It was my second time directing at 212, but my first big undertaking, and I was 19 years old. I decided that I wanted to do WEST SIDE STORY for our winter 2008 production, and with some hessitation, the board voted in the submission. I really had an amazing time taking on what I knew was a big production to mount; working with my peers and coming together to put up the show.
As with so many larger productions, we're always in need of more guys to fill out the cast- and West Side was no exception. That being said, we filled it out-enough-- but we couldn't spare one male- therefore there were no understudies...
During the second weekend of our 3 week run, Saturday nights performance came around and everyone was really comfortable into their parts. Perhaps too comfortable. In the first scene there is a brawl between the Jets and the Sharks, where everyone was choreographed duking it out. Our leading Jet Riff (Mike Cerqua) threw a punch - as choreographed- to leading Shark Bernardo (Danny Blomquist)- however the punch was a bit too close and actually made contact. I watched from the back of the auditorium and thought- WOW! That was really convncing. I was so proud. Then I noticed Danny was hunched over and left the stage. Not blocked that way... I ran.
The show went on and thankfully our Chino (Bill Zenz) took control and covered Bernardo's few lines in the opening scene. With a trail of blood from stage right, across the doc to the producers office, I found Danny a little out of it and covered in blood. He was taken to the emergency room and the show was still happening. We needed a replacement and had no understudy. We told people to keep moving, it'll get figured out. There were no options, and so, the gayest Bernardo was born.
Earlier in Bernardo's next scene, Maria and Anita are fitting her into her dress for the dance and up to the point when Maria and Anita took the stage, we were still unsure of what we were going to do. I'll never forget knocking on the door, opening it up and the look on Anita's (Emily Brodzik) face to see who her partner would be for the evening. There was no poker face.
The whole cast bonded together and ran lines and covered for all my mistakes. It was one of those fast-stead moments that was a complete rollercoaster and I'll never forget how proud I was- not of my performance--it was abismal-- but how everyone worked together to make my lack of performance work for our audience. I was so grateful that Danny was alright and that I would never have to do that again. And then he called out the next day. (Jerk ;P ) He did resume the role of Bernardo for our 3rd week of the run, just with a thicker nose than usual.
To our Tony (Tony Christopherson) - "Bottles, Guns, Knvifes..." "Weapons this, weapons that." I promise to never steal your battle gear again.