Cathy Rigby and David Alan Basche relate their most mortifying moments, on stage and off.
: WHAT'S THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU, ON STAGE OR OFF?
(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."