Belfast Telegraph

After Oscars La La Land mistake - Northern Ireland personalities tell of their on-stage mishaps

Lights, camera... distraction: More mishaps on stage

Following the famous gaffe at Sunday night's Oscars when the award for the Best Picture was wrongly announced as La La Land rather than Moonlight, Kerry McKittrick talks to some well-known personalities here about embarrassing on-stage mishaps.

It was nearly a catastrophe on Sunday evening at the world's most-watched awards ceremony when the production team of La La Land took to the stage to celebrate winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

As the jubilant cast and crew of the modern musical which has taken cinemas by storm walked on to the stage, just seconds later it was discovered that they hadn't won at all.

And there were red faces all round when it was revealed that Moonlight had scooped the gong instead.

The monumental gaffe made world news with images beamed all over the globe of veteran actor Warren Beatty looking shocked and silent as the drama unfolded at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

And while the producers of La La Land were gracious in defeat, calling the Moonlight team up on stage and insisting on presenting them with the Oscar that had just been snatched so cruelly away from them, the ensuing confusion was hugely embarrassing for the Academy Awards organisers.

The error was blamed on a mix-up of envelopes backstage, but it is one moment which is set to go down in Oscar night history.

Even for a supposedly well-oiled machine like the Academy Awards - not everything was alright on the night.

‘I had to stop the show and ask for more light’

Pamela Ballantine (58), lives in Belfast and is the host of UTV Life on Friday evenings. She says:

Having presented all sorts of awards shows, I know only too well that things can go wrong — all the time.

At a run-through for an event once, I asked what the lighting would be like during the show.

They assured me it would be the same as the rehearsal — but that wasn’t the case.

In fact it was coloured, disco lighting and every time it stopped the stage was plunged into darkness, meaning I couldn’t read my script.

Eventually I had to stop the show and ask for the lights to be swung round so I could see what I was doing.

On another occasion the sponsor of an awards dinner came up to make his speech with his glasses and notes.

That was all fine until he went back to his seat and accidentally lifted my script, too.

When I asked for it back he said he didn’t have it — I had to threaten to go down to retrieve it.

These things happen all the time, though, and the only thing you can do about it is laugh it off.”

‘A woman started a row during my act’

Actress Caroline Curran (33) is best-known for her role as Maggie Muff in the play 50 Shades of Red, White and Blue. She lives in Belfast with her fiance, Christopher. She says:

The worst thing that happened to me was when a fight broke out in one of the theatres where I was performing Dirty Dancing in the Shebeen.

There was a group of women who had been drinking before the show, and during the  performance one woman went for another — glasses were thrown and everything.

It was at five o’clock in the afternoon on a Sunday and it had kicked off when some ladies behind had asked them to keep the noise down.

I heard some choice words being used so I had to stop the show and call for security — we could even hear them down the corridor after they had been removed.

They were near the front so I could hear it all happening.

No-one knew what to do so I just make a joke and carried on.

There have been all sorts of incidents when I’ve been on stage — people have had to be removed, or been sick or thrown things — but that was the only time I’ve ever had to actually stop the show.

It was the longest five minutes of my life.”

‘A magic trick went wrong at the panto’

Actor and playwright Dan Gordon (49) lives in Belfast with his wife Kathy and their daughters Sarah (26), Hannah (23) and Martha (17). He says:

I hate magic tricks in a show — especially ones that involve spikes. One year in panto I had to put actress Bernadette Brown in a box and then pull a lever that would appear to plunge spikes through her. There is a real set of spikes to show the audience at the beginning of the trick and a special lever to stop them.

However I was playing the dame that night and my dress caught on the safety lever.

Fortunately I always do magic tricks slowly and was able to react quickly enough to protect the actress. I was so shocked that I had nearly killed someone. Because of that incident I refuse to do anything involving spikes again.

On another occasion I was hit on the forehead with a Malteaser, when I was playing Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It was fired by kid from a secondary school and when it happened I just stop and stared at him.

Everyone could see who I was looking at and he shrank back into his seat. The next day I got a letter of apology.”

‘The falling speaker just missed my head’

Actress Kerri Quinn (31) lives in Belfast with her partner Paddy McBride and their daughter Libby (2). She is currently on tour with the Lyric Theatre’s production of Educating Rita. She says:

All sorts of things can happen when you’re on stage but a lot of the time it’s audience members’ phones going off.

Just recently, during a performance of Educating Rita at the Lyric Theatre, someone’s mobile rang and the person actually answered it.

I didn’t tell them off — but just stopped in the middle of the stage.

One of the stewards went over and dealt with it, but it’s an ever-increasing problem in the theatre these days.

There are all sorts of technical difficulties that can happen too — people miss lighting or sound cues.

Again during Educating Rita there was an incident when I went through a door that had a speaker above it so you could hear what was happening backstage.

As I went onto the stage, the door behind me closed a bit too hard.

All I heard was the audience gasp and a big thud behind me — the speaker had fallen down and missed my head by about half an inch. I just carried on — that is just  what you do in showbusiness.”

‘A drunk man tried to join in with our fight’

Conor Grimes (43) is one half of comedy duo Grimes & McKee. He is married to Joanne and has three children, Ronan (12), Lorcan (10) and Noah (7). He lives in Co Tyrone. He says:

While performing at a show called Whistle In The Dark in the old Lyric Theatre building, there was a drunk man in the audience who would shout out sporadically at the stage.

After the interval when we went back on stage he appeared to have fallen asleep, so security were happy to leave him.

We carried on with the play and there was a big fight scene at the end.

Of course that was the moment when the drunk man woke up and thought it was real, and as the stage in the old theatre was very low, he tried to join in.

Thankfully someone grabbed him and stopped him getting on to the stage during the fight scene.

A security guard came to remove him but as he did I put my hand out and completely dislocated my finger in the collision.

I actually popped it back in there and then as the mock fight carried on.

A hospital appointment the next day led to a year of physiotherapy and to this day my finger is still not right.

It was, without doubt, the worst thing that’s happened to me on stage.”

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