms )… and there’s no gun. Frantically, the ASM and Chino (and anyone nearby) search for the gun. No luck. The ASM is on the radio frantically calling for a hold, but nothing can be done. Unknowingly, Tony and Maria are running toward each other for their final embrace.

    Thinking on his feet, Chino runs onstage, grabs the first thing he could think of (his shoe), and throws it at Tony while screaming “POISON BOOT!”

    The shoe plunks off Tony’s back, and Tony froze for the slightest of moments before collapsing to the ground with a pained “Agghh!” as he realized what was happening. The moments that followed live on in our university’s lore, as our Maria was forced to continue with the charade through the end of the show… “How many boots are left Chino? Enough for you? For me?”

  • Demi Agapitos says:

    This past June I was assistant stage managing a dance show. The dancers were ages 3-9 years old. Getting them on and off stage was hard enough, but I never expected this. We couldn’t find Chloe anywhere and she had to go on in 2 mins. I found her in the bathroom crying. I ask her what’s wrong and she turned around to show me the back of her costume. From the middle of her back, all the way to her thighs, she was covered in feces. I got her cleaned up as best as I could and it was a miracle, I got her on stage and she started to dance. Halfway through she stops and is frozen downstage right. She starts crying and runs off across the stage. After she runs off another dancer slipped on stage…in a trail of feces that Chloe dropped running off stage. If that wasn’t bad enough, after we stopped the show to clean everything up and resumed, ten minutes into it the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate the building and fire trucks came. I don’t know how, but after everything we were able to finish this “shit show.”

  • Raisins_Liasons says:

    I was working backstage on a high school play (ages ago). I can’t remember the name of it now, but it was similar to Arsenic & Old Lace. The cast & crew of this show were particularly mischievous and we were always pranking each other. Since props are always fun to mess with, we swapped out a few for some inappropriate items. For payback, they duct taped me to the stage…and promptly forgot about me. But hey, it’s only a play!

  • Brandon says:

    I just got done stage managing a college ballet production of Romeo and Juliet. One night we had a fencing sword break and go into the audience. The sword cut an audience member in the cheek, but i did not stop the show. The dancers froze for a second and someone threw another sword out and they picked up the fight in the music. The act ended and the audience member was fine. The dancers were shaken but the rest of the night ran smoothly. I mean after all, it’s only a play(ballet).

  • Katie K says:

    I had a big solo in 42nd Street in high school. The entrance was in the dark, through the curtain opening, with tights but no shoes. I got through the curtain and went to make a sharp turn, and went right down because my tights were so slippery on the floor. I had just a few seconds to get up, get to my spot, and start the song, and then went backstage afterwards to inspect the bruising damage. It still sounded good though, and it’s only a play!

  • Kayla says:

    So I as well have two stories.

    The first was in 6/7th grade when my school was putting on a production of Kokonut Island. I was a part of the “villain duo” that consisted of myself and a boy playing my brother. Since there wasn’t much room backstage, before every show the director asked everyone to stay in this room (one door away) when they weren’t on set and that scene changes would be announced. The two of us start getting anxious one night as we start scene two but no one has come to announce anything. It turns out the already started the scene skipping a major setup for the rest of the show. It ended up involving close to ten of the main actors and quite a bit of improv throughout a good five scenes but somehow we did it. Nobody in the audience realized and said it was the best show of the weekend. Its a good thing it wasn’t a well known show, but hey, “it’s only a play!”

    The next occurence was more recent. One night during a run of Reefer Madness this past summer, one of the audience members kicked out the wire connecting to the lighting board which couldn’t be fixed until intermission. This caused a bit of confusion as some scenes were played with close to no lighting while others were played with full house lights. When it comes to my scene, I am supposed to be holding a town council meeting (house lights are on) and all the lights flash off unexpectedly. I continue by mentioning something about a storm (mentioned before in the show but isn’t significant until it helped cover up the lighting) affecting the lighting and then the sound guy proceeds to add a lightning sound effect. It definitely changed the scene a bit and was interesting to watch since that was the day the show was being recoded for the dvd…but “it’s only a play!”

  • Nancy Paris says:

    I was dancing in Atlanta for a corporate event and we were supposed to do a Vegas style opening number and then a hip hop number later in the show. Our flight was delayed and we arrived about 45 minutes prior to curtain, with no time for a run through or tech. We started the show, got through the Vegas number, and as we were exiting, the hop hop music kicked in, a BIG mistake. We were going to leave the stage but a voice from the wings kept shouting “DO THE NUMBER! DO THE NUMBER!” So we did – hip hop in sequins, feathers, and heels. I felt like Vanessa Williams in “Kiss of the spider Woman,” but then again….IT’S ONLY A PLAY.

  • Emily Herschbein says:

    The show begins with a bang, showcasing an all-cast number which we had probably spent the most time choreographing and perfecting. Vocals are as good as they get in middle school, and everything appears to be running smoothly except for the fact that the curtains are not open…

    That’s right. The pit orchestra had begun playing, and at the part where the curtains were supposed to open and we were to begin our routine; the curtains did not open but the performance did continue. Confused looks were shared between us all, and we didn’t known what to do so naturally we just did what we’d always done. We sang and we danced, and eventually the music stopped and we did again. This time with the audience in full view.

    Ah, well….IT’S ONLY A PLAY.

  • Cheyenne says:

    i was playing Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and during “Bushel and a Peck” my mic pac fell out of the holder and shattered on the floor. I quickly picked it up and had to put the remains in my bra for the rest of the song. Well since my mic was broken, I now had no mic for Adelaides big song “Adelaides Lament”. After having a mini panic attack stage left while a sound crew member ran to help me I ended up going on late for my entrance without a mic. Thank goodness I’ve got a big mouth. ITS ONLY A PLAY!

  • Keni Fine says:

    Most recently, a visit to a perennial Bway musical, and the lead actor flubbed/forgot his lines, um, like, at least 5 times… shoulda locked him up rather than the gals! It wasn’t great consolation to say, hey, It’s Only A Play1

  • Luci DeVoy says:

    When I was in high school I made it into the ensemble of “Oklahoma” at our local community theater. During the rehearsal process the dancers kept sliding around in these “cowboy” style boots that the director insisted we just had to have. She kept saying the stage would feel different and we would get some rosin or rubber for the actual performance. So the last two weeks come rolling around and still no resolve to this shoe issue. We ended up getting these sand paper like stickers from the local K-mart that are supposed to give your shoes some traction. Fine… they worked well enough. So final dress rehearsal comes around and we had a few minor slippage issues, No big deal really. Hooray. The show begins on opening night… “Kansas city” goes well, “Many a new day” goes great (we get to take the damn boots off) “dream ballet”-fantastic. Everybody is getting really into the show it feels great. Act II, The Farmer and the Cowman starts. Everyone is on our marks, the lines are landing well, the music starts and we all begin this cow poke heehaw showdown. Mid-number twirling plaid and cowboy hats set off in these concentric circles with press lifts each 8 counts. Well the dance captain Jennifer goes for a lift with her cowboy and her left foot goes flying taking her and the cowboy down with her. Unfortunately it also took down half of the chorus members down as momentum of the circles gets the better of you. We all begin blindly stacking up on top of each other like some sort of brokeback bunkhouse brawl. I am on the outside circle so I get enough time to stagger out of the way to see this all in slow motion from the upstage curtain I manage to stumble ass first into. The people who see it in time start staggering downstage out of the line of fire and have literally no where to go. So they are crashing into each other and one really clumsy girl falls backwards and hip checks Aunt Eller right off the edge of the stage into the orchestra pit where a very confused string section has no choice but to catch her. The end result was one broken wrist, a busted lip, a chipped tooth, several sprained ankles and a week delay on any other performances.
    This happened and there has to be a tape floating around my hometown in Michigan somewhere. youtube is waiting.
    It’s only a play.

  • Andrea says:

    I was Production Managing a dance book-in and the Director came into the process with a vision of having gasoline dripping from the ceiling (this was around the time of the Gulf spill). We were eventually able to talk her out of the “oil rig” it would have necessitated but couldn’t get rid of the gasoline substance entirely. To get the right consistency I suggested that they experiment with various stage blood recipes.

    They came to tech armed with three different options. We made it through tech AND dress without issue before it was decided that the stage blood wasn’t viscous enough. So at half hour of Opening stage management added some corn syrup to the blood recipe (which already had chocolate syrup to make it brown) and did a prayer.

    During the last scene of the 90 minute show the stage blood had been poured all over the dancers and had begun to dry. Their bare, sticky feet made popping sounds as they moved across the marley and anywhere they touched, they would rip hair off of each other’s bodies when they broke contact. The theatre smelled like a chocolate pudding cup.

    We needed to have the soft goods dry cleaned and fire treated after the show closed.

  • Carter Ford says:

    I was playing Father in Alan Ayckbourn’s “The Dining Room”. If you don’t know the show, it takes place in one dining room showing different stories from different decades of those different families who have lived there and as one scene ends another from another decade begins. In this scene my son, whom was being played by a girl around the same age as me, believes that his new innovated teacher, Miss Kelly, knows more than his mother. I then have a monologue explaining that no matter if your mother is wrong, she is your mother and in this house your parents are always right (this happens while the mother walks in to join us for breakfast). My final line is: “Now who is right? Your mother or Miss Kelly. Her line (the son’s line) is “My mother”, but she said “Miss Kelly”. I looked up at her and casual moved my head towards the audience staying in character, but noticing my director’s jaw has dropped for this was opening night. I then improvise, “Guess again, son”. In confusion she then says “Miss Kelly?”. The actress playing my wife hides behind her newspaper because she does not know how to go on without the correct line. I ask my wife for a few sections of the newspaper, roll it up in my hand, and say “Son, I think we have to take a trip upstairs before I take you to school” I show him to the door, kiss my wife, and make our usual exit.

    Everyone backstage were so confused and very impressed with my ad-lib, but it was it only natural. Lastly, I asked the actress playing my son why she said Miss Kelly both times… She responded… “Well, I said my line the first time, but when you said guess again, I thought I must have memorized it wrong so I said the opposite”

    Well… it’s only a play right?

  • Zak West says:

    My junior year of college I was playing Dick in Dame at Sea. We are in one of our final nights of tech and the show was coming together! We reached the final song “Let’s Have a Simple Wedding” (or as I liked to think of it “Let’s have everyone complete an insanely fast quick change for the fifth time tonight”) and we had managed to run the show without any major blunders!

    Our set consisted of several panels that could spin and a small hollow gun turret with two doors leading out to the stage and a hole in the back of it to climb in from offstage.

    As we finished the penultimate song I quickly changed my shoes for the finale and climbed into the gun turret. Erin, my Ruby, and I were the third couple to enter. Every night I would listen as the first two couples sang their verses and silently cheer as each couple made it onstage as it meant the quick changes were a success. As the first couple begins to sing I am wondering where exactly Erin is…

    I hear her running behind the back wall towards the hole to climb into the turret and am surprised when she runs right by the hole and keeps going. The second couple begins singing and I am wondering what on earth Erin could possibly be doing when I hear her running again….right past the hole for a second time. At this point I realize that something is very wrong and begin brainstorming how I can possibly get through my “Simple Wedding” without a bride. I hear Erin once again running backstage, missing the hole for a third time and then a fourth time. Suddenly there is a loud crash four feet to the side of the hole.

    My verse starts and I enter the stage without my bride only to have her run on a few lines late, limping, fake eyelash hanging off of her face, wearing one tap shoe and one wedding shoe. Erin had panicked and couldn’t find the hole to climb in the turret and in her adrenaline she ran head first into the wall thinking it was the hole.

    Everyone laughed as we finished out the performance and at notes our director couldn’t help but laugh at all of us as she reminded us that, it’s only a play!

  • Liz Wollman says:

    The firecrackers we used in the high school production of You Can’t Take It With You were drained of powder, except one night, the crew forgot to drain them and I had to do the rest of the scene, as Penelope, without being able to hear anything except an alarming ringing in my ears.

  • Kimberly says:

    When you are in the audience of your first Broadway show and your water breaks. You scream and stop the show. It’s only a play!

  • Robin says:

    In college I was working backstage on a production of Summerfolk. During the first act, a set piece came crashing down onto stage between scenes instead of disappearing up into the rafters. The 45 second scene change was extended to over five minutes as we tried unsuccessfully to lift the piece up. We eventually gift taped it to a pole in the stage right wing so only about 25% of the piece was visible for the rest of the show…at least it didn’t land on anyone.

  • Priyanka Krishnan says:

    This time, last year, I played Dorothy in a Children’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Toto was played by a rather poorly made stuffed toy glued to the bottom of a handheld cane basket I carried.
    When the time came for our rather over enthusiastic Lion to bite Toto’s head off, the Lion’s mane got tangled around the toy’s neck, and as the lion pulled away…Toto’s head got pulled off, and flew into the first row.
    That was the day we scarred about 200 six-year olds for life.

  • Brandon S says:

    I was fresh out of high school and working crew for a summer production of The Nerd. In the first act Clelia Waldgrave, the neurotic schoolteacher at the end of her rope, smashes a saucer with a hammer on the coffee table. Because our coffee table had a glass center, a stack of thick magazines was used to soften the blow. One night apparently nobody noticed that one or two of the magazines had disappeared and when Clelia brought the hammer down on the saucer, the coffee table shattered. The show went on and fortunately nobody was injured in the subsequent scene where the cast was blindfolded and dancing around the stage barefoot. During intermission, the crew took the table backstage, duct taped a giant piece of plywood to it, and in the opening scene of Act 2, one of the actresses grimaced and explained that the play’s title character had “fixed it.” What seemed a catastrophe at the time ended up being the most exciting performance of the run. But hey…it’s only a play!

  • Priyanka Krishnan says:

    And after the show, we mad it a point to explain to the children that It’s Only a Play!

  • Sue Cohen says:

    In high school, I missed my cue at the dress rehearsal of the first show I acted in. The director stopped the show and we had to start the whole thing over. Thankfully that didn’t happen on opening night. It’s only a play!

  • Byron A says:

    Working as an ASM on a production of The Full Monty, during an early preview. We had the moment that every actor doing that show fears. That’s right, the final light cues were messed up (something to do with a dimmer getting stuck and not responding to the signal from the board). So there was no final blackout, just six guys standing there with it all hanging out, and a board op who panicked and took about 10 seconds to realize that she could just hit the grand master to take everything out.

  • Julia Fu says:

    The first production of Into the Woods I ever saw was at my hometown community theater, which had the expected limitations in available men. Rapunzel’s Prince was played – very nicely – by a middle aged gentleman who wore a wig on his completely bald pate.

    In his reunion scene with Rapunzel, the wig made a run for it as the Prince blindly fell to the ground. He desperately clutched at it and was able to resettle it as Rapunzel cried into his eyes. Rising, he exclaimed, “I can see again! And, my hair’s grown back!” Cue hilarity.

    Still my favorite on stage save, and as always, it’s only a play!

  • Zach Kelley says:

    I was in an original Christmas show called Humbug and one of the scenes was a bunch of ghosts, demons, etc dancing and singing to thriller in a graveyard with Scrooge. There was like 4 fog machines used during the scene and they were so good that the fire alarm went off and stayed on for the rest of the show. The show went on with the alarm as background music, it was interesting. It’s only a play!

  • Rick Stutzel says:

    I was the lead in a completely forgettable 3 act comedy. Acts 2 and 3 ended with me answering the phone. One night, the same evening a giant Florida roach came flying around the stage, I answered the second act call with the third act lines! I was getting really ticked off, because my cast mates kept screaming things at me when they were supposed to be quiet…then I realized what was happening and shifted gears to roars of laughter from the audience. It’s only a play!

  • Howard Levitsky says:

    I was playing in the pit for the original 1st national tour of ANNIE. It was a deep pit with the conductor on a high platform so his face was at stage level down center. One show, during “Tomorrow,” the conductor suddenly started speeding up the tempo, more and more and more. He looked panicky and leaned down to the players near him who started looking around and handing him paper towels and similar things as the song raced on. We soon got to the end of the song and scene and I had to wait until intermission to find out what had happened. Apparently, the dog Sandy had started copiously peeing during the song and it was heading straight down the raked stage right to the conductor. He was trying to get the scene over with quickly so he could mop up the urine on his podium and score before he had to conduct again. To say he was pissed off – literally – would be an understatement. Oh well, it’s only a play!

  • Mark B says:

    This is one of my favorite stories. In 2006, Les Miserables was wrapping it’s national tour. When Gavroche comes out to announce the death of LaMarque, all of the students turn upstage and a spotlight hits him on his line. This particular night, the moment comes, the spotlight hits its mark and there is nothing. However, his mic was on offstage and you hear this tiny, chipmunk of a voice freaking out “I’m never gonna make. I’m never gonna make it. I’M NEVER GONNA MAKE IT!” The entire onstage cast is shaking with laughter. Nobody can look downstage. My buddy is crying. It’s one of those live theatre moments that will live forever. It’s only a show 😉

  • Brandon P says:

    I was 11 and playing the title role in PETER PAN. The set for the underground hideout featured a large staircase on wheels (re-purposed from the theater’s production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC earlier that summer) and rather than build a platform on stage for the staircase to connect to, the director/designer decided to just have the top of the staircase hidden off-stage. Backstage space was so limited that they were unable to build an escape stair, so we had to climb a ladder to get to the small landing at the top. For one scene, several “Indians” and I were supposed to enter from the top of the stairs. In order for us to all come running down the staircase at once, we had to all scrunch together on the landing and wait for our entrance. Well, one night we were waiting to enter when suddenly the stairs started to block our view of the action on-stage and before we knew it…BAM. Our weight at the top had caused the whole staircase to tip over backwards! All the girls came toppling onto me and we were trapped between the hanging legs and the cyc (which now had a giant tear in it). Several crew members had to lift us over the handrail to escape. It was seriously scary at the time, but in the end…it’s only a play!

  • Seth says:

    It actually WAS during “Something’s Comin.” Difficult song, I guess, eh?
    I was conducting the orchestra and Tony missed a lyric, so I had to keep the orchestra on beat. Then Tony skipped a verse. So I had to keep the orchestra on track. Then Tony decided to end the song.
    So… I had to cut the orchestra to the playoff.
    And then there were several other moments during the run of the show that I won’t even mention!

  • Dean Lance says:

    I was interning at a music and arts camp upstate when I was 16. (Actually quite a few now well-known people who ended up on Broadway, television and stage managing went there as well.) I was recruited by the director to be one of “The Men” (the gangsters) in “Kiss Me, Kate.” Wearing a fedora and an appropriate costume, I added a prop for each entrance (walking on with a violin case or flipping a coin à la George Raft. But I had one line that was repeated in a subsequent scene inverted: “If I had to do something to a high-type fella like that, “I’d cry like a baby if I had to do something to a high-type fella like that, “and then: “If I had to do something to a high-type fella like that—I’d cry like a baby!” When it came up the first time, I couldn’t remember which way it went. The kid playing Fred Graham panicked when I whispered out of the side of my mouth as we’re on the wing stage right that I’d forgotten my line. The entire audience, the pit orchestra and the conductor were all looking at me waiting for the rhythm to continue and what was only a millisecond seemed like an eternity. (We’ve all had those dreams where this has happened!) Fortunately the my gangster partner had the foresight to skip to the next line and the omission went completely unnoticed. Big whew! In the next scene, when I had to do the other version of the line, having gotten through that, I hammed it up by whimpering into a red bandana as a handkerchief on “cry like a baby” and blew my nose into it making a loud sputtering trumpet sound which always gets a laugh, redeemed.

  • Rachel Feldman says:

    I am part of a student production company out of my university. We were set to do The Crucible for a two week run in a black box theatre on campus. Two days before we opened we were informed that there was a huge event hosted by the president the first weekend and the building was going to be closed (lots of miscommunication). Needless to say, 2 days before we opened we had to change from a 80 seat thrust to a 150 seat proscenium. It was a very long 2 days.

  • Kimothy says:

    I was a teenaged AEA actor when I got a call on a summer Saturday from a desperate producer. The package tour of THE LION IN WINTER he was producing was opening it’s next engagement on Monday and the actor playing John needed to be replaced. The producer said he knew I’d played the role before (a year ago!) and could I go into the show on Monday night? I would be walked through the blocking on Sunday on the set by the advance stage manager and get one put in with the cast on Monday afternoon.
    I said yes and the “fun” began. The production starred George C. Scott as Henry and Colleen Dewhurst as Eleanor. They were both amazing actors, married but not too happily at that point and consuming large amounts of alcoholic “relief.” Monday came, the cast arrived for the put in rehearsal EXCEPT for Mr. Scott. Colleen greeted me warmly, explaining “George is a bit under the weather but he’ll be with us tonight.” We ran all the scenes in the play involving me as John with the stage manager “playing” Henry by reading his lines in from the wings! So…onward to places for the opening…I have still not met Mr. Scott playing my father, King Henry. Cast is called to places…I’m standing in the wings waiting for my entrance in Act I when Mr. Scott is suddenly standing next to me. He looks down at me and says…”You’re the new John?” ME: “Yes…” GCS: “Are you afraid of me?” ME: “Should I be?” GCS: “We’re about to find out!” I heard my cue line and rushed onstage to play the first scene. The remainder of my run with Colleen and George was never less than terrifying but NEVER dull.

  • Tess Nielsen says:

    I just MD’d a new Christmas production of “Ebenezer” this December. Wonderful cast and crew! Really great people and a young, creative environment. We started the first musical rehearsals and everyone sounded fantastic. Meanwhile the producers found out they could not use the theater space we had planned on. Not such a big problem–maybe a problem in our favor, because the company found a great venue for a stage in Atlantic City. In fact, it was a beautiful, authentic 1920’s venue in one of the most popular casino resorts on the boardwalk. We did not feel nervous at all, and kept rehearsing.

    The day came to move the show into the new theater space. Well, the platforms didn’t fit, there was not wing space, and the furniture the company rented was HUGE on this new stage! The blocking fell apart during tech week. Our patient and creative director re-worked us all, we solved problem after problem to get the show to look great. Actors and crew worked their butts off to achieve theater magic–because after all “it’s only a play!”

  • Kevin S says:

    National tour of the Scarlet Pimpernel, I was the Prince of Wales / Robespierre. This story actually starts the week before the on-stage mishap. While walking from our hotel to a bar in Jersey, I somehow got an infection in my foot. That developed into a really bad circulatory issue by the time we had made it across Pennsylvania, where this infection also gave me flu-like symptoms.

    That brings us to a performance in Erie, PA. I had been feeling uneasy, and my foot had swollen up – black and blue and barely fitting in my boot. A few minutes before going on to deliver some lines to Percy, I started uncontrollably vomiting. I could hear the scene progressing on the monitors and my entrance getting closer and closer. Finally I willed myself to stop, stuffed seven mints in my mouth, and headed to the stage. With mint-filled chipmunk cheeks I made my entrance without a second to spare.

    What I had not expected was the crazy amount of extra saliva in my mouth thanks to those mints. I spent the entire scene spitting in Percy’s face, we’re talking monsoon season here. I felt bad for my friend playing the lead, but he stood there and took it like a pro. Despite feeling progressively worse as the show went on, I finished it. I couldn’t even walk on my foot after getting out of my boots and the stage manager took me to the hospital – where I wound up staying for nine days.

    So what did I take away from this experience? I’ve learned not to wear open toed shoes in Jersey, it still remains as the only time I’ve ever been in the hospital, and I wasn’t able to rejoin the tour, but hey – it’s only a play!

  • David Rigano says:

    In 5th grade the school production of Hans Christian Anderson opened with my best friend and I sitting on a wagon. He had the first line and I hag the second. Opening night, we sang the opening number then he stood up to say his line and the next thing I knew, I was flay on my back looking up at the lights. The weight had shifted in the wagon and I fell backwards.

  • Diane Tipton says:

    Many years ago, I was in a showcase production of “Thirteen Clocks”. My part wasn’t large and I wasn’t especially concerned about the performance. About five minutes to curtain, the director came to my dressing room and said, “The actor that plays the Jackolent didn’t show. I need you to learn his lines and do the part. You are the only one that isn’t in a scene with him, so you need to do both parts. Bye, break a leg.” I nearly broke HIS. So, while I waited for my entrances backstage, I was frantically trying to memorize the new lines and not forget my old ones. The result remains with me today. Any time I am extremely stressed about anything, I have a dream that I am in a play but I have to learn the lines scene by scene immediately before I have to go out and say them. But, It’s Only A Play!

  • Joseph Giglio says:

    In a production of Social Security we had an actor who would occasionally go up on his lines. So we all knew his lines as well as our own lines to help if he forgot. Well one night in the middle of the first act he decided to start using the lines in the second act scene we had together. Well needless to say we had a mess on our hands but lucky for us we all knew the play totally and managed to get the train back on the right track and into the correct act. I can say this now because the actor of whom I speak is now in that great theater in the sky looking down on us mortals and Laughing. But its only a play after all ~!!!

  • Nathan Clift says:

    I have two…
    One: it was my first show (It was High School Musical). At the end, the Wildcats win. I was supposed to run up this 2 foot platform and jump off. Well, I was running up it, tripped onto it and fell off the platform. My dad and sister were in the audience and laughing (my mom saw the show the night prior and told them how coordinated I was)I jumped up and kept going.

    Two: over the summer, I was in CHILDREN OF EDEN. After “Let there be”, the house lights come up and our director runs from the sound booth to announce that something had gone wrong technically and we will take a 2 minute break. Our actor playing Father runs offstage. The ensemble begins talking to the audience (and breaking character. Ugh.) and moments later, Father came back on. Apparently, his mic had died half way through the opening.

    You know what? It’s only a play… Well… Musical, actually

  • Dean Lance says:

    That didn’t post correctly. If at first you don’t succeed…so the second post is (hopefully) the charm!

    I was interning at a music and arts camp upstate when I was 16. (Actually quite a few now well-known people who ended up on Broadway, television, writing, producing and stage managing went there as well.) I was recruited by the camp’s director to be one of “The Men” in their production of “Kiss Me, Kate.” Wearing a fedora and an appropriate gangster’s costume, I added a prop for each entrance (walking on with a violin case or flipping a coin à la George Raft.) But I had one line that was repeated in a subsequent scene, inverted: “I’d cry like a baby if I had to do something to a high-type fella like that,” and then: “If I had to do something to a high-type fella like that—I’d cry like a baby!”

    When it came up the first time, I couldn’t remember which way it went and went blank. The kid playing Fred Graham panicked when I whispered out of the side of my mouth as we’re on the wing, stage right that I’d forgotten my line. The entire audience, the pit orchestra and the conductor were all staring at me waiting for the rhythm to continue and what was only a millisecond seemed like an eternity. (We’ve all had those dreams where this has happened!) Fortunately, my gangster partner had the foresight to skip to the line that followed and the omission went completely unnoticed. Big whew! In the next scene, when I had to do the other version of the line, having gotten through that, I hammed it up by whimpering into a red bandana as a handkerchief on “cry like a baby” and blew my nose into it making a loud sputtering trumpet sound which always gets a laugh, relieved and redeemed. It’s only a play!

  • Larry Abramsky says:

    MIMI HINES went up on her opening lyrics for BROADWAY BABY in the Encore production of FOLLIES. She stopped the orchestra and kibbitzed with the conductor as if it was part of the show, then started up again and killed the number. It’d only a play AND Mimi covered herself like a super pro!

  • Amy V Morse says:

    I was in a production of “Romance Language” playing Louis May Alcott and a good friend was playing Bronson Alcott, her father. Towards the end of the play, Bronson is SUPPOSED to enter and say “Louey!” Instead, my good friend, who’d been goofing off in the wings and had an out-of-body experience once he realized that he was late for his entrance, wandered on stage, looked around, finally looked at me and said, “Oh. Louisa.” (pause. pause.) “How are you?”

    Yes, I beat him up afterwards. But hey, it’s only a play!

  • Alice Jankell says:

    I was Tony Kushner’s assistant when we were first mounting ANGELS IN AMERICA and PERESTROIKA at The Taper, 23 years ago. It was an enormous undertaking. Tech had to be extended, we couldn’t get the angel to fly, Tony was finishing the rewrites on PERESTROIKA, the Pulitzer people kept calling, and we had to post-pone the first preview, but we knew we were dealing with something different, something extraordinary.
    Then came the day in rehearsal that Tony turned to me and said, “Ok, here’s PERESTROIKA. It’s done. Please go print it out.” And he handed me a disc.
    Now, nobody had personal computers. The web didn’t exist. We didn’t even use cell phones. Grasping the disc, I left the theater, crossed the street, and went into the next building to the theater offices. I stared at the big computer, carefully popped in the disc, held my breath, pressed a button, and…ERASED PERESTROIKA by mistake!
    Understanding that I had just ruined the American theatrical cannon, I started to cry and think about Law School. Weeping, I slunk back to Tony and admitted, between sobs, that I had mistakenly erased the disc. He looked at me, laughed and said, “You think I would give you the only copy?”
    Thank God and Tony, I’m still in the business today!

  • Sylvie says:

    When I was in a production of Cabaret and the chord connected to all of the lights got detached and there was a mechanism in the theater that made the house lights go up if there was a tech mishap. So the house lights went up, then the techies were able to connect the chord again and turn the house lights off. However, they had lost all of the lighting cues so they had to go through all of the cues all in the middle of Maybe This Time.

    That or the time I was in Bye Bye Birdie and the table in the MacAfee house broke and improvising, Mr. MacAfee said, “I knew we shouldn’t have bought such a cheap table!” to Mrs. MacAfee.

  • Laurie B. says:

    I was in a sketch comedy show at a small 99 seat theater in LA and the air conditioner broke. The air conditioner was dripping water on the stage. The owner of the theater/director mopped up the floor and started the show. Right away a puddle started forming directly in the center of the stage and no plans of action were made to mop up the thing. Towards the end of the show actors were slipping and sliding and basically performing ANYWHERE but centerstage where essentially a lake had now formed! It was awful!

  • Katharine Vacca says:

    On opening of a production of Phantom of the Opera I was Production Managing last year, our crew were doing a final test of all of our tech. As they tested the magical boat that is meant to drift across the stage.. the motor died. One hour before curtain.

    As I was in the audience this night, the producer and myself were watching the show and as it came to the lair scene, instead of a boat gliding across a stage of smoke, we saw 3 of our crew members pulling the boat across the stage.. In black morph suits. We had no idea what was going on but to top this off – the other magical element of the show (the epic chandelier drop at the end of act one) was jammed and instead of crashing onto the stage, slowly jilted it’s way down in very awkward motions and left us wanting to cry at the end of act one. For the wrong reasons.

  • Faith Yesner says:

    It was final dress of the comedy The Odd Couple, female version, and with a viewing audience. I was the neurotic one..Flo. Something very funny happened while I was off stage waiting to come on…my next scene involved being chased into a bedroom by all my women friends who are trying to prevent me from hurting myself! While in the closet, one of them tells me what occurred onstage and let’s just say…the floodgates opened and I was in an uncontrollable hysteria, tears streaming down my face….AND my legs. Oh yes…I did. This was not a dribble..this was a flood…puddle and all. It was a true show stopper, as we had to stop the dress while I rummaged thru costumes to change!!! But hey…it’s only a play!!

  • Veronique says:

    In college I was in the Female Version of The Odd Couple. I was on stage with my co star when one of the girls was meant to waltz in the front door, however the door was jammed and she couldn’t enter so me and my costar attempted to improvise a scene while the director ran around backstage to unhinge the door. There the director stood holding the door in place for the remainder of the performance. Yep, his fingers on the frame of the door were visible to the audience. I’ll never forget the direction he gave us before the show, “Be funny.” It’s only a play indeed!

  • Phil I says:

    In high school, I was in charge of operating the Audrey II puppet during our production of Little Shop of Horrors. For 2/3 of our shows the puppet functioned nicely and beautifully. However, during “Feed Me” on closing night, things took an unfortunate turn. As our offstage voice of Audrey II was wailing the song away, I began to notice the top half of the puppet loosen. When we reached the riffing section, (aka most active) the top part just popped off, revealing myself and causing gasps in the audience. The voice still sang, as he couldn’t see what had happened, so I panicked and used my arm as the other half of the mouth for the remainder of the song. It was so embarrassing but we were thankfully able to fix it up for the rest of the show.

  • Jeff says:

    I was in a production of Tis Pity She’s a Whore. There was a scene in which I found out my wife was sleeping with her brother – I bend down to grab her by the hair and my pants split. I was wearing orange boxers and i was mortified. Went backstage after I was done w my stage combat scene and bent over for the ASM and yelled LOOK! She got me a new pair of pants, but it was a nightmare.

  • Mel Chad says:

    My first play in NY I played a 60s girl whose boyfriend asks her to do something she feels is morally wrong and so they break up. The end of the show, my character sits with her sister and she wonders why they broke up. My character responds with “he asked something of me that I just couldn’t do…” At that exact moment, the woman playing my mother was supposed to start singing (as if from inside the household cooking or whatnot to set the tone for the close of the show). But instead, we hear her almost choking with laughter, trying to get the words out. We had no idea what was going on but we tried not to laugh ourselves. When we get backstage, we ask her what happened. The guy who played the boyfriend ashamedly came over saying “I forgot she was about to sing, and in response to your line onstage, I whispered in her ear: Ya- I asked for anal” (FYI that wasn’t the case in the actual show, but I bet it would have made things a lot more interesting)

  • Allison M says:

    My favorite story involves Big Bird’s head falling off and rolling into the audience while onstage during Sesame Street Live. So many scarred children that day…

  • Cara Corradetti says:

    I was an onstage audience member at Spring Awakening a few years back. A few scenes into the show, one of the audience members in the row behind me tried to reach out and touch Alexandra Socha during one of the musical numbers. As a security guard from the Eugene O’Neill theatre tried to escort the man offstage, a punch was thrown, and before we knew it there was a full on brawl happening. A few members of the cast got up, grabbed those of us seated on that side of the stage, and we all ran backstage to safety.

    We stood backstage with the cast for a bit while security removed the audience member. Eventually the stage manager sent us back to take our seats, and then sent the cast back on to pick up the scene where they left off. At intermission our usher didn’t even know what to say! After the show we got to chat with the cast and everyone had a good laugh about what a crazy situation it was. If I hadn’t lived it, I don’t know if I’d believe it! But hey, the show must always go on – it’s only a play!

  • Paul Kennedy says:

    I helped start a student theatre company in college and our first big (and ambitious) production was Avenue Q. Much of our volunteer crew’s time was spent building the puppets and on opening night the crew was still rushing desperately to finish constructing the set which was only finished a few minutes before the house opened. Half way through the first act a large foam cornice on one of the apartments fell off right as the lights were coming up after a scene change. The young lady playing the part of Gary Coleman (and superintendent of Avenue Q) walked on stage, shrugged, improvised a line about not getting their security deposit back, and proceeded to drag the foam off stage as if it was really made of concrete. Hey, it’s only a play!

  • sheryl wiener says:

    I am running lights for a production of A Crhistmas Carol. The person sitting in the light booth with me moves his chair and inadvertently unplugs the lightboard which blacks out the stage. The cast, thinking I just made a mistake and cut the lights on the scene too early, starts the set change. I, not really thinking, instead of bringing the dimmers down to 0, scramble to find the plug and plug the board back in to the power strip, thus bringing full stage lights up on our cast in the middle of the set change. “IT’S ONLY A PLAY”.

  • Solange De Santis says:

    I was sound designer and sound operator on a community theater production of “Charley’s Aunt.” There was a dummy piano onstage and several piano music sound cues that had to be carefully coordinated with the actions of the actor. Well, everything is going swimmingly when all of a sudden in the middle of a scene *with no one near the piano*, one of the piano music sound cues starts playing.

    Well, luckily there is a party scene offstage so it sounds like it maybe isn’t a mistake, but I bring the sliders down *and the music is still playing.* Dear God, how is this possible?

    What happened? The theater had just gone from CDs to digital files and the tech guy had forgotten to insert a stop after the previous piano sound cue. When I brought the sliders down, the cue did not play in the house anymore, but was still playing in the booth. Naturally, I thought it was the sound cue that wouldn’t die.

    No worries, it’s only a play!

  • Ed Friedman says:

    Production of The Odd Couple in the 1980’s. I’m playing Felix. In the first act during the poker
    game when Felix comes in, he breaks down talking about how his wife threw him out. I had my head in my hands and I did not see what was taking place. I heard the audience laughing because one of the flats that was one of the walls of the apartment started to collapse. What I didn’t see was that the guy playing Oscar took off one of his shoes and banged the nails in, that were holding up the flat. I did, however, hear him say, they just don’t make these apartments the way they used to”, to thunderous applause. Well, It’s Only A Play.

  • C Don says:

    Was running lights for a show in made space in a college’s main hall, using lights that were rarely used. Tech was fine, but the second we hit the lights during the actual show, they overloaded the circuits and completely went out. 5 times. The projections were still working, providing some light, so the actors gamely went on. In the end, we had to run extension cords to another room to get the main lights working, fortunately all during opening monologues that were supposed to be kinda atmospheric anyway. Oh well, it’s only a play!

  • In middle school we did a production of “Rumours”. In my first scene I ran on and completely wiped out flat on my face. You can only imagine the comments I got from a bunch of immature 8th graders. In my next scene, I forgot my belt and my pants were at least two sizes too big (low budg costume design, friends). I was holding onto my pants for dear life during a scene and pulled it off pretty well! It’s only a play!

  • Tony P says:

    I was working the sound board of a production of Hello Dolly because the sound guy had the flu and i drove in and took the reins, without the benefit of a tech. When Dolly appeared in the middle of the Harmonia Gardens scene, it was instantly clear that her mic had gone out. Dolly sang “Hello Harry,” and gave the briefest of cross looks up to the booth, and scurried down stage and belted out the title song for Jesus! Her projection was so great, the audience had no idea, and gave her a standing ovation at the end of the song. Then she finished the scene by talking DIRECTLY INTO THE MIC of whomever she was talking to, even if it meant grabbing a passing waiter. There were some surprised waiters in Harmonia Gardens that day, but It’s Only A Play!

  • Brendan says:

    When playing Willy Wonka in a children’s theatre production the prerecorded tracks stopped. There I am about to start singing a big production number a capella when the director comes onstage to stop the show. I said “Thank God!” and ran offstage. We learned later that an old woman in a rascal had ran over/pulled the power cord. It’s only a play.

  • Morgan Barba says:

    Hate to write this publicly….

    During the finale of my very last high school show (set in a very small, intimate theater) I was involved in a dance in which 10 of us were paired to do a couples’ dance. Long story short, my foot got caught in my partner’s (and long time friend’s) and he tripped right on stage… Almost off stage. The moment caught us both off guard so much that we began laughing and completely broke character. I broke character, so much in fact, that I peed my pants.

    It just so happens, my “pants” for that scene were only tights and a leotard.

    I know remember the closing of my last high school show to be in urine-soaked tights.

    It’s only a play!

  • Michael Rossi says:

    I performed as Dr. Chasuble in my high school production of The Importance of Being Earnest. On our last show we had a huge crowd and they were just dying of laughter at everything Algernon (played by my good friend Ryan) was doing on stage. For some odd reason I felt the urge to one up him and get the crowd really going. So in the final scene where all the characters are on stage I normally would reach for one of the krimpets that were on the table during the scene while the character of Jack was monologuing. He would naturally slap them from my hand when he would see me reach for one. So, on the last night, I picked one up and before Jack could slap the krimpet from my hand I threw it in his face! This caused him to pick one up and throw one back. This caused everyone on stage to break character and start laughing and the audience roared with laughter. The show eventually did go on but it’s safe to say that I succeeded in being the funniest one in the show but at the expense of being true to my character who was indeed a priest. I will always be remembered as the one who started a food fight on my high school stage, but I’m sure it would have won the approval of Oscar Wilde himself!

    • Michael Rossi says:

      I performed as Dr. Chasuble in my high school production of The Importance of Being Earnest. On our last show we had a huge crowd and they were just dying of laughter at everything Algernon (played by my good friend Ryan) was doing on stage. For some odd reason I felt the urge to one up him and get the crowd really going. So in the final scene where all the characters are on stage I normally would reach for one of the krimpets that were on the table during the scene while the character of Jack was monologuing. He would naturally slap them from my hand when he would see me reach for one. So, on the last night, I picked one up and before Jack could slap the krimpet from my hand I threw it in his face! This caused him to pick one up and throw one back. This caused everyone on stage to break character and start laughing and the audience roared with laughter. The show eventually did go on but it’s safe to say that I succeeded in being the funniest one in the show but at the expense of being true to my character who was indeed a priest. I will always be remembered as the one who started a food fight on my high school stage, but I’m sure it would have won the approval of Oscar Wilde himself! It’s only a play!!

  • Corine Cohen says:

    I was in a production of Macbeth in the second grade. I forgot my lines and made it up as I went along which cracked up the cast and I got a standing ovation. It was really embarrassing but seems like it was a big hit. I was only in second grade and I made up words for Shakespeare. I don’t act for a reason.

    Hope I win these tickets as I saw it once and it was my favorite play this season. Would love to see Martin Short as he is one of my favorites.

  • Corine Cohen says:

    I screwed up Shakespeare. Thankfully it was in the Second Grade. It’s Only A Play.

  • Bert P says:

    I was Bobby in a regional production of Crazy for You, and in a scene in Act II Polly is supposed to enter with a telegram from Bobby’s mother. Well, it turns out the actress playing Polly had forgotten it so I had to improv the entire rest of the scene (the telegram is super important to the scene) much to the director’s dismay, but we pulled it off, and the audience was none the wiser! I mean, in hindsight, “it’s only a play!”

  • Lisa W. says:

    I was in a showcase and my partner and I were performing “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity, complete with singing and dancing. Unfortunately, my heel broke, and I had to continue the number trying to look sexy while limping…some people are in to limps, hopefully, besides….”it’s only a play”

  • EllenFD says:

    I was playing the maid in a high school production of THE ROMANCERS, the basis for THE FANTASTICKS. I had a line of dialogue, “Monsieur Percinet is gone!” At one performance, I ran to downstage center and projected in a desperate, anxious voice, “Monsieur Percinet is gone!” to chuckles from the audience. I turned to see the actor playing him standing near–not in–the wing, He thought he was out of sight, obviously, but wasn’t.

  • Oh my goodness, where to start? Opening night of Misalliance, when the actress playing Mrs. Tarleton went up on her lines in the first scene and it seemed to take forever to get her back on track. No many how many times I prompted her (I played Hypatia), she didn’t seem to know where she was. And to top it all off, every single person in that cast got a great review from OOBR, except for me. Or the time I was playing Maria in Twelfth Night and I was late, and missed my chance to cross the stage before the lights went up and I had to make my entrance from a completely part of the stage.

  • polly says:

    For the road tour of Will Rodgers’ Follies, we had to get a horse for Larry Gatlin to ride out on and I am NOT a horse person but it was on me to find one. The one I got seemed gentle enough and went thru all the rehearsals fine. On opening night I was watching in the balcony and Larry rode the horse out fine, dismounted and the guy who was supposed to lead the horse off stage evidently pulled the wrong rein and the horse started to buck and refused to get off the stage. The horse fell over and almost rolled into the orchestra pit much to the paralyzing fear of the musicians. Eventually they got the horse off stage and the next day, Larry had someone bring one of his horses from Nashville over for us to use the rest of the week. It’s only a play (musical)!

  • Kahlie says:

    My senior year of high school I was cast in a major community production of Footloose. It was a small chorus part but over two thousand people would be there each night and I was so proud of myself. My family could only afford to come opening night so I made sure everything was perfect that night. It went great… until the finale. I was furiously dancing along with the cast when suddenly I start to feel a breeze that wasn’t there before. Then something moves across my back and I realize with horror that the zipper on my halter top dress has completely split and the whole thing is hanging on by two thin strips of satin around my neck and the bottom of the dress. I quickly reach around and hold it together with one hand and keep dancing one handed trying desperately not to fall over. A turn is coming up and I can’t decide which is worse, letting over two thousand people see the back of my bra and underwear or missing my curtain call on the only night my family can come. I try dancing with both hands holding my dress together. It doesn’t work and I almost fall over. Finally I decide to run backstage for help. I bolt off, dodging dancing cast members left and right and grab the only crew member I can find. He desperately tries to safety pin me back together but by the time he’s done I’ve missed my curtain call and my line of dancers has moved to the back. Oh well, It’s Only A Play!

  • monica vega says:

    when i was 6 i was cast in the nutcracker. when it came time for my part, i totally froze…ironically, i was just a toy doll! C’est la vie it’s only a play 🙂

  • Ellen Cohn says:

    While attending Spalding Gray’s “Monster in the Box” at Lincoln Center in beautiful orchestra seats; a couple behind me were having an argument.

    Despite constant shushing from those around us, they continued throughout the entire performance on and off in a tit for tat style as they thought up their retorts and at full voice throughout the entire show. But for an occasional pause from Mr. Gray he continued without missing a beat of his story. Could certainly a great opening scene in any play. There Mr. Gray was sharing his story of being the Stage Manager in Our Town whereby the little boy in the cemetery scene projectile vomited into the front row. I submit his story posthumously.

  • Morgan M says:

    I’m a front of house manager and I was working on a successful musical downtown that had sold out performances from its first preview. During a press performance right as the last song of the show was starting (4 minutes left before the audience was going to leave) a man burst through the theatre doors into the lobby doubled over – puking. He was projectile vomiting and his hand was doing nothing to stop it from covering the entirety of the lobby floor as he ran out the door and down the street, where he continued to puke. To his credit he was also apologizing profusely as he fled. It was horrifying. I had 4 minutes to clean up a lot of puke. One of my bartenders happened to be in the lobby and she helped me roll up the rugs and door mats and put them outside in the street and then we cleaned up the puke from what was luckily a concrete floor and very forgiving of liquid messes. Needless to say we did it just in the knick of time, as if it was scripted. It was a high stress and disgusting situation. I still remember pretty vividly what the man had eaten for dinner.

  • Stuart Green says:


    I was doing a tour down in the deep South and the TD had blown out the generator during the first show. We were slated for 5-months & were under prepared as a Hurricane led us to most rehearsals in the Director’s kitchen. Also, I was the only guy who had previous production and tour experience which meant I had to be especially attentive.

    Well, there was a lot that happened on that tour (from temporary line losses to personality perseverancing), but in trying to salvage the TD’s error I spent most of the show plugging and unplugging different cords so that the special effects would work. I also had to change my costume, work some set pieces and oh, yeah Act! Not only to adults, but to a roomful of children (who are the most honest audience members). It may have only been a play, but that went on for 5 days/ week at 3 times/ day until a replacement generator was supplied. At the very least I felt closer to Spike Jones and his City Slickers, creating something out of nothing, on the fly and for an audience who took the time to see what we were cooking up.



  • Chad G says:

    I was doing a regional production of Beauty and the Beast and the part when Belle shows the Beast to the townspeople, we had a little projection clip of the Beast that played on a small portion of the backdrop. One night, Belle said, “Show me the Beast” and everyone turned around to look and all that showed was a Windows desktop with all the icons. After a couple of minutes of the cast and the audience laughing, one ensemble member was finally able to squeak out their line “Is he dangerous?”

  • Andrew Joy says:

    I played the Cat in The Hat in a high school production of Suessical. I opened the show by repelling down onto a platform in the middle of the audience. On a matinee performance my equipment malfunctioned and I was left 40 feet above the platform trying to grip a rope with less than ideal gloves. After deciding there was nowhere to go but down, I tried sliding. That burnt straight through the gloves and onto my hands so my reflexes made me let go. By the magic of theatre (and the prayers mixed with curse words of my drama teacher) I landed with a large thud, but nothing broken. Pure adrenaline made me jump up without missing a beat. I finished the show with nothing but blistered hands. The worst part was having to do it again that evening, oh well, it’s only a play.

  • Alexa B. says:

    I was playing Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz in high school and as I run on stage for my first number, I look down in my basket and instead of a cute stuffed animal dog, there’s a creepy plastic lobster. I started cracking up and couldn’t hold it in…

    it’s only a play!

  • Kyrsten Louchen says:

    I have seen countless stage blunders from actors slipping to them not realizing their mic was on while in the wings (I’ve heard so great stuff). My favorite one was during a production of My Fair Lady when Professor Higgins sat down on a couch with such force that it cause it to tip over and he and Eliza went tumbling off the back. They recovered wonderfully and the show was brilliant. My least favorite blunder, or at least the one that made me mad, was Yale Rep’s last season production of A Streetcar Name Desire. During the second act Blanche called out for a line and the stage manager fed it to her OVER THE SOUND SYSTEM. I could not believe it!
    I myself have experienced many accidents on stage. I’ve gotten many bruises, messed up many dances and suffered many wardrobe malfunctions but one of my scariest moments on stage was waiting for a blackout that never came. I know it is only seconds between the end of the number to when the stage lights go down but when you have to freeze until the blackout it seems like an eternity. Once I was in a matinee performance of Shrek playing the Wicked Witch (type casting I know). After a number the other fairy tale creatures and I had to freeze until a blackout but the smoke hatches above the flies malfunctioned and opened during our number, but of course we didn’t know that. As we finished the number and stood there frozen I began to notice that the stage lights were taking a long time to dim. Suddenly I realised that wasn’t stage light shining on us but sunlight! It was a beautiful sunny day out and the stage was brighter than I had ever seen in. As someone who considers themself as tactor (techie and actor) I knew none my castmates knew what was going on. I finally said “Scene Change, Go” to everyone around me and exited the stage trying to take as many actors off with me as I could. Some did follow my but the others remained so myself and the stage right stage manager had to jump up in down and wave my arms in the wings for them to get the message and they started exiting in weird groups. It was the longest scene change in the history of theater. It was so bad that I did not have time to change out of my costume before the next change and I had to work crew for the rest of the show in my witch costume.
    As painful as that was for me I really couldn’t complain cause at least it was a nice day. Once the smoke hatches malfunctioned during a concert and Alice Cooper literally got rained on.
    As humiliating as the sunlight blackout was, at least we were dry. 🙂

  • Laura Porter says:

    During a particularly disaster fraught Summer season while a student at SUNY-Albany, I was in “Ah, Wilderness & ran the light board for an original dance show (The Doily Sisters – I almost killed the lead dancer when I knocked over a huge pole w/ 6 lights on it where she was warming up) & a production of I can’t remember the name of the play – (I have blocked it completely) while working in the costume shop on the costumes for all these shows and Dames at sea. Needless to say, I was exhausted. & in the middle of “the nameless play” , I hit the kill button on ALL the LIGHTS – right in the middle of the play! Needless to say, my director (also my acting teacher) has never forgiven me. It’s Only a Play…. right?

  • Rebecca says:

    I was in my final high school production of “Once Upon a Mattress.” I was really sad that this was going to be my last show but also very excited because I knew new things were coming. The second to last dress rehearsal had ended and my friends and I were the only people left in the theatre. I ran across the stage to the apron to meet up with them and I guess I miss judged a step or something and fell off the stage into the first row. I thought, “No big deal” and I got up and went home. Later that night I was in a lot of pain……. The next day I showed up to rehearsal with a broken wrist, a sprained knee, and in a wheel chair.
    Guess who didn’t perform in their last high school production?
    This girl.

  • john costa says:

    I was in a production of “1776” at a major regional theatre in Southern CT back in 2007. This production featured several Broadway actors as well as several that would go on to tread the boards in the years since. I was fortunate enough to get one of the few non-equity contracts and played the Congressional Custodian who is in charge of the tally board keeping the audience informed as to where we stand on Independence. I had always been told in school that “true professionals” can handle themselves in any situation with a quick witted ad lib that can get everything back on track. Well, during one of the performances in this long run (over 10 weeks) the Constitutional arguments got so impassioned, that the anti-Independence side of the stage jumped ahead several pages to the second vote when we had not yet had the arguments to establish each state’s side of the argument in the first place! As they continued through the pros and cons of the argument everyone on stage realized that the tally board would be completely wrong if the votes were taken and recorded following this part of the show, because everyone is now changing sides. Being in charge of that board, I had immediately realized the situation and after a brief moment of panic, realized that I had to put a plan into action. I quickly scribbled a note to the “Congressional Secretary” that said, “I’ve got a solution… wake me at the end of the vote” So, as the votes happened… I “fell asleep” and ignored the voting completely. We clearly had no time to inform the others so you could feel the horror on stage as I sat there “snoozing” as it seemed that all was going to the dogs. My hope was that with so many votes and all the parliamentary speak, no one in the audience would actually be keeping track of who voted yeah or neay! The moment of truth came, the votes were over and he nudged me to “wake up” I opened my eyes, shrugged, and got the board to be exactly where we should be at that point in the script with no one being the wiser. The audience chuckled, the cast could now breathe, and stage management was thrilled that somehow we had not only saved the Independence of our country but had also shaved over 10 minutes off the run time … after all “it’s only a play”

  • FrankieJ says:

    A director based in Rome, Italy had asked to read one of my plays I wasn’t ready to share with the world yet but I had just completed a play, VATICAN FALLS, about one Catholic sex abuse survivor’s journey, based on factual accounts and events, so I asked him if he would like to read that one. He did and loved it and we had the play translated into Italian. He then told me he promised that the play would World Premiere in Rome and set about making that happen. I never quite believed that a play about the scandal would actually open in Rome but in September of 2010 it was announced to the Italian press (with me attending via Skype!) that Il Vaticano Cade (the Italian title would open at a very reputable theatre only a few kilometers from the Vatican!!!

    In February of 2011, the cast and creative team, which included TV and film actors well-known in Italy, assembled to begin rehearsals. I was going to attend the first week of performances in May—arriving the night of the dress, so I had decided to fly to Sicily first to visit my family. The night before my flight to Rome, I slept in my recently deceased Aunt’s room where it was freezing cold and I had no clue how to turn on the heat. I woke up with a high fever but managed to drag my ass onto the bus with wings waiting for me at the Palermo airport (where, incidentally, police were stationed all around the upper part of the airport with what looked like machine guns). Since I was sweating profusely (fever trying to break) I was taken for a terrorist and was, of course, stopped, frisked and detained so I missed my flight. Finally, they let me go and I staggered onto the next flight. In Rome, I took a taxi directly to the theatre as I didn’t want to miss the dress rehearsal.

    Still fever-ridden, I stumbled out of the taxi and noticed a door-stop was holding the stage door to the theatre open. I took two paces and the door slammed shut. Later, I would remember thinking this was an omen for what was to come. I pounded on the door and after what seemed like four days (it was probably four minutes) someone finally let me in and escorted me through the lobby and into the theatre proper. No one was onstage but there were a few people in the audience seats. One of them was the lead actor who recognized me from my Facebook pic and made a beeline to me. Excitedly introduced himself and then said he was “so, so sorry.” Befuddled (and still sweaty) I asked why. He realized I had just arrived and told me I better go see the director who was backstage. My heart must have stopped beating as I wandered backstage in a dumbfounded haze meeting sad cast members along the way—all happy to see me, all profoundly sad about something.

    I got the news listening to the director arguing with the artistic director (and co-producer) of the theatre—all in Italian—as I stood in a doorway backstage: they had just received word that the play would not be allowed to go up. All performances were canceled. Period. Including the dress. Months of preparation and rehearsals for naught. There would be two stays of execution over the next few days as cast members and the director tried to change minds but to no avail.


    Initially we were told it was money that was needed because the co-producer’s promise of $$ never came through, but when a cast member agreed to put up with he amount (a nominal figure by any standards) the theatre still would not agree to run the show.

    In an interview with the Italian press (where we made some headlines) the director and others claimed that there were death threats and the artistic director was scared.

    Quite a few cast members theorized that the co-producer was a friendly with high ranking Vatican officials and deliberately sabotaged the production.

    Still others said that it was the director’s mishandling of the financial aspects forced the AD to withdraw the show.

    I never did find out the real reason. Perhaps it was a combination of all of the above but I was absolutely devastated by the sequence of events—and I ran a high fever for the next three days. It didn’t break completely until I stepped onto US soil.

    The night of the horrible news, the cast and crew assembled at the lead actor’s apartment to commiserate and eat and drink a lot (something we Italians do very well). They wanted to perform some scenes for me so I’d get to see SOME of what they had worked so hard for 3 months for but the director insisted the play would be done so, instead, we ate and drank a lot. They were a fun bunch and I’ve always regretted not insisting that they give me a glimpse of how they brought my characters to life.

    I’ve traveled to Rome a few times since. And I visit with some of the cast every time I go. About a year ago some of them reassembled and performed pieces of my play at an occupied theatre in Rome. I was told the audience was very moved by what they saw.

    The good news is that after the fiasco in Rome, I workshopped the play further and revised it so that I am finally truly happy with it.

    Last year I was in Rome and met with an artistic director of another theatre who was very interested in staging VATICAN FALLS. A few months ago, he died. These two thing are not, in any way, linked. It’s just part of the continuous journey of this play and of the eternal city that seems to not get that “it’s only a play!”

  • Nicole Ehrhard says:

    In The Sound of Music, Lousia tries to trick Maria when she first meets her. The scripted lines exchanged are as follows:
    L: I’m Brigitta
    M: Very nice to meet you………Lousia

    Our accidental mess up was:
    L: I’m Louisa
    M: ………………Yes…….Yes you are.

  • Molly Rose says:

    I was in my first youth theatre show in upstate New York, and I was totally bummed to have gotten the sassy character role instead of the leading lady. I didn’t take me long to learn how much more fun those parts are! When the ingenue forgot to come out for our scene, without missing a beat, I jumped back and forth performing both her lines and mine, in separate accents of course. It was thrilling and completely ridiculous and I’ll never forget it, but hey- it’s only a play!!

  • so I have a longtime friend, Patrick Jude, who told me a tale of high flying fear. He was the person played Judas in Jesus Christ Super Star after Ben Vereen for 1100 performances. One night he was lifted high up above the stage with his long flowing robe and the harness wouldn’t work.
    He said it was a good thing he could get his hands around his neck so that he wouldn’t choke to death.
    My writing partner at the time and I were going to write a show for Patrick called “Still Hangin!”.
    The sad part is that Phil passed away before we got the chance to write it/

  • I was playing Doc Holliday in a stage production of TOMBSTONE a few years back. We had a good armorer teaching us how to use the weapons for the big gun fight , including my firing off a double barreled shot gun .The charge in it sent off a huge thrilling flame from the barrells , guaranteeing a big wow from the audience .

    One perfomance,I pulled the first trigger – and nothing . I thought okay I still had the second one to fire. I tried pulling that trigger but for some reason the safety had not released. Nothing. So I had to meekly yell : “BANG” and my poor fellow actor fell, a victim of a mimicked sound.

  • Jojo says:

    Okay, so, I was performing in my first recital–ever–and I could not be more nervous out of my mind. I was a freshman in high school. The recital was a show composed of two nights and I was singing, “The Hills Are Alive” (from the Sound of Music, obviously). Mind you, I was NOT, BY ANY MEANS, trained in my soprano register…basically AT ALL. So I went out there and I stunk up the stage very hard–I was nervous beyond belief, completely pitchy, my breath was out of control, and I was performing for my best friends and the parents of my cast mates! Absolutely mortifying. I didn’t live that performance down for a solid month.

  • Jojo says:

    …But, hey, its only a play! (…or should I say a FRESHMAN SHOWCASE? Haha.)

  • Jose says:

    I will never understand how I made it into my middle school choir. I had never had a good singing voice, but for some reason the music teacher told me I’d made it. She placed me with the girls, probably because I hadn’t yet entered puberty and my voice was still quite high…we rehearsed for weeks to make our debut at a mall during the holidays. I was given a solo in a French version of “Oh Christmas Tree”, and I had become pretty good at it. Of course the weekend of the show, my hormones decided to kick in and I lost my voice, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me! I showed up in my choir robe and began to sing…when the teacher discovered how terrible I was, she whispered to me “lipsync”. I did and she sang my solo. I got a ton of applause but was kicked out of the choir the following Monday…oh well, it’s only a play!

  • Katie M says:

    I might have trotted this out to try and win another contest but I have to say the time our sound op got VIOLENTLY ill right before intermission (and a ton of cues). There was a commotion on comm and my PSM told me to run a bucket up to the booth but I…did not get there fast enough, we’ll say. The PSM was calling the light cues while leaning over the now dry-heaving op to punch Go on Q-lab. It was not pretty. Luckily there was a backdoor to the booth, and the sound designer was in the house so the cleaning staff literally just ripped out the carpet and the designer ran the board (despite how badly it still smelled up there).

  • Allison DeLuca says:

    I was playing Nehebka in a production of Aida and one night we had a tiny issue during Dance of the Robe. Our ensemble got a little too over excited and let’s just say that Aida got “disrobed” during Dance of the Robe. They ended up pulling on her dress too hard and the buttons popped open as she was center stage. And if that wasn’t enough, the show was recorded that day (and was eventually put on YouTube). Thankfully the boy who played Mereb and I covered her during the dance break as she tried to rebutton her dress. But hey, it’s only a play right? (That’s now recorded forever and online for the world to see … hehe glad it wasn’t me).

  • One of the coolest things about making my Broadway debut was that all of my costumes were made from scratch for me. Everything fit perfectly, which is a dream because I’m 5’1″ and always have to get my jeans shortened! My costume for the big dance number and the end of Act 1 in, was black leather pants, and a halter top that was made of hundreds of neon leather pieces woven together to make a bodice and then unwoven to create fringe that almost touched the floor. The back of the halter closed with 3 hook and eyes and was secured by 3 extra snaps. At the top of the halter (the part that went over my head and around my neck), was a piece of black elastic that held the two straps that went over my chest together. Since the bodice was made out of leather there wasn’t much give, and this elastic provided the give. It was very cool, definitely my favorite costume, and it fit perfectly!

    One night, about 2 years into my run, I was onstage about to start the number “Voulez Vouz”. I don’t know why specifically, but I was so into the music that night, the band sounded amazing, I was feeling grateful about being in this show, performing on Broadway, the works. I was into it, and I was dancing my heart out. According to the choreography, I shot my right arm up in the air and then place it on my dance partner’s shoulder to begin our partnering section. We were also singing at this point and I watched my partner’s face as he stopped singing, his eyes grew wide, and his face grew long. I had no idea why! I gave him a sort of look through my singing as if to say “what’s wrong?” “what’s going on?”. He looked me in the eyes intently and then looked down at my chest, intently. I looked down to find that the black elastic strap from the back of my neck had snapped and the two leather straps of my halter had fallen. I was completely bare chested. On stage. Yup, boobs to the audience. All 1,526 seats of the Winter Garden Theater had a clear view of my rack.

    I quickly covered my self with my left arm while still trying to dance with my partner with my right arm and sing. The thoughts started running through my head “What should I do?” “Should I leave the stage?” “No I can’t do that, because then my dance partner would have nobody to dance with” So I decided to stay on stage and dance with one arm. Of course, at the end of this massive dance number, all 33 cast members on stage form 2 circles and hold hands. What are the odds, right? I went to my place in the circle and only held the hand of the person on my right. I tried to give a “sorry” look to the person my left while singing, and I got a strange and confused look back. After about 5 minutes, the curtain went down on Act 1 and I was safe.

    On one hand, more than 1,000 people may have seen my breasts on a Broadway stage. On the other hand, It’s Only A Play!

  • Brian says:

    The show began with a family sitting around a table as dinner began. Just a the lights went up a hornet flew kamikaze style into fathers meal. The actor playing father did not wear his glasses and did not see the hornet struggling on his plate. As he put his fork into the meal he killed the hornet. The actress playing mother grabbed the plate and said “you’ve had enough”. Father had no idea what was happening until the end of the 1st act. hey it’s only a play.

  • Beau says:

    Okay, so THIS happened:

    2008. My high school production of BYE BYE BIRDIE. I am playing Conrad Birdie. To execute a set change before “A Lot of Livin’ to Do,” they closed the curtain and the director had Birdie (Me), Kim MacAfee and Ursula play out a small scene leading into the coming song in front of the proscenium. We had it staged where Kim jumps into Birdie’s arms, and they run off to The Ice House, Ursula jealously chasing behind. The curtain flies up, and suddenly we are there and we had “A Lot of Livin’ to Do.” That’s what was supposed to happen.

    So, the night that the Cappies Critics (Our city’s high school theater awards, run by student peers from every high school) are there, tragedy strikes. There was a cord taped down to the stage running in front of the doorway from the proscenium leading to backstage, where the sound was being run. As Kim jumped into my arms, I start running off stage. As I’m almost through the doorway, I tripped on the cord taped to the stage and Kim FLEW out of my arms and slid into the cement wall, as if she was literally sliding on ice. I didn’t fall, however (Sorry Kim..). The audience, seeing all of this (including the fifty student critics) gasped. After (what seemed like 45 minutes) a few seconds, I pulled out one of my fake cigarettes (acting choice?) and put it in my mouth and walked off stage as Ursula helped up the fallen Kim.

    When the student critics gathered to discuss the production and possible nominees after the show, the director, when asked about the incident, told the critics that “Birdie intentionally threw Kim aside, not wanted to show favoritism toward one girl versus another.” Yeah. Okay.

  • Vi says:

    I was in a school play where I played one of a typists at this ad agency where I was literally only in one scene. (I totally don’t remember the title.) And for our Saturday matinee, I could not find my costume and since it was a small school with no real back stage help, I just pulled a random dress from the costume closet that was in the era’s style. I walked around and thought I looked fine. However, once in my scene, I went to sit at office desk, I felt a skirt seam rip. The entire left side had pulled apart. I managed to get through the scene without really turning my left side to the audience but when I had to exit, I had to go stage right. I did some sort of turning, walking backward maneuver but totally collided into someone running into the scene, causing my dress to rip even more. It felt like ages until I finally made it off the stage. Alas… it’s only a play!

  • Andrew says:

    This is a story from the pit, not the stage, but one worth a smile. I’d been subbing In The Heights (percussion) for a few months, so when a friend asked if I wanted to grab drinks before the show (he was playing Lion King), I said sure, I can do this show on a couple drinks. So down 2 Manhattans went, we had a few laughs, we said our good-byes, and I’m in the pit. “Lights up in Washington Heights!” We start the show. The first 3 numbers go by fine, no problem, just like always, except that at the end of the 3rd number, I had to pee like never before. And you know when you have to pee but you’re not suppose to, it rings in your loins even louder? I panicked. Sweat fell like July in NY. A quick calculation of the dialogue between number 3 and 4 told me maybe, just maybe I would have a chance – but number 4 started with me on the shaker! I could NOT miss that entrance. Another quick calculation: I could either 1) be the sub who pees his pants in the pit or 2) be the sub who sprints out of the pit as all the regulars curiously watch and worse, risk missing a most important entrance. No time to think. I chose the latter, opened the plastic noise shield, skimmed past the saxophones, past the trumpets, pass the conductor, bassist, and finally the drummer, and ran to the bathroom! It was the longest pee ever. It just would not stop. I could hear the scene passing above my head, and I knew time was running out. I pushed ’till the end, knowing I only had a handful of seconds, finished, ran back to my setup, grabbed the shaker JUST in time for the conductor to cue me: song number 4: Go! And …. I made it. Whew! But as stressful as it was …. it’s only a play!

  • Adam Lawrence says:

    I saw All Shook Up on Broadway and sat front row. About two rows behind me halfway through act 1, a baby starts crying. Although I was profusely annoyed, the baby settled down. About 20 minutes into Act 2 there goes the baby again. Not a person in the house could focus on the performance until finally an usher came to escort the mother out. As they walked out Cheyenne Jackson said ON STAGE IN CHARACTER “love is like… It’s like that baby!” The entire house burst into hysterics and applause and it made me realize It’s Only a Play!

  • Dana Vance says:

    Opening night of an off Broadway show at the Minetta Lane…we are all excited before going on, the lights dim to black, lights up and my male counterpart is speaking like he has laryngitis! I’m looking into his eyes and he looks terrified! He cannot speak thru the entire 1st Act! We get off stage and I look at him and say, “What’s wrong?” And without missing a beat, he very normally says, “Nothing”
    His laryngitis went away as soon as he walked off stage! but you know, it’s only a play!

  • One of the first plays that I was in after moving to NYC. . I was playing Miss Metcalf in “Dark of the Moon”. For some reason at one of the performances our John and Barbara Allen went up on their lines at the same time. They started improving for a bit but still couldn’t really get themselves back on track. All of us backstage looked at each other in a panic and I am sure we were all trying to think of a way that we could in character help out. Finally our Conjur Man stepped out on an elevated platform and saved the day. While it was happening it seemed like hours if not years but probably was only 2 or 3 minutes tops.

  • Laura says:

    Being a pit violinist, I’ve had some funny experiences….

    In an island production of Fiddler on the Roof, a professional pit was brought in for the two shows. During the first show, when the crucial dream sequence where Tevya explains the nightmare, something happens to Tevya and he jumps off the bed (while the ghosts surround them) and runs off stage. The orchestra is in full swing, but the cast doesn’t know what to do so they follow him off stage. The musical director stops the music, leans down to tell us “just skip the next two numbers…” What?

    We flipped forward in our scores only to have to quickly flip back when the cast trickles back on stage. This is a part of the story that sets up the rest, but the effect was lost. But, “it’s only a play!”

  • Laura says:

    In an production of The Sourcerer, the second act starts with a cauldron scene. The crew set up the dry ice fog machine and turned it on before the curtain opened. So much fog built up behind the curtain that when it finally opened, a huge wall of fog rolled out and fell over the stage into the pit. It completely blocked out the pit! Thankfully, we kew the music by heart!

    That same show had a problem with a rolled up scene backdrop that was too close to a light. It was burning through the layers so there were holes around the whole thing….and then it set off the fire alarm. Everyone had to evacuate. “It’s only a play!”

  • Laura says:

    We’ve all been in the theatre and discovered after the show that it had been snowing while you were blissfully unaware inside. In this case, a freak Halloween blizzard started during the show, creating a power outage in the town. The theater was plunged in darkness, not even having the emergency lights engage.

    After the generators kicked on, it was apparent the generators couldn’t handle the power drain of a show. The generators kept the basic lights on, but with the whole light and sound board on when the generator kicked in, every lighting and sound effect programmed for the show started going off together. The lightning effect for one scene now appeared as a strobe — constantly flashing. The computers had been affected by the surge, too, so couldn’t handle it. The crew finally turned off the stage lights and sound, but couldn’t stop the flashing effects. The cast actually finished the show without stage lights (strobe only!) and no mics, and many in the audience left — I imagine it would give you a headache or seizure!

    When I finally left the theatre, there was over a foot of snow in the parking lot. It was so early in the season, I didn’t have the car scraper, so I used my library card to clear the glass. It’s only a play!

  • Alexis says:

    Well, it is hard to narrow it down to just one story as lots of things have gone wrong over the years. I’ve lost lights in the middle of a show (thank god for spots), torn costumes, flubbed lines, lost props, sets not moving – fun times. I guess the most frustrating for me was when I was working as a PA on a play and the playwright mentioned a specific food prop by name in the script. Of course, our order of this prop had not come in and I had to spend 3 hours searching every store and bodega in Midtown to not find the correct sized version of the prop. I get back to the theatre with the options I had found that were not correct, but a close variation. I’m talking to the stage manager and I spy an entire row of this prop in the vending machine that we use as another prop onstage. Well, it’s only a play!

  • Candace says:

    I was enjoying a high school production of “Annie” when Annie called over Sandy to give him a hug while she sang “Tomorrow.” Well, Sandy didn’t wait until tomorrow to leave her a present, he did it right there!

    “it’s only a play!”

  • Gregory T. says:

    I was playing the Wizard in Once Upon A Mattress in high school. In one of my scenes I had to do this magic trick that involved a scarf changing different colors. During the last performance, as I was doing the trick the scarf ripped in half exposing how the trick is done. The cue for the next actor to enter the scene was based off of me finishing the trick so I was left on stage alone adlibbbing until the actor realized what was happening and finally saved me!

  • Instead of walking offstage after my number was finished, I was so disoriented by the darkness for some reason that I walked upstage, tripping over the board covering a very expensive set of lights on the ground and wiping out spectacularly – onto the lights. The TD was not very happy; I think he was more worried about the lights than about me. #nailedit

  • When I was the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, we had a golden egg mishap. We had a stuffed hen with a slit cut to hold the golden egg, which Jack could take out to show the Baker and I. Right after It Takes Two, Jack threw the stuffed hen over one of the wings, and the egg popped out like an Angry Bird and it took a bit to catch it. The audience lost it, and the Baker and I were having a tough time keeping ourselves together, especially with Jack egging us on, in character- his Jack was inspired by Kenneth the NBC page from 30 Rock, btw; that’s very important to know. Once Milky White died, sound effect included, there was no hope: everyone in the audience and the Baker and I were in tears from laughter, Jack keeping it together, but still hamming it up. There was also a performance with a music mishap. We didn’t have an orchestra, but pre-recorded orchestrations, and one night the sound cut out right as we were supposed to start singing the end “Into the Woods” section together. If the Baker hadn’t have started singing a cappella, I don’t know what would have happened. ‘Twas a crazy production.

  • Karma says:

    I was doing a murder mystery comedy and the act one closer was me opening a door, gasping, and then fainting. I open the door and the door know comes off in my hand. The door doesn’t really swing open so much as drift a bit. It’s only a play!

  • Cammerron says:

    I was stage managing my college production of “Lend me a Tenor” and my cast had a reputation, specifically the guy playing max of onstage breaking props. No joke, it was a well earned reputation. Well I was feeling so sick on performance my director asked me to leave and have the asm take over for the night. I turned to her and said,” Julie I’m sure you will be fine, text me if so etching goes wrong, I have a bad feeling about tonight.”
    A few hours later I got 2 text that said the following, the first,” Hey Cam, the show was great, but when max comes in as Tito before the Diana Maggie chase with him the door fell, luckily he is good with a door becoming a shield.” And the second “so the cue on the boar stoped working an Diana was left making out with Tito for a very long time, she steped off stage and flipped out, guess the diva role was typecast”
    Of all the performances missed, of course this one.
    Oh well, it’s only a play!

  • Lydia says:

    We were in the middle of running Shrek the Musical, and a random Mexican Man walks in from the stage door. There he is greeted by Donkey, Shrek, and Gingy, whom none speak Spanish. Shrek and Donkey try miming while Gingy looks for someone who can speak Spanish. Luckily, the mic guys can, and he finds out that the man thought the theater was the gym. The man is escorted out, and the stage door is locked forever. It’s only a play!

  • Good thing I’ve got a firm posterior. While playing Feste the Clown in a production of ‘Twelfth Night’, the director’s blocking called for me to jump off the upper level of an ‘Inner Above and Below’ to be caught by my partners in revelry, Sir Andrew and Sir Toby. This was presumed to not be a problem, as the actors playing the characters were large men, certainly capable of catching a 165 lb. Elizabethan clown hurtling through space. Alas, they forgot to catch me and this agile jester slammed into the stage.

    Ah, but the actor is taught to be in the moment and use the unexpected stage circumstance. Equipped with the that firm backside, I bounced up off the floor and continued with my lines to Sir Toby.

    Needless to say, ne’er again was the falling clown ignored.

  • Brian Weiner says:

    As a college performance major, I had to perform and take a plethora of courses. Exhaustion kicked in. We performed Wonderful Town, and during the sailors Congo number (I was a sailor), we flung Eileen around the stage. In my sleepiness, I forgot to land where she was being thrown. All I saw was a screaming Eileen land on one scrawny sailor. Both hit the floor. Oops! Enter her diva moment!

  • Arnie Woelfel says:

    A few things happened during a production at Hartford Children’s Theater during a production of the holiday classic Babes in Toyland. I played the roll of the toymaker and when I went to sing my big number Toyland, I completely forgot all the words And made up any word that had the appropriate syllables. I laughed a lot smiled and got through it. Then when we were doing the shrinking scene, someone was working the fog machine but forgot to turn it off. As it was a small theater, it quickly filled with smoke and no one could see anything with all the lights reflecting through the thick smoke. Waving our arms I front of ourselves, coughing, and staggering around the stage we forged ahead and finished the show because…It’s Only A Play!

  • Frank York says:

    Summer stock production of The Music Man in 1991, the actor normally playing Olin Britt has a family emergency. So, his understudy goes on for him and I do the ensemble track left open by the understudy. All goes well until the scene where the town realizes that Harold Hill is a fraud. The lines are supposed to go Woman 1: “I want my money back!”, Man 1: ” Money back? I want his hide!” But instead Man 1 (played by yours truly) says, “Money back? I want MY hide!” There was a longer pause than usual before the Mayor responded, and then the entire cast broke down in laughter as we ran around the stage trying to find Harold Hill. I did get an award at the end of the summer for Best Line Reading.

  • Michael L says:

    Well, Ken, apparently summer stock presents plenty of material for “disaster” stories. Here is one of many I can impart.

    Making my professional debut at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pa., I ” stopped the show “(Picnic) in the first three minutes – certainly not by any prowess on my part, just dumb luck.

    Playing Bomber, the news delivery boy (the most insignificant role in the play), I was blocked to enter and toss a newspaper onto the front porch of a rural residence in Kansas before my first line, “Hey, goon girl!” No problem…until first tech. The director expected me to ride a bike in from upstage left (through a passageway two feet wide), steer it center stage, and then throw the paper. Before I was cast, no one mentioned a bicycle. To my chagrin, I never got past training wheels. So a rather hapless apprentice was assigned to teach me how to ride. After a grueling afternoon in the parking lot, I was ready for the evening tech run. Curtain up, I rang the bell – persistently – made my way through the narrow passageway, steered center, and crashed into a fence, which partially fell onto the side of the house, which nearly collapsed but for the quick reaction of a stagehand. From the dark came a rather perturbed command, “Strike the bike!” (I was just relieved he didn’t add “And get rid of Mike!”) So we proceeded without further incident until opening night.
    Feeling confident – maybe even a little cocky – about my performance (especially because I was unencumbered by any technical challenges), I rang the bell on my offstage bike, ran center stage with bag slung over shoulder, taunted Millie, the girl inside, then aiming for the porch, tossed the paper over my shoulder, but before I could say my line, I heard uproarious laughter. (What was so funny?) I turned toward the house, looked for the paper, couldn’t find it, then realized what had happened. The paper had flown through the “closed window.” The window panes didn’t have glass in them, but from the audience still looked as if they did, until the “noodnick” newsboy inadvertently made a “slamdunk” into the 8″ window pane.
    With dropped jaw, expanded pupils, and burning ears, I reacted like any other bewildered novice – who in one single moment descended from arrogant professional trouper to humiliated amateur – I did a double take, which elicited thunderous applause.
    To my surprise I wasn’t fired or even reprimanded. Truth be told, the part was so small, I didn’t have an understudy; so they were stuck with me. The real “kicker” came when I was asked back for the next show of the season. Talk about a gracious producer! I suppose his philosophy was “Well, it’s only a play!”

  • Michael L says:

    Reading and enjoying all of these stories, as well as adding to the collection, makes me think of how much fun a “Moth”-like event – where onstage/backstage anecdotes could be shared in a social setting? Looking at all of these responses, I think the turn out would be grand. Don’t you?

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