Embarrassing On Stage Moments

Photo Courtesy Aditya Chinchure on Unsplash.

Everyone in the business of live performing has embarrassing on stage stories, from Broadway legends to Ariana Grande to kids in local dance recitals. We asked our audience to share their most embarrassing on stage moments with us. From costume calamities to total wipeouts, your answers had us both cringing and crying with laughter. We’ll save our fellow theatre friends the further embarrassment of divulging their identities, but you know who you are.

“Once I fell doing choreography and fell flat on my back, legs splayed to the audience.”

Have you tripped over your own feet on stage or lost your balance during a live performance? Missteps are a common occurrence on stage, especially when you’re climbing over set pieces or trying to remember choreography. But unless you’re starring as Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” a spread eagle to the audience is any performer’s worst nightmare.

“My pants fell down during a tap dance but luckily I had another costume underneath.”

Wardrobe malfunctions are one of the most common culprits of embarrassing on stage moments. From split plants to Janet Jackson Super Bowl XXXVIII-level debacles, a lot can go wrong when it comes to costumes. An emergency layer under costumes provides live performers with peace of mind that no matter what happens, no one will be receiving THAT kind of show.

Photo Courtesy of Suday Ouyang on Unsplash

“I passed out onstage once.”

While most on stage mishaps are simply comical, this unpleasant moment is downright scary. Whether due to exhaustion, illness or any combination of factors, passing out on stage is frighteningly common for live performers.

“I went to back flip over a cart, instead the cart fell over too and landed on my head.”

As mentioned, some embarrassing moments can be scary and dangerous. We laughed at this one after the fact, knowing this performer was okay, but during the live show several audience and cast members were surely concerned for the performer’s safety. 

Embarrassing moments are stressful, but they’re especially inconvenient when they happen on stage in front of a live audience. The saying “the show must go on” plays in every performer’s head when something goes wrong on stage. No matter what unfortunate on stage moments you’ve encountered, hopefully you can find comfort knowing you’re not alone. 

What’s in the Bag?

What we carry in our bags every day reveals a lot about us as people. For performers, a day may involve several back-to-back shows or rushing to the theatre after getting off from another gig. Here are some can’t-leave-home-without-it items that help live performers prepare for a show.

Beat the Heat

It’s no secret that it can get a little toasty onstage under those bright lights. Keeping a towel handy is a great way to dab off between scenes. Consider throwing an extra stick of deodorant and some essential oil wet wipes in your bag or keep them at your dressing room station. Your castmates will thank you!

Emergency Fuel

Most performers are particular about what they eat on show day. Dancers worry about being weighed down while singers need to keep their throats open. Quick, mess-free snacks like dry nuts, pretzels, and  individual tubes of peanut butter can remedy those hunger pains without upsetting your stomach or the costume mistress.

After the Show

If you plan on going out for cocktails after curtain call, a fresh pair of clothes are a must. Unless you’re going to the stage door dive bar, you’ll probably want to look, feel and smell fresh for your post-show plans. It doesn’t just stop with your outfit, though. Undo the ozone-destroying amounts of Aquanet used to secure that stage hair with the help of a travel-sized dry shampoo and hairbrush. If you don’t have time or energy to redo your stage make-up, a good trick is to use a makeup wipe to remove at least one feature of your show face—think eyes, lips, etc.

Comfort Items

After a long tech week of late nights in the theatre, it’s unlikely you’ll feel 100% on show day. Simple comforts like your warmest pair of fuzzy socks or a playlist of your favorite jams can work wonders for your vibe in the dressing room. Ibuprofen is always a good item to have nearby to ease minor aches and pains. If you have a leading speaking or singing role, sugar-free cough drops can easily be kept backstage.

Performers are particular about lots of different show day must-haves. Many practical items can help a performer feel more prepared and comfortable onstage. What item is always in your bag on performance day?