10 Big Broadway Disasters

wicked-shoshana-bean

It’s a not-so-hidden secret that there are hundreds of surprising stories lurking beneath every board on Broadway. Luckily, there’s at least one guy out there who’s willing to spill.

Sirius XM host, comedian, playwright, music director, and more—is known inside the theater community for sharing the secrets of the stage and deconstructing every high C ever belted. In his bookSeth’s Broadway Diary, Rudetsky chronicles just about every scandalous secret he’s seen, so EW decided to tap into Rudetsky’s well of knowledge and pose this question: What are the 10 biggest Broadway disasters he’s been around for?

Not defying gravity

“Shoshana Bean was starring in Wicked on Broadway and got to the big number at the end of act one, ‘Defying Gravity.’ As most people know, Elphaba rises up during the whole last section and ‘flies.’ In actuality, she’s on a cherry picker that lifts her while an enormous dress blows around her. The cast then runs onstage and points upward while she belts out the ending. Well, one night she got to the part where she rises and sings ‘It’s me-e-e-e-e‘ and… she didn’t rise. The cherry picker didn’t work, but she had to finish the song. So, she just walked off the cherry picker and kept singing the end of the song. But what about the ensemble? They’re supposed to run out and point up at her, flying above them. They decided the only way they could point up at her is if they ran out…and laid on the floor. So, the entire end of the number was Shoshana belting how she was ‘defying gravity’ while standing 5’2” off the ground and the whole ensemble singing ‘Look at her! She’s wicked!’ while laying on the floor. And that’s live theater!”
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Snug as a bug in a pit

“I was playing the piano for Seussical on Broadway. Around halfway through act one, I noticed the other pit musicians looking above my head. Why? Because there was, directly above me, an enormous water bug. He was perched on the ceiling straight above my right arm. I am completely terrified of water bugs. He was clinging to the ceiling above me and I was terrified he would fall right onto me. Suddenly, it became even scarier because a dance number had begun onstage. Why was that so scary? Because the ceiling of the pit is also the floor of the stage! So, the entire cast was jumping around doing Kathleen Marshall choreography which was shaking the stage, hence the ceiling of the pit, hence at any moment the water bug could lose its grip and drop on my bare arm!! Of course, I had to play, so I couldn’t run screaming out of the pit, which is what I wanted to do. I had to sit there playing the jaunty song in a full panic/emotional shut down. The good news is he somehow crawled away. The bad news is I have post-traumatic stress disorder.” 

What I did for pee

“Priscilla Lopez, the brilliant actress who was the original Morales in A Chorus Line, was in the chorus of the 1960s show, Her First Roman. In order to wear a wig, chorus girls have to pin wig caps to their hair, and because Priscilla’s hair was short, it was hard to attach the caps. She found out that if she stuffed some clothes underneath the wig cap, it would help fluff it out and make it easier for the pins to be attached. She stuffed anything she could find into her wig cap: underclothes, socks, whatever…it all worked. While she was with the other chorus girls in the dressing room, applying leg paint to themselves so they’d look Egyptian, she told them of her new discovery. Priscilla happened to look up at the dancer in front of her during the procession and noticed a white bra hanging from underneath the wig and swinging freely. Priscilla wanted to laugh but of course couldn’t because it was supposed to be a sad scene. She tried to suppress it, but all that did was cause incredible pressure, which finally resulted in her … peeing onstage! She couldn’t stop and was mortified that it was also causing her leg makeup to run in rivulets to the stage. Soon she was even more horrified because the stage was raked, meaning it sloped forward. Well, what comes down must go further down, apparently, because soon the pee was running downstage and overflowing off the stage and into the pit! I’m obsessed thinking about those poor musicians sitting in the pit wondering what was dripping on them. Hopefully, they felt some comfort in knowing it was from a future Tony Award winner.”

Read the full story here.

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