It’s a nightmare scene for any stage director, but with less than an hour before the curtain was supposed to rise on opening night, one of the actors in the Alban Arts Center’s production of the jukebox musical “Rock of Ages” bowed out.
“They couldn’t continue,” director Marlette Carter said. “I don’t precisely know why and couldn’t discuss it, for privacy.”
“Rock of Ages” had lost its villain, Hertz Klineman, a business developer who sets in motion much of the musical’s plot.
“It wasn’t someone we could do without,” Carter said. “The show must go on.”
With only minutes to go before the doors to the theater opened, Carter had to work out a solution. Somebody had to step into the role.
Carter said she looked at her assistant director, Natasha Allen, and said, “It’s either you or me.”
But Allen was also stage manager and helping with wardrobe.
“And when you’re the director, once the show begins, you’ve really got nothing to do,” Carter said.
Grabbing an extra costume and the wig last used by Tim Mace as “Miss Trunchbull” in the Alban’s production of “Matilda,” Carter stepped into the role.
“Kennie Bass was great. He collated a script from my director’s book and put it on a clipboard for me and the entire cast really came together,” the director said.
It was a lot of stress and anxiety, but the show went on.
Carter said her cast did better than just muddle through “Rock of Ages,” and delivered the performance they’d spent months working for.
They gave a good show, she said.
And some audience members paid no mind to the clipboard in her hands, mistaking it for a prop, which would fit in with a developer making plans to level buildings.
With the second weekend looming, nothing much has changed with “Rock of Ages” at the Alban. Carter has the cast she has and will also be returning to the stage.
She’s OK with it.
“There’s just no way in the world to bring somebody else in,” she said. “I’ve been watching it for two months, so I at least know how to move.”