Given the amount of time Broadway actors spend at work, it’s no surprise that they enjoy a good joke—often at a co-worker’s expense! In celebration of April Fool’s Day, Broadway.com asked some of our favorite stars to share their funniest work-related pranks. In some cases, the stars initiated the practical joke; in others, the joke was on them. Read on for true tales of behind-the-scenes tomfoolery.
KEITH NOBBS (Michael McCormick in Lombardi)
"Most pranks I've been the victim of are just actors doing things during a performance that they know will make the other person laugh. Bastards! They usually keep composure, and you are left crumpled over trying to think of dead puppies or swine flu or anything deeply not funny. In this vein, I will share a story related to me by my friend Suzanne Grodner:
There is a regional production of The Miracle Worker. In the first scene, a doctor enters and says something to the effect of: 'Mr. and Mrs. Keller, I've examined your daughter and I regret to inform you that Helen is deaf, dumb and blind.' Crucial role in the play...sets everything up. The actor playing the doctor in this production was not good. Not believable as a human, much less a doctor. After a matinee preview, the producers decide that they have to let this actor go.
They go over to him, explain it's not going to work out, he'll get two weeks pay, etc. After they walk away, the stage manager reminds the producers that they had approved personal days for the understudy to go to a wedding And they have a show at 8:00 that night. So a producer walk back to the actor and says, 'I apologize. I know this is being poorly handled, but if you could go on for tonight's show and tomorrow's matinee, we will pay you on top of your two weeks.' The actor says, 'Sure, no problem.'
The actor then goes across the street to a bar and gets wasted. Ridiculously wasted. Offensively wasted. He goes back to the theater and gets ready for the show. He makes his entrance, stumbles on stage, stares into the faces of the other actors and says, 'Mr. and Mrs. Keller. I've examined your daughter and I regret to inform you... she's dead.'
The actress playing Mrs. Keller looks at the actor playing Mr. Keller and then says in one of the bravest attempts ever to save a moment says, 'I'm sure you're mistaken.'
With drunken crazy eyes, he looks back at her and says, 'Listen, Lady. I'm a DOCTOR. I know dead when I see dead.'
'Well, I am sure you're mistaken. (Pause.) And you would find... if you examined my daughter again... that she is in fact... not dead... but maybe...probably...deaf, dumb and blind.'
Perhaps apocryphal. But a good story. And talk about a prank to another actor!"