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How Embarrassing!

Cathy Rigby and David Alan Basche relate their most mortifying moments, on stage and off. logo



Cathy Rigby
(The Cat in the Hat in Seussical the Musical)

"One night when I was doing Peter Pan, the little boy playing Michael had eaten too much pizza, ice cream, and root beer between shows. We had just sung 'Build A House For Wendy' and he threw up right there on stage. Nobody knew what to do. Wendy had a line, then he threw up again. The audience was stone silent. After the third time, I said, 'You've done way too much flying,' and I walked him offstage. Peter Pan had to get a towel and clean it up in front of the entire audience. It was not glamorous!

"Another charming event happened when I was at a Burger King with my 18-year old daughter. It was summer and I was wearing one of those cute, short skirts. I had just come from the restroom and was walking the very long walk from the ladies room through the main part of the restaurant towards the door. All of a sudden, I heard a woman say, 'Excuse me, ma'am?' I thought she had recognized me. I turned around, ready to sign something, and she was pointing to my skirt, which was jammed up in my underwear. As if that weren't awful enough, I had on a really bad pair of underwear that should have been thrown away, because the elastic was totally shot. My daughter was so embarrassed, she wouldn't even walk with me! And there I was, thinking that someone was going to ask if I was Cathy Rigby! 'No, your dress is up in your butt!' How did I not feel that breeze?"


David Alan Basche
(The Tragedy of Macbeth at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre; Three Sisters, NBC-TV)

"Gee, where do I start?! There have been so many embarrassing moments! One of the worst was at an audition for a new play here in New York. I went in and there were five women and two men seated at the table, so I walked over and said hello, then began to do a very serious, dramatic scene. I felt like no one was really paying attention, though; I wasn't really 'getting' them. They were looking down, not at my face. I finally finished and thanked them for their time. That's when I noticed that my fly was wide open and my underwear was sticking out. I was too mortified to even zip up in front of them; I just walked.

"Another time, I was testing for a sitcom in a screening room. A beautifully carpeted screening room, I might add. As I was walking down the steps to the main floor, I tripped on the thick carpet and I landed on the floor, flat on my back with my feet in the air. The head of the network and all of the casting people were terrified that I had shattered my pelvis or something. Of course, I was utterly ashamed. I just lay back and casually said, 'Can you all see from the back row? I think I'll do the scene from right here.' Unfortunately, there was no ottoman in the room, so I couldn't pretend to be auditioning for a remake of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

"When I was in Snakebit at the Grove Street Playhouse, the stage was about six inches from the first row. There was a scene in which my character was very angry: slamming a suitcase around, throwing clothes into it, sobbing and swearing. I threw a big pair of boots into the suitcase and the woman playing my wife had to say, 'Honey, you have to wear those boots, you can't pack them.' That's when I was to remove them from the suitcase and put them on. I looked in the suitcase and grabbed the right boot, but there was no left one. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some poor guy in the front row holding my boot. Silently, with terror in his eyes, he lifted the boot up with two fingers; I snatched it from him, growled, and went back into the scene.

"I was onstage with Eli Wallach in Visiting Mr. Green, and there was a point where I was to run off stage to get a surprise cake for him. So I ran off as usual, saying, 'Wait, I have a gift for you!' I came back on with the cake behind my back and, all of a sudden, five bookshelves on the set came crashing down. Five hundred books and thousands of tchotchkes crashed all around Eli. There was a big cloud of dust and debris, the audience gasped, and then there was a moment of silence. Then Eli turned to me and said, 'That's some gift!' He's the master."


Click here to visit Jim Caruso's website.

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