I was perusing the 2010-2011 season at the 5th Avenue Theatre here in Seattle and realized that for me, musical theater is the ultimate form of entertainment. It’s got it all – action, drama, comedy, singing and dancing. I was involved in two musicals in high school, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods”, both of which I’ve seen on the stage since moving to Seattle. I can’t really pick a favorite between the two experiences because they were so incredibly different, but “Into The Woods” tends to stand out to me because of the mishaps and injuries sustained during our run of it.
I played Rapunzel in the show, an emotionally vulnerable girl held hostage in a tower by the token witch. One of my scenes with the witch, played by my friend Whitney, required Whitney to shove me to the floor and I’d land on my knees and crumple. Our stage wasn’t ideal for falling – the surface was rough and bumpy. The night before our first performance was the dress rehearsal, so I was decked out in my princess dress while Whitney and I rehearsed this scene. We rehearsed it a few times and the last time turned out to be too much for my poor knees – I picked myself up and discovered blood rapidly staining the front of the dress – an ivory satin. We panicked, grabbed the costume designer and ran into the bathroom, and at the costume designer’s advice, started pouring hydrogen peroxide on the stains and rubbing them. Thankfully, it worked like a charm! We had less than 24 hours to go until the performance and I don’t know what we would’ve done without that dress! After that incident, I borrowed a volleyball friend’s knee pads so we wouldn’t risk any more bleeding knees. After the bloody costume, we thought the misfortune was over. Right?
Most of my scenes took place from the top of my tower. Our set crew built a ladder into my tower so I could climb the five or so steps and peek out from the top. At the end of my scenes, I’d step down two rungs and hunker down on the ladder because I didn’t have enough time to reach the bottom before the tower had to be wheeled off stage. On the night of our second performance, also the performance to be recorded, everything was going according to plan. We had finished one of the scenes with the tower and I stepped down my two steps and hung on to the ladder while they wheeled me out. Somehow, the crew hit the back corner of the tower on one of the set pieces while they were rolling out the tower. The force of the hit rocked the ladder backwards and the two front ladder legs came off the floor – I panicked and let go of the ladder, thinking it was better for just ME to fall off the ladder rather than bring the whole ladder down with me. I landed flat on my back with a WHUMP but thankfully the ladder stayed upright. I was instantly surrounded by the set crew (“We’re SO sorry!”) and a few of my cast mates, who helped me brush off my princess dress and pick out wood slivers from my arm. The best part is that this accident was saved for all of posterity… we watched the video of the performance a few months later just for kicks, and could audibly hear the tower hitting the set piece (THUMP) and my body consequently hitting the floor (WHUMP). But hey, no harm no foul!
The weird part of these accidents during this particular show is this: a college friend of mine, Nicole, was also part of an “Into The Woods” production at her high school, and they experienced some freak accidents, too. If I remember right, one of them involved a falling two-by-four that hit Nicole in the head. Coincidence? Are these woods haunted or something?