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Flubbed Lines, Mistakes and Mishaps! Broadway Stars Reveal All

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


On the red carpet at the 2016 Tony Awards, we asked Tony nominees and Broadway stars to share mistakes and problems that they have experienced onstage

Mistakes truly are gifts. As George Bernard Shaw said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” In live theater where anything can go wrong on stage, mistakes happen all the time. “Mistakes are human. Theater is a human thing because it’s happening live,” says Ivo van Hove who won a Tony for directing A View From the Bridge. “And in rehearsal, a mistake can bring a new energy and new ideas.”

On the red carpet at the 2016 Tony Awards, we asked Tony nominees and Broadway stars to share mistakes and problems that they have experienced onstage.

Daveed Diggs in 'Hamilton'; Andrea Martin in 'Noises Off'; Alex Sharp in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' (Photos: Joan Marcus (3))

Daveed Diggs in 'Hamilton'; Andrea Martin in 'Noises Off'; Alex Sharp in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' (Photos: Joan Marcus (3))

Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
“When they happen, you try to turn mistakes into a positive. At the very end of the show when Chava leaves, I run center stage after her, but it’s too late to call her back. One night, I threw my hands up crying. It’s such a hard show, and you cry every single time. A metal button fell off my jacket. It rung so loud throughout the theater — ding, ding, ding, ding. It was a magical moment. I reached down and picked up the button and kissed it.

And it was like God giving me this gift telling me that everything was going to be okay. Everybody in the company mentioned it afterwards. They were all crying. Even people who came back afterwards mentioned it. Bryan Cranston was there and talked about that moment to me that night. It was a beautiful thing. Sometimes that happens. And sometimes, a fly is open, and there’s nothing you can do.”

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
“There’s a moment [in ‘My Shot’] where everybody freezes. And whenever I had people from Oakland in the audience, I would throw up my ‘W’ in the freeze and see if anybody noticed. And now, I do it every night, and I still haven’t gotten a note on it. I probably shouldn’t have said that — so maybe I won’t get to do it anymore.”

Bill Camp, The Crucible
“Many years ago, I was playing Troilus in Troilus and Cressida. On my very first entrance on opening night, I fell off the stage. Mind you, I had a very difficult entrance to make along the edge, but I fell nonetheless. Know your blocking and where your feet are going. The gentleman playing my brother, a great actor named Seth Jones, helped me back up on stage. And I continued. The show must go on. That’s never happened again.”

Andrea Martin, Noises Off
“Everything works in the moment. I don’t think there are any mistakes. I think that everything works. If something falls or there wasn’t a prop there, it was in the moment of the play because it was so spontaneous. As long as the words remain the same, if it is spontaneous, it is fun.”

Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
“There were little mistakes, like the stuffed dummy didn’t fall right. The [biggest] mistake it seemed had to do with ‘Signed Sealed Delivered,’ the song I sang Off-Broadway. We couldn’t get the rights for the Broadway production. The song was so extremely successful; we were all very worried. We looked at each other and said we have an opportunity to roll on our side and cry or we can dig down deep and try to make it even better. And that’s what we did. I ended up singing ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ instead. Not only that song but a few jokes had to change for similar reasons. And every turn in Disaster!, it ended up being better. It was a lesson in creativity and how it doesn’t have to be one way to work.”

Andy Blankenbuehler, Choreographer, Hamilton
“Nothing specific comes to mind. But I believe that things don’t have to be pretty to be successful. I learned that a lot in Hamilton. Life has a lot of ugliness about it. And ugliness has a lot honesty. Sometimes shapes don’t have to be pretty as long as they’re speaking a message. Look at Bob Fosse’s choreography, the knees are turned in and it’s broken. The shows without any words how deep pain can go.”

Ali Stroker, Spring Awakening
“When we got to the theater, the stage was on a slant. I was signing with both my hands and couldn’t keep my wheelchair still. So, I’d be rolling down the stage. It was such an opportunity to connect with my other cast members. They were supporting my chair while I was signing. It was one of those gifts of ‘now we get to work together.'”

Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
“Sometimes, you get so familiar with what you’re doing — the choreography and stuff — that when you mess it up, it becomes a little bit more organic. When you really start nailing it, it can get too clean. So sometimes when you trip up, it can make your performance better. I remember lights would go wrong, I would fall over. But that’s live theater.”

Krysta Rodriguez, Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening was simultaneously in sign language and spoken. I had to speak and sign at the same time. One night, my microphone went out. They kept a hand held microphone on stage in case something had gone wrong because we didn’t really leave the stage. I grabbed the microphone and realized when I was grabbing it that I couldn’t sign with both hands. I had to make this decision that either the hearing audience was going to understand with the microphone or the deaf audience was going to understand without it. I was singing ‘Blue Wind’ with Moritz. And he wouldn’t know what I was saying if I didn’t sign. He’s completely deaf. I  used the microphone with one hand and signed with the other hand during the whole scene and song and thought, I’ll do this until I can’t anymore. Maybe I’ll tuck the mic under my chin. The audience applauded afterward. You could tell that this was not what was supposed to happen. But in that moment, it didn’t feel right to exclude one half the audience. I did whatever I could do. I wanted to include as many people as possible.”

Ana Villafañe, On Your Feet!
“I was with On Your Feet! from its inception when it was changing. Mistakes are good. You learn from them. There was a time where we took out one song and put in ‘Rhythm is Gonna Get You’ in Act II, and it didn’t work. And then you go back. That’s where human beings grow. It’s amazing to be part of live theater because it’s alive and you get to grow with it.”

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