The Facebook world lit up on Saturday with news of what happened in and around the Empire Theatre. To say it was eventful is an understatement. To be brief(ish), a patron attending the matinee performance of “The Sound of Music” had a serious wound on her foot that she was unaware of, causing a pool of blood in the lobby and the first call of the day for an ambulance. During the matinee, power went out in the whole neighborhood, causing a blackout in the theater. Both Phil Whiteway and Chase Kniffen were on hand to help stall for around 20 minutes until power was restored. During that time, both audience and performers shared a magical experience as Phil leads everyone in a sing-a-long version of “Edelweiss” (alertly captured on video by Jonathan Perez).
Outside of the theater, things were not so magical as an SUV and a VCU police car collided little more than a block away apparently because of traffic lights not being operational. The vehicles plowed into the building at the corner of Marshall and Adams, which then partially collapsed (luckily, none of the passengers was apparently seriously hurt). This accident caused traffic in the area to be tied up for the next several hours.
After weathering the matinee, all seemed to be restored to normal but there was additional excitement at the end of the evening performance when a pregnant patron started going into labor at the top of the Empire Theatre stairs. She was eventually helped to the bottom of the stairs and made comfortable until the second ambulance of the day could come by the theater.
I was only personally around for the last circumstance so would take offense (just kidding) if anyone considers my attendance at previously memorable performances a curse of some kind. I did talk to several cast members who said it was about the weirdest day in the theater that they can remember. As per “The World According to Garp,” I hope this means that the SOM production has had its share of craziness for one run and that that’ll be it. But you never know…
I hope the benefit for Dogwood Dell at the Byrd on Sunday, the "A Thorn Between Two Roses" production, and the James Dean show at Sycamore Rouge all went off without any similar mishaps!