Part of the excitement and terror of live theater is that one never knows what will happen—and we’ve seen plenty of unexpected developments during the course of our seventeen seasons…
I’ll never forget the performance in which a large piece of our scenery flew off the stage and into the front row. Mercifully, the scenic panel was light—and dutifully caught by a gentleman in attendance. He simply laid it on the floor at his feet and went on enjoying the production! (Please don’t tell our insurance company).
There was also the time our sound equipment failed and a stage full of singers lost their music accompaniment mid-song. But they kept singing and no one was the wiser. Several guests later complimented us on our clever use of a cappella vocals.
There was no fooling the audience, however, when our air conditioning once gave up the ghost during a hot summer matinee performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” I nervously noticed the thermostat gauge pushing 90 degrees in our packed house. The only thing to do was to face the situation squarely and address the audience at intermission. I told them the cast was willing to continue performing and that we would pass out free cold water bottles. “After all,” I observed, “watching the cowardly lion perform on stage under the hot lights in a heavy fur costume makes me feel downright cool.” No one left and, in fact, the musical ended with a standing—albeit sweaty—ovation!
On another occasion, an actor’s costume snagged on the lever of our fire alarm—accidentally setting off all kinds of commotion during a performance. Since we must take all alarms seriously, I immediately directed the audience to the exits. As everyone began evacuating, we confirmed the alarm was false. Our guests cheerfully returned to their seats and the performance picked up exactly where we left off as if nothing unusual happened. The incident confirmed in my mind that our guests are the most gracious in the world.
During yet another performance of one of our serious dramas, two actors accidentally stepped on each other’s lines. This struck both of them funny and they got the giggles. The actor’s feeble attempts to mask their laughter failed miserably. Naturally, the audience was convulsed and hilarity ensued for a full five minutes as the actors struggled mightily to regain some sense of drama. They never did. And, while nothing particularly dramatic came of the drama, the audience was thoroughly entertained.
And then there was the performance in which one of Snow White’s dwarves sneezed—only to have his fake nose fly off. The audience loved this unscripted flub and cheered when the scene ended
When beards fall off chins, when spotlights blow up, when microphones fail and when cues are missed, we still find that God can redeem these frustrating moments. “The show must go” is not just a theater cliché, it is good biblical practice akin to the encouragement of Ephesians 6:13 and 14—“Having done all to stand, stand.”
God can make the most of our perseverance under pressure. Moses observes in Psalm 90 that God also numbers our days. He knows them all and they are all in His loving hands. So even in those moments when everything seems to run amuck, it’s reassuring to know that the Author of creativity is never off script.