Tuesday, September 29, 2009

hugh jackman, a cell phone, and the rest of us

this was big news yesterday in the city but seems to have hit international feeds today-- so there's a new broadway play called a steady rain with daniel craig and hugh jackman playing chicago cops who are faced with a "harrowing" moment. i'm dying to see it if i can get cheap tickets somehow. well the other night an audience member's cell phone went off in the middle of one of jackman's monologues.

sadly, even on broadway, this really isn't that big of news. people just cannot seem to turn their crap off. now not that i think hollywood actors turned theatre should get more respect than the rest of us, but you'd think when watching two of the hottest, talented, mega stars live you'd want to pay attention.

this really became news every where because someone was, illegally by the way, video taping the performance and caught the whole bit on tape.

as an actor what do you do? it seems to me only the big stars (theatre or film) get to do as jackman did and break character and the 4th wall and reprimand the audience. true, the rest of us wouldn't make news doing so, but i've never seen it. the thing i find funny, is that a lot of us pride ourselves on dealing with unforeseen happenings. i admit i kind of love it when something (minor!) goes a little wrong. something breaks, a sound/light cue is off, a prop disappears... when we pretentious actors are really living in the characters, an "off" moment is a chance to expand, improv life. it can give you a little jolt of awareness, a fresh take.

of course it could also be a total disaster that the night never revives from. but that's part of the thrill, no?

i tell this story all the time- in my first leading roll as, of course, Annie- yes red wig and all- i had to deal with near disaster. in the loving, tender moment that the stray dog Sandy runs across the stage to Annie's arms, well one night our sandy took a running leap off the proscenium and into the dark house. for a long heartbeat, i wondered what to do. but this was the same production during which for the first time, a director made me cry over a mistake. i had blanked in rehearsal and just stopped singing. the director froze the run to yell at me, a speech i'll never forget.

with his "words of wisdom" in mind, i leapt off the stage after the dog, calling out "sandy! sandy!" into the dark. luckily it didn't take me too long to find the giant golden retriever, thank the stranger for getting my dog, and drag him back to the stage.

but this is different from breaking- accent and all-for the audience. shoot, i had one show, in which those of us singing "happy days are here again" on stage, honestly thought a woman had died in the front row when she collapsed out of her chair. hey, a room full of older subscribers, you never know! we just danced our way off the stage...

1 comment:

  1. i only listened once, but it does not sound like he broke his dialect...just the fourth wall. i remember a similar story from a few years ago where laurence fishburne and stockard channing were doing "the lion in winter" and a cell phone went off and he did stop the show to berate the audience member. i feel like these two were actually quite generous with the situation, acknowledging it, then waiting for the problem to get resolved, and (finally) moving on. also, since it did make "TMZ", it's great free publicity for the show; i doubt he had that in mind, but, you know, bonus!



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