Despite real shooting, one-night play goes on

BRADENTON — They were practicing for a play but unfortunately the gun was very real.

Bill Bordy, vice president of the Sarasota Senior Theater, Inc., was in the middle of rehearsals for John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” at the Manatee Players Riverfront theater at about 5:15 p.m. Monday when he picked up a pistol he had borrowed from another cast member to use in a scene. The script called for Bordy to shoot the back of the head of Fred Kellerman, another actor. But instead of a fake pop, what came out was a bullet from a fully loaded 32-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver.

“It was accidental but it could have been deadly,” said Lt. Darrell Akeman with the Bradenton Police Dept. He said the gun had been borrowed for the play but no one had checked to see if it was loaded. Akeman said it had been used in a previous play.

The bullet missed its mark but grazed Kellerman’s left ear. He was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital and was listed in stable condition Monday night.

“If he could have gotten it patched up, he would have gone on,” Bordy said.

“It was my fault, I should have looked, I should have checked it,” a remorseful Bordy said following Monday’s incident.

He was the director and an actor in the play and had so much on his mind, he forgot to check the gun before the scene, he said.

When he fired the gun and saw blood coming from Kellerman’s head, all he could think was, ‘Oh God, no.’

“Luckily I was a lousy shot,” Bordy said.

The incident is still under investigation, Akeman said.

But, as the old theatrical proverb says, the show must go on. The 7:30 p.m. performance of “Comedie Tonight!”, a series of skits went on as scheduled at the theater on 12th Street West.

Another man read the parts for Kellerman.

Sarasota Senior Theater, a nonprofit organization for people 55 and older interested in the theater, had rented the Manatee theater for the one night performance.