My Most Memorable Night In The Theatre
~ Michael for The Telegraph - 14/03/2011 ~
I tell you what, the night that Prince Charles and Camilla came to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a memorable one. The car went into reverse instead of forward, and this huge piece of scenery, a huge boat, fell backwards and nearly flattened a stage hand, smashing up the stage. We had to cancel the show. Afterwards we went to the Royal Retiring Room and had a drink with Charles and Camilla instead of doing the rest of the show.
One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on stage was in Phantom of the Opera. It was a final lair scene, which is where Christine pulls the mask off the Phantom and reveals him. She pulled off his mask and as she did it, he put up his arm and his cufflink got caught in her wig. So as she revealed his hideous deformed face, he pulled off her wig and revealed her bald cap and the mic packs and all the wires. She looked worse than the Phantom! It was the final moment of the show, y’know, so what do you do? Other than laugh hysterically.
I was sharing a house with Patti LuPone when we were in Phantom. She’d split up with her boyfriend long distance, and we’d sat up all night as I tried to cheer her up and she got through a bottle of vodka. She was absolutely heartbroken. And when we got to the show, she went on and she sang I Dreamed A Dream and I’ve never heard anything so – it stopped the show completely. Everybody stopped backstage and listened. She just ripped her heart out onstage.
Michael Ball is co-host of the 2011 Olivier Awards at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane