Project Hotel Key – Mocksville, North Carolina

Quality Inn

“The show must go on” is one of those phrases that every performer knows and references regularly. No matter how you feel on any particular day, you owe it to your paying audience to go out on that stage and given them a show. However, there are some circumstances I don’t think any performer anticipates when considering that cliche phrase. On March 27th, “the show must go on” became all too real for me.

It started with breakfast. We were crunched for time with a big drive ahead of us, so we stopped in a gas station to grab something quick and easy. I went with my usual push-button instant cappuccino to drink, but decided to branch out on my food choice with a fiesta chicken taquito. I’m not typically one to trust gas stations to cook anything, but I was exhausted this particular morning and was not in my right mind. I savored my cappuccino, as I do nearly every morning, and downed the taquito quickly before laying down to a nice nap on the bus, Alicia Keys serenading me through my noise-canceling headphones.

Several hours later, a loud rumbling noise jolted me out of my reverie. Was it thunder? No. Were we driving on gravel? No. Did a horde of angry gorillas fall from the sky? Definitely not. The epicenter of this earth-shaking rumble was my own stomach. I sat in agony in my bus seat until we arrived at the venue, immediately running for the bathroom. In a matter of minutes, everything I’d eaten up to that point was out of my system, leaving me feeling feverish and weak. With six hours until curtain and no understudy, I felt a rush of acid-tongued panic surge through my bones, adding further nausea to my already miserable condition.

“The show must go on” pulsed through my head like a mantra. I felt like I was standing at the edge of a cliff, preparing to run, with a flimsy string held in my hand – my mantra. All I knew was that I would be on stage at 7, whether I was ready for it or not. I had to find a way to make it happen.

After a few hours, several gatorades, many glasses of ginger ale, a roll of ginger snaps, three doses of anti-nausea medication, and a nap, the show was upon me. Emergency trash cans in place, we were as ready as we would ever be. I powered through each number like a zombie on speed. I don’t know if you’ve ever given speed to a zombie, but it’s not very effective. The minute I left the stage, every trace of a smile ran off my face and my feet lost all energy, moving around as if the floor was made of molasses. The entire show is a blur to me, but I survived. It may not have been my most brilliant performance, but it was certainly my bravest. As always, “the show must go on.”

QUESTION: Have you ever had to perform when ill? Tell me about it in the comments.

  1. 2nd night of Peter Pan I had the most awful stomach bug i could have ever imagined. After throwing up a total of 16 times (and not only throwing up…) I decided that I needed to go to urgent care. Since it was only 7am on a Saturday and I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, I made the decision to drive myself there. Once I arrived (and threw up on the sidewalk) the docs took one look at me and told me I wasn’t going on that night. I laughed and told them to do everything they could to get me well enough to go on. After 3 IVs of Phenergan, a steroid shot in the booty, 2 prescriptions written out to me, and India having to pick my drugged up self from urgent care, I was flying 30 feet above the audience’s heads by 7:30. Apparently while I was passed out at the docs office, they sent Kim Hickman to practice flying “just in case”. Granted, I don’t remember any of the show because I was so drugged, but it went on nonetheless. I’m glad you were able to make it, bro! Welcome to the pre-show vom club 🙂

  2. Oh wow. I’m so…honored.

    Summer, you are a major trooper. I can’t believe you drove yourself to the clinic after vomiting 16 times! We do the craziest things for what we love.

    I kind of wish I could have seen that performance, just so I could see your drugged up self flying all over the stage.

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