New York: Rarely does a standby get the call to take over for a headliner, even less so when the headliner is injured. That is what happened to Shoshana Bean on January 8th when Wicked’s Idina Menzel was injured at the end of the musical and unable to go on. Bean got the call.
The show was stopped and Bean got in makeup and costume and finished the show.
“I’m a little bit numb,” Bean told The Journal News “In the middle of it, it was kind of ‘What is happening? This is awful.'”
“Because they’re such crazy fans they could have easily been like ‘We hate you’ and ‘We want our money back.’ But they were so excited to be there to see the history in the making and a little bit of the passing of the torch.”
It was lucky that Bean was still in the building when the accident occurred.
“I usually leave. Understudies are allowed to be within five blocks of the theater during the show and I usually leave somewhere in the middle of the second act because at that point I always figured, ‘If anything happened, what are they going to do? Put me in makeup and put me on stage? It’s the end of the show.’ ”
Bean was in an upstairs rehearsal room, preparing for Tuesday when she would officially take over the headlining job from Menzel, when one of the stage managers came running up and said “I think they just stopped the show.
“We said, ‘Shut up!’ ”
They ran downstairs to find everyone “huddled in the wings silent. Hands over their mouths, crying in disbelief. (Menzel) is such a rock. She’s so tough. She’s so strong. She hardly ever missed a show. She certainly never got hurt and if and when she did she’d just muscle through. For that to happen with two shows left, two minutes left, it was the last thing on my mind.”
“I’m watching this unfold,” Bean said. “At one point, when she was on the stretcher, they’re like ‘Get Shoshona in makeup’ and I’m like, ‘You’re kidding, right?’ and they’re like, ‘No. Go. Go. Go.’ ”
The transformation from stunned standby to green witch took all of seven minutes. She was in hair and makeup “and I was down under (the stage) ready to come up.”
“I was scared to death. It just felt so weird to continue, to go on after what happened. But we went on and the audience was great. We sort of needed to. Kind of the old ridiculous, obnoxious saying that it has to go on.”
Bean finished the matinee and was thought Menzel would be back for the evening show.
“I really thought ‘Surely, she probably just bruised some ribs, she’ll be in, she’ll muscle through. It’s her last show. She’s a toughy. She’ll be there.’ ”
Menzel didn’t return until the next day, when, before the matinee, producers asked Bean if she would mind if Menzel could appear in the final scene. “I was like, ‘Please! Are you kidding?’ ”
As for taking over the role, Bean says she has it covered.
“After this weekend, I can do anything. I’ve already been embraced by the audience in the worst possible situation. … They really didn’t come to see me this weekend. They came to see … people spent thousands of dollars on tickets to see this legendary last weekend of this legendary creation of this role. For them to have had to see me and as supportive and loving as that whole situation was. Tuesday night is just… Nothing can top what happened this weekend. I’ve already had my opening.”