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Have You Ever Choked During a Live Performance?

 "I was thrilled after receiving the leading role in our high school's one-act play. In fact, so excited that during a performance, I jumped ahead two pages to my monologue without even listening to my fellow cast members. In the dressing room after curtain call, I met with a humbling consequence. My director said, 'This is the risk of live theater. You only have one take.  It's more than just you out there. You have to pay attention!' It's truly embarrassing when you get all wrapped up in yourself. Now I pay attention and stay in the moment!"

Stefany Northcutt, Los Angeles

 "Years ago in Boston, I played the sergeant in Split Second. My character questions an officer about killing a handcuffed suspect. The lines in that scene are similar. One night I suddenly blanked and made up a question. When I remembered my line, I delivered it and waited for the other actor to answer no. But he said yes, which would admit guilt and end the play in the second scene! I improvised, 'So you admit it?!' So he improvised, 'No, I was confused by the intense questioning!' We recovered. But you should have seen the looks in our eyes!"

                                         —Wil Bowers, Los Angeles

 "I knew I couldn't sing those words, mess up the linear thread, and screw up my fellow thespians, so I just stood there. It felt like 10 minutes. The orchestra played my intro music, paused, and played again. Finally, I heard another actor artfully whisper my line to me. Finding my footing, I continued. It was terrifying! I was lucky to have castmates who helped when I needed it."

Cami J. Kidder, Los Angeles

 "While playing the female lead in Dear Brutus, in an ethereal dream scene I walk through the forest and come upon a young girl and my husband. The young girl is supposed to touch my arm, the cue for my next line. I'm waiting, waiting, but no touch. Suddenly, thrown off, I look at the male lead for help. I'm looking at him; he's looking back at me. Nothing! Finally, I just skip ahead, bypassing some valuable exposition. It turns out it was my line! The young girl insists she cued me. Maybe she did. I was just glad it was over!"

Natasha K. Rezhenkov, Portland, Ore.

 "In 2001, I was one of the celebrity guest presenters at this kids awards show in Anaheim, Calif. As I got up to the podium, I realized that my eyesight wasn't that good, because I could barely read the teleprompter. I panicked! Immediately my nerves took over. My left leg started shaking uncontrollably. It was awful. Somehow I managed to finally stumble through the dialogue. I improvised quite a bit! It's a good thing for me that the podium was blocking my left leg, which was involuntarily doing the Achy Breaky!"

Danso Gordon, Los Angeles

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