Editor’s Note: “Stage Write/Stage Wrong” is a continuing series by Madison Magazine theater reviewer Aaron R. Conklin about those occasions when live performances don’t go entirely according to the stage directions. Most actors, directors and designers have the grace and style to appreciate and/or survive dropped lines, stumbles and misbehaving props, but it's the confident ones who are willing to relive and share those experiences with us.
Gilbert Domally's a good match for the character he’ll be playing in Children’s Theater of Madison’s production of “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure.” Like Marty the Zebra, Domally’s got a quick wit and an outgoing disposition.
He’s also experienced more than a few adventures during his career. None of them involve breaking out of an urban zoo and cavorting with a tribe of lemurs—at least not outside the confines of the show—but he does have some good acting stories to share. He took a few minutes out of rehearsal to share them with us.
Domally was playing Marty in a Chicago-based musical production of “Madagascar” when disaster nearly struck. The show’s choreographer had introduced a new set of dance moves for the cast to integrate into the show—moves with lots of extra spins and jumps. Like an NFL running back who cuts to avoid a defender, Domally spun out of a move … and heard a sickening pop in his leg.
“I was sure something had happened to my knee,” Domally recalls. He was able to finish the routine, but limped offstage fearing the worst—a significant ligament tear that might have kept him from the theater for months.
Luckily, Domally’s worst fears weren’t realized. He had only strained his thigh, and he was able to return to full dance action shortly thereafter.
“We won’t be doing any new dance moves in the Madison production,” he chuckles.
Some lines are sure-fire crowd pleasers, to the point where actors actually take advantage of the pause during which the audience guffaws and claps. Other times, those moments arrive unexpectedly, which just adds to the magic.
A few years back, Domally played Seaweed in the musical “Hairspray," a production at Chicago’s Paramount Theater. Near the end of the scene in which Seaweed and Penny rush off to try to find the school nurse for Tracy Turnblad (who has just fainted), Seaweed comes back and pulls what he’s found out of his pocket: “Band Aids and Q-Tips! And a rubber. No, wait. I guess that’s mine.”
A funny line, to be sure, but this night put the audience in stitches. Nobody could stop laughing.
“I certainly didn’t expect that level of reaction,” Domally says. “But it was great to have a line go over like that.”
CTM’s production of “Madgascar: A musical Adventure” runs through this weekend at the Overture Center Playhouse. For ticket information, click here.
Aaron R. Conklin writes his award-winning coverage of the Madison-area theater scene for madisonmagazine.com.