On the stage and behind the scenes

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Chapter 45: The Show Must Go On

looking at sky

What can go wrong on stage? The better question is, “What CAN’T go wrong on stage?” Over these many years in theater, there have been many mishaps.

When we were outdoors at the amphitheater, we used real fire. More than once we told the outdoor cast of “Lord of Light” to lower their torches when they ran under the rock arch with the half curtain!

Still, nearly every performance that flame-toting cast set the arch on fire.

The audience sat in wonder of the show as the headsets were buzzing with, “Fire! The arch is on fire!” until the stage manager beat it out. That curtain was short lived.


looking at sky
looking at sky

For more reasons than one, we referred to these cast members as "firestarters."

There was the time the stone wouldn’t roll away from the tomb where “Jesus” had been placed after the crucifixion. The angel, inside the tomb, jerked the rope that was supposed to pull the stone, but the rope broke..... angels really can fly!

And when you schedule an Easter sunrise performance, make sure that “Jesus” gets a wake-up call. It’s true – the show must go on! But try telling the Easter story without Jesus!

demon at tomb

Sometimes, it felt like there were REAL demons trying to hold the stone closed.

Jesus at tomb

But one way or another, it opened and Jesus WAS in place!

Playing the part of Jesus isn’t all glory, especially when the soldier responsible for lifting your body from the cross loses his footing and falls.

With you attached.

Try delivering passionate lines when the clip breaks while wearing your microphone belt-pack inside your pants. And, while you deliver your most passionate lines, you can feel the microphone sliding down your pants leg.

You’re performing an emotional scene with your stage wife but you hear audience giggles. You’re a bit distracted but attempt to stay in character - until you feel the peculiar, cool breeze coming through the vent in your pants. Then you remember that your pants don’t have a vent.

It’s bad enough when you fall on stage while dancing. But it’s worse when you’re dancing and your skirt falls. Makes you happy you invested in spanks!

Christmas dancers

Synchronizing cues is vital or else you might end up under the wall when it falls! That’s what happened to a demon character in “Lord of Light.” That one required some stitches to the head and got a whole lot of weird looks in the ER waiting room.


Imagine walking into the ER like this!

two demons

...or this!

And imagine how you feel when you’re standing in front of a huge portrait of the Capitol Building projected across three gigantic screens - but your mind goes blank as you say: “I’m standing in front of ... I’m standing in front of ... I’m standing in front of ...

And someone in the audience calls out: “The Capitol Building!”

Or you are playing the part of Child Jesus in the temple with the Pharisees and you’re supposed to say: “Their hearts are far from me.” But what comes out is: “Their farts are far from me.”

An affectionate scene quickly turns comedic when your spangled headpiece tangles in your partner’s hair; thus creating the Siamese dance.

Backstage is a show all its own!
Minutes before the Angel of the Lord is to enter for his tenor solo he decides to repair his armor.

Result: a drill bit through his wrist with the armor permanently attached.
Can you just imagine what the ER staff said that night when they got home?

Angel of the Lord

The Angel of the Lord should be doing this. But instead he's on his way to the ER, impaled by a drill bit!

And who could forget the time our three squealy pigs jumped out of the pen during an emotional portrayal of the prodigal son. They started running and screaming across the stage - as if it were the biblical story of the Gadarene demoniac?
Guess which show the audience enjoyed the most?

Most of our animals have been on stage so long that they have learned their cues. Once, at a Christmas performance, I lingered at the manger longer than our horse, Blue, thought was necessary. He lowered his massive head and shoved me toward the exit.

Birdie with horse

Having a camel opens up all kinds of opportunities for trouble! For instance, if you carry a basket of bread on your head, make sure the camel isn’t blocked to stand behind you! While you’re singing praises, Sheba, the camel is chowing down.

Sheba in cast

Then there are the children, preschoolers whose courage is far bigger than their bladders.
More than one preschooler playing “Shorty” at Christmas has wet his pants while saying his lines and, even though their sneakers are squishy, they keep going, because even they know, the show must go on!

Shorty 1
Shorty 2
shorty 3
Shorty 4

We could go on and on with years of stage stories; funny now but, at the time, disasters.

And so, my friend, we learn possibly the greatest LIFE lesson that theater teaches:

Folks, stuff happens. Some of it is BIG stuff. Some isn’t. Whether it is pee in your shoes or a drill bit through your wrist, you have to find a way to go on.

Disappointments, embarrassments, disasters, mistakes – they are all part of life’s script.

But, each day is a new scene.
So, whatever is going on in your life and whatever mistakes haunt you from your past – find a way to get back out on your stage! Because life isn’t a rehearsal, it’s the show!

And the show must go on!

cast on stage


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