TheaterMania Logo
Theater News

Horrifying Moments

Bryan Batt, Karen Mason, and Louise DuArt share their most embarrassing professional moments. logo
Considering the fact that my performing career has been a vast and endless series of heinous moments, it's difficult to pick just one. Should I choose the time I played a Dancing Tampon at the Kimberly-Clark convention? Too obvious and no punch line. I'm fairly certain that the most humiliating point was when I worked as a singing telegram courier in Texas. My regular costume was a blue bellhop uniform with a bugle/kazoo, which I would play during the instrumental tap break. The Christmas holidays, however, introduced a fresh hell into my life. I was a singing/tap-dancing fruitcake. (Thank you. And I heard that.) The body of the costume was a brown sponge-like lump decorated with red and green plastic cherries. I wore brown tights along with the tap shoes, which is a fascinating visual for any man. To top off the look, there was a tin pan tied to my head, which was to be filled with whipped cream. It was an especially warm Dallas December, so I would wait until right before I rang the doorbell to spray Redi-Whip onto my head to slow the melting process. You can't imagine the looks of sheer horror I received as the unsuspecting recipients of my performance opened their front door.

I talked to some other performers, who were proud to tell me about the low points in their careers. We should wear them like badges of honor. Not unlike Paris, we'll always have these moments to remember. : WHAT WAS THE MOST HORRIFYING MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER?

Bryan Batt

(Currently Monty in Saturday Night Fever)

My very first professional job was as a gigantic kangaroo for the Toys-R-Us in New Orleans. I wanna tell you, this costume smelled so bad from all the other hundreds of people who had been sweating in it, the customers were running out of the store! The manager finally came over and said, "You smell so bad, we will pay you for the entire day if you just leave." Please keep in mind that it was the costume that smelled, not me! moment happened right after I moved to New York. I was cast in a showcase, which is theater talk for "never gonna see the lights of Broadway." It was a three-and-a-half hour musical epic about bootlegging. I played a policeman named Francesco Paolo Bonsignore, and my big song was "Bella Ragazza, I Love You Alotsa." The number ended with a big tarantella dance in which I played the tambourine. I also had the thrill of singing, "Mia bambina, I can't wait to see ya." It needed work. Of course, they were telling us that this thing was going to Broadway. I guess the moment when I decided that I simply HAD to get an agent was during a song I sang to the leading lady called "It's Love, Love, Love." She wore a Gibson Girl hairdo, and the bun on top was fake. When I went to hold her, of course the bun fell on the floor! I was trained that if something fell on stage, you were supposed to acknowledge it, so I picked it up, singing all the way, and stuck it back in her hair, like some insane combination bootlegger/hairdresser.

Karen Mason
(Davenport's, Chicago May 3-14)

My first unfortunate incident took place during the time of tube tops. Was that the early 1980s? I was opening a very glamorous new club, and thought I was the sassiest thing in this tube top! I entered the stage with much fanfare and started my opening number, whirled around to look at my drummer, and his eyes nearly fell out of his head. While I was being oh-so-perky, my tube top had totally slid while I was jumping up and down. I clearly did half of the opening number with my...self...hanging out. I don't remember the exact song I was singing but I'm terribly afraid it was "I Can See It."

My Broadway horror happened the very first time I went on as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. I didn't have a chance to work with the gun in rehearsals, because you have to pay the prop people to work with it. So someone showed me how to shoot it once. So, there I was on stage in the scene where Norma goes mad and shoots Joe. I was wearing a huge lacy schmata with millions of feathers all over the sleeves. They wanted the gun hidden by the sleeve, but nobody told me that I had to lift the feathers out of the way before I shot the gun. So I was screaming, "Joe, please don't go," and shot the gun. It looked like a black chicken had exploded. I just shot the hell out of the feathered sleeve. I could hear people giggling off stage. This was my big scene! It was a tad difficult keeping my concentration while standing in huge clouds of billowing black feathers. At least my top stayed up.

Louise DuArt
(National tour of Together Again with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman)

I was performing in Catskills on Broadway, and as I was doing my schtick, I felt something dripping on the right side of my head. I couldn't really move out of the way, because I was in a tight spotlight. So, I continued. Now, I'm hearing people laughing to the right side of me. They weren't laughing so much on the left side.

I finally got off stage, ran up to my dressing room and looked in the mirror. A pigeon had decided to have an incontinence problem from the rafters of the theater--onto my head! I guess he had too much fiber in his diet, and he took it out on me.

Tagged in this Story