It was the first time in Rick Kerby’s 14 years with Manatee Players that he had ever interrupted a show.
“The first time in my entire professional career, actually,” said Kerby, Manatee Players’ producing artistic director and the director of the company’s current staging of “The Producers.”
About an hour into Thursday’s opening night performance, Kerby stepped on stage in the middle of the scene, announced that an actor had been injured and that the show was being delayed. A minute or two later, he returned to the stage and asked “Is there a doctor in the house?” Soon after that, he announced that the evening’s performance would be canceled.
Actor Craig Weiskerger slipped and fell during a dance number. He separated his shoulder and had to be taken to an emergency room. Weiskerger was portraying Leo Bloom, one of the title roles, so the rest of Thursday’s show couldn’t go on.
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On Friday, Kerby announced that Weiskerger, who had said that Leo was one of the roles he had always dreamed of playing, would be back in the role starting Saturday. Friday evening’s show, however, had to be canceled.
“It looks as though he’s going to be in a sling for about a week and a half,” Kerby said. “We’re using (Friday night) as a reblocking rehearsal. He’s comfortable as long as we can work around the issues of his not being able to move his arm.”
Weiskerger will be back in the role on Saturday, with his arm in a sling.
Despite a common misconception, community theaters virtually never have understudies. Even most professional productions don’t.
“Comfortable” may be a relative term though. Kerby said Weiskerger is “in pain” and was taking medications.
Patrons who attended Thursday’s truncated show, and those who have tickets for Friday, can get refunds or exchanges by contacting the Manatee Performing Arts Center box office.
Kerby said the company is looking at ways to add extra shows to accommodate ticket-holders from the first two nights of opening week. One possibility is adding a Tuesday show or two during the run of the show, which is scheduled to continue through Aug. 27.
“The Producers” is a hit musical that Mel Brooks based on his 1968 film. The story concerns a veteran Broadway producer and an accomplice who launch a scheme to raise money for a lavish musical and then have it fail. It’s perhaps most famous for the song “Springtime for Hitler.”