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Getting a bang out of the action at Riverfront Theater

To arms! To arms!

The Manatee Players are mad as heck after the accidental shooting during a dress rehearsal in the quaint Riverfront Theater last Sunday.

By another acting troupe, the Sarasota Seniors Theater, no less.

So they’re tightening up the rental regulations for outside organizations.

We understand they also considered changing their admission policies for patrons, but decided otherwise.

To wit:

n Patdowns will be administered at the door.

n If you do not have a weapon, one will be given to you.

n Bulletproof vests to match black tie evening attire will be available, gratis.

OK, I’m joking.

What happened is ludicrous enough.

At the end of a scene in John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” actor Bill Bordy, 75, was supposed to shoot Fred Kellerman, 81, behind the head.

Boy, did he.

Miraculously, the bullet deflected off Kellerman’s noggin and clipped his left ear, triggering reaction worldwide.

“Prop malfunction,” said the London Telegraph headline.

I’ll say.

Who in their right mind brings a real weapon as a prop in a play?

I can understand wanting to end a show with a bang.

But not with a .32 revolver carrying a live round.

Bordy said he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

Good grief.

What famous last words.

Or the first words uttered to St. Peter after one’s sudden arrival at the Pearly Gates.

Kellerman was lucky.

He may not have been so fortunate even with a prop gun since blanks can pack lethal force.

n TV actor Jon-Erik Hexum shot himself fatally on a set in 1984.

n Actor Brandon Lee was shot and killed accidentally by another actor filming “The Crow” in 1993.

n A Utah teenager died last year after discharging a prop gun to be used in a school production of “Oklahoma.”

Manatee Players say prop guns are strictly regulated for their performances.

Real firearms are forbidden.

Those terms will now apply to troupes wishing to rent Riverfront Theater.

That Bradenton’s City Council and Police Department want to take it a step further, prohibiting real firearms in theater productions in the city — an ordinance banning ordnance — may seem like overkill to some.

It’s a common sense issue, but not everyone’s got the common sense to know that packing at the Riverfront Theater is never a cool idea.

Ask Kellerman.

Could’ve been curtains, indeed.

Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification.

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