Broadway COVID Emergency: Actor Knocked Out by Virus, Playwright Steps in and Takes Over Role
What to do when COVID comes for a Broadway cast right before it’s curtain up?
Last night on Broadway the new, highly praised play “Thoughts of a Colored Man” the show had to go on: the audience got a surprise when Keenan Scott, the playwright, appeared on stage in place of the leading cast member, pressed into service minutes before the curtain went up.
What happened? A cast member tested positive for COVID-19 and two non-COVID related illnesses had already knocked down others in the cast. Three actors were suddenly out, and only two trained understudies were standing by.
And the audience was already seated, paid their money, and expected to see a Broadway show.
Some other shows in the last week have actually dismissed the audience from their seats when COVID was discovered lurking backstage. But this group wouldn’t let that happen!
Scott asked producer Brian Moreland if he could go on in the role of “Wisdom,” usually played by Jerome Preston Bates. Was that wise? Moreland figured, why not, who knows the play better? Scott performed the role script-in-hand — and one plus, he didn’t ad lib! (The playwright never likes it if the actors go “off book.”)
It’s a theater tradition, you know. Shakespeare used to go on as Lady Macbeth all the time when she couldn’t get the damn spot out. (No, just kidding, folks.)
Producer Moreland said afterwards, “It was a thrilling night for a Broadway audience to experience our play. Keenan Scott II is a bold new voice for now, and last night he exhibited the power and resilience of everyone who makes up the Broadway community.”
Scott is expected to continue playing the role at least through the holiday weekend.