25 Of The Worst Things That Have Actually Happened To Actors On Stage
Don't let anyone tell you that theatre isn't hardcore.
1. The drink swap:
"We were doing a production of The Wedding Singer and there's one scene where the main character starts taking shots. One of the cast members decided it would be funny to replace the water in the shot glasses with hairspray... it wasn't."
2. The fire extinguisher accident:
"I got sprayed in the face with a fire extinguisher as I was making my entrance. These were the ones that had warnings about instant frostbite, and our director had warned us to never let the spray hit you. I still did my scene, then ran offstage thinking I was about to be rushed to the hospital. Thankfully I was wearing so much stage makeup that I was completely unaffected."
3. The missing tooth:
"When I was eight, I had a part that had a long soliloquy. Halfway through, my tooth fell out. Thinking quickly, I stuck it in between my cheek and my gums and there it stayed until I left the stage. Was it traumatizing? Yes. Did it stop me from acting? No."
4. The spooky theatre:
"I was in Beauty and the Beast and we had a rat problem at the theater. One night as the lights came up for intermission a stunned rat fell from the catwalk, landed on a patron, and died in the aisle. It really made the whole spooky, haunted castle vibe work."
5. The dentist chair disaster:
"The most fucked-up thing that has ever happened to me onstage was when I was in Little Shop of Horrors. One of the props was an old-school hydraulic dentist chair, that was so heavy it took several of us to move between scenes. While we were moving it one night, it dropped and fell on my leg... which snapped. I screamed out, but quickly shut up as the audience could clearly hear me. We couldn't clean all of the blood in time, so we moved our Audrey II set piece over it for the scenes it was in, and just threw a rug over it the rest of the time."
6. The stool situation:
"One of our actors pooped his pants on stage. I don't know if it was stage fright or illness, but he has never lived it down."
7. The escaped boob:
"I was waiting in the wings to go on stage, watching my friend dancing with her partner. As he went to spin her around her entire tit fell out of her dress. I tried desperately to get her attention, but it stayed that way for a solid 20 seconds before her partner realized."
8. The stabbing:
"I was in a high school production of Romeo and Juliet when I was 16, and had to learn sword fighting choreography. Our director decided to use real metal swords that had the edges dulled but still had the point intact. One day, another actor accidentally stabbed me in the ribs through a tunic, dress shirt, and undershirt. Nearly five years later, I still have a scar, and a wonderful ice breaker."
9. The accidental quick change:
"I was in a play in high school that was set in the 1900s, so our outfits included heels and long skirts that were Velcro at the back for quick changes. I was supposed to walk all the way up the aisle from the back of the theatre when I stepped on the hem of my dress and it completely opened at the back. I fell flat on my face, and then realised I was wearing a thong, so I had to crawl to the door bare ass and all."
10. The wet nightie:
"I was in a hilarious scene where I had to use a soda sprayer to wet my partner's crotch, but I cracked and couldn't control my laughter and I peed my nightie onstage. I had to throw those nylons out during my quick change!"
11. The close call:
"I once played Chip in a really big production of Beauty and the Beast. My costume was a cart that had a mirror in it to make it look like I was only a head with no body. Once I was in the cart I had no control of what happened or where I went, so there were locks on the cart wheels that had to be pressed down when I was in place. At one point, the woman who played Mrs Potts forgot to put the brakes on and because the stage was at a slight angle I started rolling down the stage toward the pit, which was a 15-foot drop. Just before I fell, a girl dressed as a spoon ran up and saved me."
12. The broken nose:
"I played the role of Mrs Brill in my high school production of Mary Poppins. In one of the penultimate scenes I was pushed flat on my face in front of a closing night audience of about 800 people. I broke my nose."
13. The nutshot:
"When I was 14 I was in Macbeth and during the dinner sequence one of the lead actor’s friends from the audience shot a BB gun right at his balls. We couldn’t decide what was funnier, his voice after getting a shot to the nuts, or the fact that it even happened."
15. The curse of the Scottish play II:
"When I was in high school, we were doing a play that had multiple acts, and we somehow managed to skip an entire act! The reason? Someone said 'Macbeth' backstage."
16. The never-ending slurp:
"I recently was in a production of Heathers, and was onstage during 'Freeze Your Brain' with my counterpart. There's a break in the song where his character takes a sip of a Slurpee. The slurp sound played while he mimed drinking, but it didn't stop. It lasted for a solid 45 seconds and we couldn't continue on until it stopped. It got a lot of laughs, but I'll never forget it."
17. The pants split:
"My sister played Angelica in Hamilton and during her solo the dance captain split his pants."
18. The fire alarm:
"I was in The Wizard of Oz and during the show the fire alarm went off because of all the smoke from the smoke machines. We just continued to do the second act with the fire alarm blaring. Later on, the power went out and we just started screaming our lines so we could finish the show."
19. The unfortunate fart:
"I was a child pickpocket in the Oliver! musical a few years ago, and one night I just didn't feel too great. The rest of the pickpocket chorus and I had to sit down on the flat stage, when I accidentally let out a big fart during Faygan's dialogue. It echoed a LOT and was not good for 12-year-old me's reputation."
20. The broken table:
"My friends were performing a sex scene on a card table and the table broke from under them… while they were singing... on the night that we were recording."
21. The evacuation:
"I was deep into a scene onstage when the house lights were brought up and our house manager came over the speaker to tell us that we had to evacuate into the basement because of a tornado heading directly for us. Everyone was safely moved into the basement when the storm hit. Our doors were sucked open and the power went out. We were all fine, but the tornado destroyed a business across the street."
22. The hiccups:
"My friend who played the lead in a production got the hiccups at the very beginning of the show. She was on stage a lot and had the hiccups throughout most of the show. Even during the sad parts the audience was giggling because this poor girl couldn't stop hiccuping."
23. The domino effect:
"Picture this... a can-can line in a cast of 50 in perfect sync... then I fell flat on my face."
24. The naughty underwear:
"In my first year as a principal dancer, I was in an annual production of A Christmas Carol. We were finishing up with one of everyone's favorite numbers that had a lot of kicks, turns, and leaps for us dancers dressed in our 19th century pauper garb consisting of long flowy skirts. Turns out I forgot the bloomers and my tights under my skirt. So basically the whole audience saw my bright red underwear that said 'naughty' on the butt."
25. The 15-foot fall:
"I was in a production of Parade when we were up to the part where the character of Leo gets lynched, and we were using a wire and harness to show it. It's an incredibly powerful moment where he hangs suspended in midair before the curtains close. Due to a technical failure one night, the wire he was suspended from broke, and the actor fell 15 feet to the ground and landed in a crumpled, unmoving heap. The whole audience gasped. After a moment, he popped up, fixed his clothes, and we finished the show. The bruising the next day was awful. It's easily the most horrifying thing I've ever witnessed onstage in 25 years, and the fact that he walked it off amazed everyone."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.