Groundhog Day’s Andy Karl Injured. History of Infamous Broadway Injuries.

Saturday’s matinee of Groundhog Day was canceled, and the evening performance went on with an understudy, after the show’s star Andy Karl injured himself at its Friday evening performance.

Update:Producers said the Broadway musical will open as plan
ned on Monday, and injured star Andy Karl will lead the cast.

“I’m home now and I have no broken bones but tweaked my knee after a poorly landed leap frog,” Karl wrote on Twitter and Instagram, after returning from the Emergency Room Friday night. “Finishing the show for all the @groundhogdaybwy fans and audience members was something I had to do.” He continued: “I’m gonna get it looked at by specialist before I go back on stage, but know I love this show and this company and everyone that supports me more than you’ll ever know…”

On Monday, an hour before curtain, he wrote on Instagram again:

“As some of you have already heard, last Friday I took a leap onstage I’ve made more times than I can even count and caught a bad landing. My doctor has confirmed it’s a torn ACL — just one of those crazy flukes that can happen when doing a physically demanding show like this. Good news it can be managed with rest and physical therapy, which I’ve already begun. The whole crew at “Groundhog Day” have been working our butts off to get this show up and running so, as they say, "the show must go on." I can’t wait to see everyone on our opening night and am so grateful for the continued support.  Let's do this!!!! @groundhogdaybwy”

If Karl’s injury is the most high profile on Broadway for a while, it is far from unusual. . Many are never publicized. The possibility of injury during live theater is viewed as an occupational hazard – “as serious as injuries in a factory,” a spokesman for Actors Equity told me. “Factory workers are not working on a raked stage, and they’re not flying.” Overall, the incidence of recorded injuries among entertainers is almost 50 percent higher than for the average worker, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A perhaps typical injury was the one suffered by Gabriel Olds, who played Rodolpho opposite Brittany Murphy and Anthony LaPaglia in the 1997 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s play, “The View from the Bridge.”  The injury wasn’t….dramatic. “It was a repetitive stress injury from wrestling with Anthony LaPaglia eight times a week,” he told me.  “This is pretty standard for doing a Broadway play for nine months.”

But superstitious Broadway buffs might view the role of Rodolpho as cursed.  Earlier, James Hayden played the character,  a romantic Italian immigrant, in the 1983 Broadway production, and died of a heroin overdose shortly afterward.

Later, Santino Fontana, hired to play Rodolpho in the 2010 Broadway revival starring Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson, had to drop out of the play when during a preview performance he was injured in a boxing scene, leading to a concussion.

It was a far more serious injury that he at first realized, and he was forced to withdraw from the production. “From an MRI it looked like I had been in a car accident,” he told me years later. (Santino Fontana: The Unluckiest Lucky Actor in New York.)  “The doctor flat-out said ‘we don’t know how much your memory will come back.’ I couldn’t get through the alphabet without stopping. I got migraines. I couldn’t use my eyes for three weeks; I had to stay in dark rooms.”

Even when he started to recover, it was a tricky time to try to get a new role. “You don’t want to appear injured – but you don’t want to get re-injured.”

It took him six months before he did a reading. It was for Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet. “I read ‘It’s been a bad year’– that was the character’s last line – and I lost it.” He started sobbing. “They probably thought ‘Oh, we’ve got a really good actor.’

Some of Broadway’s other  headline-making injuries:

Rehearsing the flying in “Peter Pan” in 1960, Mary Martin smashed into a wall, breaking her left elbow in two places. “The man who was supposed to pull me back was new, and he got so thrilled he forgot,” Martin recalled decades later.

In 2004, Nathan Lane suffered bruised and gashed legs when he slipped through a trapdoor in The Frogs.

In 2005, Idina Menzel fell through a trap door during one of her final performances of Wicked and broke a rib.  The show was halted for 45 minutes while her understudy Shoshana Bean took over for her, and played the next two performances as well, Menzel was unable to participate fully in what was supposed to be her final performance, but did come out for the final scene – not made up in green but in a red track suit.

In 2007, James Carpinello broke his leg in three places during a preview performance of Xanadu. He was replaced by Cheyenne Jackson, who took over the role for the 15 month run of the show.

Adrian Bailey

In 2008, Adrian Bailey, who was performing in his 13th show on Broadway, The Little Mermaid, fell over 20 feet through an open trap door during a matinee performance, suffering severe injuries, including a shattered pelvis, two broken wrists and a broken back.

In 2009, three different performers suffered injuries on “Fela!”  two weeks after its opening, forcing the musical to cancel a performance while they recovered.

There were so many serious injuries during the run of Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark – T.V. Carpio, Daniel Curry, Natalie Mendoza, Joshua Kobak and Christopher Tierney – that it became both a local outrage and a national joke. In December 2010, Andy Samberg appeared as “the fourth understudy of Spider-man” on Saturday Night Live, hanging upside down from the ceiling. “The first one broke his wrist, the next guy shattered his leg, the next guy just exploded,” he said. “It’s a musical; it happens.You know how many people die every year doing Jersey Boys?” But it wasn’t funny to the performers, none of whom have been on Broadway since.


Tupac Shakur At The Palace. Harry Potter Star Broadway-Bound. Sondheim Censored. Week in New York Theater

“The theater is the only institution in the world which has been dying for 4,000 years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.”-John Steinbeck,

Another theater season is dead.

But a new one has already begun, with the opening of “Holler When Ya Hear Me,” a new musical using the songs of Tupac Shakur. (Review below.)

The Week in New York Theater

June 15, 2014

Broadway acting debut -check. Next: James Franco will be making his theatrical directorial debut for Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater’s, The Long Shrift July 7-Aug. 23 .  Written by Robert Boswell, the play tells the story of a dorky teenager thrown in jail for rape, who meets his accuser nine years later.

Nine Thoughts on Theater Awards, clever/informative by Robert Kaplowitz, Tony winner in sound design (Fela)

Who and what are the new avant-garde? Kate Kreme begins an answer

Closing today:

Tony Shalhoub as quirky George S. Kauffman, mentor and collaborator to Moss Hart, portrayed by Santino Fontana

Tony Shalhoub as quirky George S. Kauffman, mentor and collaborator to Moss Hart, portrayed by Santino Fontana

Act One (Santino Fontana, the Unluckiest Lucky Actor in New York)

A Raisin in the Sun

17 Amazing Theater Cities That Aren’t London or New York –



An evening of lost Cole Porter songs, The Ambassador Revue, will be performed June 27 only, at Town Hall.


The World Cup Translated for Theater People

Best Plays by Women That Aren’t Being Produced (and Should Be)

Using improv comedy theater to prevent rape: Sex Signals


Rupert Grint

Rupert Grint to debut on Broadway

Harry Potter star  joins Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick etc in the revival of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only A Play, making his Broadway debut. It opens October 9th.


A Tony bounce? All The Way way up in attendance (13.6%), and in grosses. A Gentlemans Guide slightly DOWN in attendance, but also substantially up in grosses.  Aladdin, Raisin, All The Way, Beautiful, Hedwig all got positive airtime at Tonys, all this week grossed $million+.

Playwrights David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage will join the faculty of @ColumbiaSchArts, which offers a 3-year playwriting MFA.


l’m really enjoying having a connection with a live audience, said James Franco to 100s of whooping teens. My article for Broadway Direct, Young Audiences Connect with Of Mice and Men.

James Franco on the difference between movies and theater, and what happens now:

“I went into this project with the object of wanting to learn,”  and that’s what happened. “You have to project your voice in a different way. There are different kinds of rhythms. On stage, the whole play depends on everybody’s rhythm. If an actor is taking too long, the whole play is affected.

“I really like being able to step on stage, and you’re in that world, and it’s all around you. A camera is just a moment. It’s not the same kind of immersion.

“The energy you get from a live audience is really great as a performer. I’m loving that. I’m gobbling it up. It’s a new chapter in my life that I hope to visit some more.

“I’m having one of the best times of my life doing this. But I’m not going to give up movies. I don’t get trapped into any one thing.”


It’s official: Honeymoon in Vegas by Jason R Brown opens at Brooks Atkinson Theater January 15, starring Tony Danza,Rob McClure and Brynn O’Malley.

Sondheim On Changing ‘Into The Woods’ for Disney, and Living With Censorship

Meryl Streep will reportedly play Maria Callas in film of Terrence McNally’s play Master Class. Mike Nichols will direct.

Are artists born or made? Two studies suggest that artistic talent begins in the womb, shaped by


The Escape by William Wells Brown, oldest surviving play by African-American (1858). Sunday New Brooklyn Theater

Holler If Ya Hear Me 6

Holler If Ya Hear Me Review

Eighteen years after his murder at the age of 25, Tupac Shakur has made it to Broadway, in a show that has taken on the awesome challenge of weaving 21 songs and poems by the charismatic rapper and actor into a newly created story about the struggling community on a block in a Midwestern industrial city…Despite a conscientious effort, the story is what is most disappointing about “Holler.”  The multi-character plot that replaces the expected bio-drama is at times muddled or poorly paced…There are enough arresting moments, the music is often exciting enough, and the large cast is talented enough, to have made me wonder whether  it would have worked better without a plot…

Full review, photo essay, and three of the songs.



Puppet Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s worst play done like Avenue Q by @PuppetShakes July 24 – August 17 Theater Row.


James Earl Jones reads from Othello, Adam Baldwin Macbeth etc in Shakespeare in America. FREE June 30 Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Recap of panels at the annual TCG conference: 1. Taylor Mac and  Craig Lucas 2.  talks about gaming. 3. diversity. Theaters foster diversity by supporting artists:”We need many things,because we’ve made a terrible career choice”~Kristoffer Diaz

Mamet shuts down a production of sexual harassment drama Oleanna because female part cast w/male actor

We employ camaraderie to kill, Stefan Wolfert learned in combat… and from Henry V. (Latest in series.) The third in his series about a combat veteran discovers Shakespeare

Let The Awards Begin. Loving Santino, Anika. The Week(s) in New York Theater

TheaterAwardslogos2014Judgment is nigh; now that the theater season has ended,  the awards season begins. The Pulitzer Prize for Drama has already been bestowed (see April 14 below.) The winners will be announced tonight, May 4th, for the Lucille Lortel Awards for Off-Broadway (Lortel nominees). Lortel winners. Then:

New York Drama Critics Circle: May 5

Outer Critics Circle: May 12, announced (ceremony May 22). Outer Critics Circle nominees

Drama League Awards: May 17. Drama League nominees

OBIEs: May 19

Drama Desk Awards: June 1 Drama Desk nominees

Tony Awards: June 8. Tony Award nominees

The Theatre World Awards, for performers making their Broadway debuts, will be announced soon as well.

For a run-down of the differences in these awards, please see my 2013 Theater Awards Roundup and Guide. For my take on theater awards, see my piece for Howlround: Tony Snubs, Pulitzer Flubs, Theater Award Excitement

The Week(s) in New York Theater

Monday, April 14, 2014

ouisa Krause and Aaron Clifton Moten in an awkward touching and funny moment in Annie Baker's "The Flick" at Playwrights Horizons

Louisa Krause and Aaron Clifton Moten in an awkward touching and funny moment in Annie Baker’s “The Flick”

2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Winner: Annie Baker’s The Flick 

Now that it’s won the Pulitzer, The Flick will reopen at Barrow Street Theater, says producer.

Pulitzer finalists:

Fun Home

Fun Home 7

The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence

Watson the robot

Watson the robot



Santino Fontana’s Act One, The Unluckiest Lucky Actor in New York


Ofmicenandmen3O'Dowd, Franco-Photo by Richard Phibbs
My review of Of Mice and Men: James Franco, Chris O’Down Relive The Great Depression


Meryl Streep’s advice to new actors: “…educate yourself in everything but acting. Learn about the world”

Act One Vivian Beaumont Theater

My review of Act One: Moss Hart’s Beloved Theater Memoir Brought To Broadway


Broadway trivia, courtesy of Broadway Trivia:

1. The lead of Funny Girl was originally offered to Carol Burnett, who turned it down.

2. Hair was the first Off Broadway musical to move to Broadway. #Broadwaytrivia

3. Two people who have played roles of the opposite gender won Tony Awards: Harvey Fierstein (Hairspray), Mary Martin (Peter Pan)

4. Away We Go, a musical based on the play Green Grow The Lilacs, changed its title to its most popular song, Oklahoma.


My review of The Cripple of Inishmaan: Daniel Radcliffe Back on Broadway

Joshua Henry, Sutton Foster and Colin Donnell

Joshua Henry, Sutton Foster and Colin Donnell

My review of Violet: Sutton Foster on a Bus to Beautiful



Jonathan Lethem’s novel The Fortress of Solitude will be a musical by Itamar Moses & Michael Friedman, at the Public Theater, from September to November.


My review of The Velocity of Autum: Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella Fight, Age


2014 Outer Critics Circle Nominations: Gentlemen’s Guide, Aladdin, Fun Home Lead. 

Hedwig & the Angry InchBelasco Theatre

My review of Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Neil Patrick Harris Rules, and Rocks, and Licks


Rude Mechs in Stop Hitting Yourself

Rude Mechs in Stop Hitting Yourself

The most prolific playwright in New York City this season — Kirk Lynn – lives in Texas.


Sex, Death, Marriage, Greed and Football: The Plays of Kirk Lynn


Shakespeare at 450

He isn’t personally eligible for #TonyAwards, but his plays have earned 71 nominations & 9 Tonys.

The first Shakespeare performed in NYC was King Richard III in 1750. The latest on Broadway was Macbeth, in Jan.

Boys from Syracuse, Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, Two Gentleman of Verona, The Lion King: What do these musicals have in common?

Ran, 10 Things I Hate About You, O, She’s The Man, Deliver Us From Eva, Forbidden Planet. What do these movies have in common

Drama League 2014 Nominations 

Larry Pine and Patrick Page

Larry Pine and Patrick Page

My review of Casa Valentina: Straight Men in Dresses on Broadway


James Earl Jones will star in revival of Moss Hart-Kaufman 1936 comedy “You Can’t Take It With You,” starting in August.

More than 20 Broadway shows will perform in #StarsinTheAlley Shubert Alley, Wed May 21, 11am-12:30 pm rain or shine.

Brian Stokes Mitchell,John Glover join Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater in Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare in the Park June 3-July 6


Time Mag’s 100 Most Influential People include Diane Paulus, and Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

To director Diane Paulus, writes Audra McDonald, “nothing is sacred and everything is sacred… she’s willing to try anything.”


Cabaret Willkommen

My review of Cabaret: Second Cumming on Broadway


2014 Drama Desk Awards Nominations



Shakespeare deniers are not just harmless; their contempt for scholarship is toxic, argues Fintan O’Toole.



Hollywood beckons to characters on Broadway shows The Cripple of Inishmaan, Of Mice and Men, Violet, and Act One.


My review of Bullets Over Broadway: Woody Allen’s Contempt for Theater


Signature Theater is the first-ever New York City theater to win the Regional Tony Awards.

NBC has competition: Fox says it will broadcast a 3-hour live version of “Grease” with (unnamed) “young ensemble cast”



Complete Tony nominations, with links to my reviews.

9 am: Estelle Parsons Tony- nominated for The Velocity of Autumn. 4 pm: Show announces closing Sunday.

April 30

Leslie Odomjr joins Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo in Jonathan Larsen’s tick,tick..BOOM June 25-28 Encores! Off-Center.

New “special guest stars” After Midnight:

Patti LaBelle, June 10 – 29

Gladys Knight July 8 – Aug 3

Natalie Cole (making her Broadway debut August 5 – 31


May 1, 2014

Tony Snubs, Pulitzer Flubs, Theater Award Excitement.



Back on Broadway in September: Matthew Broderick as nervous playwright,Nathan Lane as backbiting pal in Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play

Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale

Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale

What a shame:  The Bridges of Madison County will close May 18 after just 137 performances.

Randy Harrison has joined the cast of Atomic, about the creation of the atomic bomb, June 26-Aug 16 Theater Row.

Congratulations to musical theater creators Nathan Tysen and Arthur Perlman for their $100,000 Kleban Prize

April 2014 Quiz

April 2014 Theater Quiz


May openings

Broadway Responds to Russia’s ‘Gay Propaganda’ Ban

Andrew Rannells in Russia Tea Room, one of dozens of Broadway stars appearing in the video entitled "Russian Broadway Shut Down - Government Deems All Theatre Homosexual Propaganda"

Andrew Rannells in the Russian Tea Room. He is one of dozens of Broadway stars appearing in the satirical video entitled “Russian Broadway Shut Down – Government Deems All Theatre Homosexual Propaganda”

Broadway responds satirically to official LGBT discrimination in Russia, and to a specific Russian law, enacted in June, 2013, punishing citizens “who disseminate information aimed at minors ‘directed at forming nontraditional sexual setup’ or which may cause a ‘distorted understanding’ that gay and heterosexual relations are ‘socially equivalent,'” according to an account by news wire service AFP.

The video, entitled “Russian Broadway Shut Down – Government Deems All Theatre Homosexual Propaganda,”  was created by John Walton West and composed by Jason Michael Snow.

Among those in the video:

Michael Urie, Andrew Rannells, Harvey Fierstein, Roger Rees, Laura Osnes, Joanna Gleason, Analeigh Ashford, Andy Karl, Santino Fontana, Andrea McArdle, Stephen Schwartz, Eric Anderson, Ann Harada, Michael Cerveris, Laura Benanti, Stephanie J. Block (these last two as lesbian cosmonauts!), Sierra Boggess, Leslie Kritzer, John Bolton, Jackie Hoffman, Lena Rocker Hall, Jeremy Jordan and Jonathan Groff (these last two as gay Olympian lovers!)


Cinderella Review: Rodgers and Hammerstein on Broadway

Cinderella on Broadway starring Santino Fontana and Laura OsnesIn the first-ever Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” there is a big clock in the ballroom that speeds from 8 to midnight as Cinderella dances with Prince Charming, to indicate in shorthand the passage of time until the moment she must flee. I couldn’t help thinking: Why can’t the whole show be at this pace?

Now, nearly everything argues against this reaction:

*William Ivey Long’s costumes are gorgeous and even clever (Cinderella’s peasant garb turns into a sparkling ballgown instantaneously before our eyes), complemented by an enchanting (forest) set design by Anna Louizo

*The performers are all wonderful – especially a stunning Laura Osnes as “Ella” and a, well, charming Santino Fontana as Prince “Topher.” (i.e. Cinderella and Prince Charming.) But I’m also hoping that Anne Harada’s comic performance as an evil stepsister will convince the producers of “Smash” to stop her criminal underuse in that series.

*Josh Rhodes has created some exciting choreography, especially a dance sequence where the prince’s men try to find the fleeing Cinderella in the forest, and the footmen turn back into a fox and a raccoon (changed from two mice in the version of the fairy tale with which I am familiar.)

*Above all, there are 17 songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, almost a third of which have been added since the original 1957 television broadcast that starred Julie Andrews. They include the terrific tune, “A Lovely Night,” and some sweetly inventive lyrics by Hammerstein.

Cinderella2But long before its two and a half hours run out, it is clear that all that is right and appealing about this “Cinderella” cannot completely make up for what is wrong — the new script by Douglas Carter Beane.

Taken individually, most of Beane’s changes and additions shouldn’t undermine the story, at least in theory. The prince is well-meaning, even heroic – we first see him outwitting and conquering a tree-like monster. But he is also naïve and insecure (He sings “Me, Who Am I?” a cast-off from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Me and Juliet.”), and is easily manipulated by his villainous counsel, the Lord Protector Sebastian (Peter Bartlett)

Laura Osnes as Cinderella

Laura Osnes as Cinderella

One of Cinderella’s stepsisters, Gabrielle (Marla Mindelle) far from being ugly or mean-spirited, is good-hearted, and in love with the town rabble-rouser named Jean-Michel (Greg Hildreth), who wants to tell the prince that the people of the kingdom are impoverished, and treated unfairly.  But the evil stepmother Madame (Harriet Harris) keeps her daughter away from Jean-Michel. She and Sebastian have cooked up a plot to marry Gabrielle off to the prince.  Sebastian comes up with the idea of a ball for the prince, presumably to put their plan into action, and also in order to distract the prince from the dissent in his kingdom.

In this telling of the fairy tale, Ella has a political motive for going to the ball; she wants to help Jean-Michel alert the prince to what’s really happening to the people in his kingdom.

We first see Cinderella’s fairy godmother (Victoria Clark) as an insane street person named Crazy Marie, to whom Ella had done a kindness….

And so on.  The problem with the new material is not that it complicates “Cinderella” but that it doesn’t add up to a coherent whole.

Too much is repetitive: How many times can Cinderella change magically from rags-to-rich-ballgown before it loses its magic? Why is there both a ballroom and a banquet? Why must the Fairy Godmother fly in the air more than once?

It’s fine to put in jokes, but Beane’s are mostly flat: “Why  is  there  a  pumpkin   on  the  table? It makes no design sense,” Madame (the stepmother) shrieks at Cinderella the morning after the carriage has been turned back into a pumpkin. In general, the production seems uncertain of what tone to take.

The script doesn’t completely kill the magic. But for all of the wondrous aspects to this stage adaptation, I might hesitate to bring a child who doesn’t yet know the story of Cinderella; I might not want the strained and muddled  storyline to be their introduction to the tale.


At Broadway Theater

Music  by  Richard  Rodgers, lyrics  by  Oscar  Hammerstein  II , new book  by  Douglas  Carter  Beane . (Original  book  by  Oscar  Hammerstein  II)

Mark Brokaw (Direction)
Josh Rhodes (Choreography)
Anna Louizos (Set Design)
William Ivey Long (Costume Design)
Ken Posner (Lighting Design)
Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design)
David Chase (Music Adaptation, Supervision and Arrangements)
Andy Einhorn (Music Director, Conductor)

Cast: Laura Osnes in the title role; Santino Fontana as the Prince; Victoria Clark as Marie, the fairy godmother; Harriet Harris as Madame, Cinderella’s stepmother; Ann Harada as stepsister Charlotte; Marla Mindelle as stepsister Gabrielle; Peter Bartlett as Sebastian, Prince Topher’s mentor and Lord Chancellor; Greg Hildreth as the rebel Jean-Michel; and Phumzile Sojola as Lord Pinkleton.  Jill Abramovitz, Kristine Bendul, Drew Franklin, Heidi Giberson, Stephanie Gibson, Shonica Gooden, Kendal Hartse, Robert Hartwell, Laura Irion, Adam Jepsen, Andy Jones, Andy Mills, Linda Mugleston, Alessa Neeck, Peter Nelson, Nick Spangler, Kirstin Tucker, Cody Williams, Branch Woodman, and Kevin Worley

ticket prices: Pricing: $45 – $137 Buy tickets

Running time: two and a half hours including one 15-minute intermission