I love hearing “war stories” of things that go wrong during shows. In theatre, Murphy’s law is always in effect — if something can get broken, go missing, or otherwise just go entirely wrong, it will! Read along to find out some funny, strange, and just plain dangerous stories with props that have happened in shows I’ve been involved in!
- I was working as part of a local crew at a WWE show here in London and one of my tasks was to find a certain female wrestler in the building to give her a bullwhip to be used in the ring! Totally random…
- At the same show, one of the WWE crew tried to get me to wash a giant bucket of worms for one of the wrestlers to use in the ring. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am completely phobic of worms — so believe me, I refused that one!
- During a production of ASSASSINS, one of the actors was supposed to drop a breakaway bottle into an upturned rehearsal block onstage. One night he completely missed the box, and the bottle not only smashed onstage… it smashed to SMITHEREENS and spread all the way across the stage. Another actor came on after him with a broom and sang his solo while sweeping up the mess!
- At a prop meeting for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, one of the new volunteers to the team looked over the list of props, which included a “dead cat on a string,” a “dead body,” and “four tombstones” — to which she asked me, “What kind of show is my son participating in?!” (She was joking… I hope!)
- Other weird props I’ve asked for in my shows have included “a dead snake in a fruit basket” and a bullet-ridden will (Curse of the Cobra’s Kiss), an oversized fork (Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.), a “shadow” (Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.), a turkey and a bowl of chocolate pudding (Through the Looking Glass), seven matching flower-girl bouquets (Annie Warbucks), twenty-three swords and daggers… and a plate of chocolate chip cookies (Jolly Roger and the Pirate Queen).
- Prop weapons are always a risk to bring onstage, but treated properly and with adequate training, can be perfectly safe. However, retractable knives are pretty much the worst thing you can use onstage. They break super easily and fail to retract frequently too! One of my friends was stabbed (for real) with a retractable knife that didn’t retract. I’ve also had so many retractable knives break backstage and onstage. They’re just not worth the trouble!
- The same actor in ASSASSINS who couldn’t hit the box with the bottle also forgot to put his earplug in his ear one night when he was supposed to aim a prop gun at his head and fire — that was definitely a painful, ear-ringing experience that actor won’t forget!
Do you have any funny, strange or scary prop stories! Share them on the Facebook page, or in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Malcolm Miller