Broadway's 'Bye Bye Birdie' stops mid-show, Bob Saget and Don Rickles to the rescue!

Oh, the joys of live theater. The final preview performance of the Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie was halted for about 20 minutes Wednesday night when the electronically controlled set failed to clear during a scene change. The curtain fell on the big-budget musical, which is slated to open Thursday night, and star John Stamos appeared in front of a lights-up auditorium to stall for time as technicians worked backstage. Stamos called out to fellow celebs in the audience, including comedian Don Rickles, who shouted out from his seat to rib the former Full House star to get a haircut. “Are they gonna fix it or is this going to be a weekend?” Mr. Warmth added.

Then Stamos cajoled his Full House costar, Bob Saget, who was seated in the row behind Rickles, to come on stage and help him fill the time. Saget cracked a few jokes, speaking through the mic rigged to Stamos’ forehead. “I’m really glad your crotch is not miked.”

Stamos’ Bye Bye Birdie costar Gina Gershon also came out, asking the duo to keep vamping (at one point, she reappeared with an old poster of Stamos from his teen idol days). “I saw Full House for the first time a few weeks ago at the dentist’s,” Gershon said. “What was that about?” Saget replied: “Oh, it’s basically just like Brokeback Mountain — but as a sitcom.” Saget also asked Gershon: “Gina, do something from Showgirls.” (The actress obliged with a quick feathering of her hands in front of her face.) The rubber-bodied comic actor Bill Irwin, who plays the uptight father in Birdie, also emerged to perform a little clowning with the dropped curtain.

After a roughly 20-minute delay, the show resumed — appropriately enough, to the production number “Put on a Happy Face” — and ran through to the curtain call without further incident.

“Accidents happen,” Saget told EW after the show. “He’s my brother,” the comic said of Stamos. “I’d do anything for him. And he’s certainly always been there for me.” And noting that he had to clamber rather awkwardly onto the stage, Saget quipped, “I think I threw my knee out.”

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Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • Terry

    Damn! I want to see THIS version. Keep Rickles and Saget for the whole run!

    • alek

      Let’s start a petition.

  • Keri

    This would have been fabulous– two shows for the price of one. I saw a preview of “A Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway when the audio went KAPOW and then out completely in the first act. They stopped the show for at least 20-30 minutes then too, but Diddy didn’t come out and rap for us or anything! (LOL)

    If anyone has ever seen the documentary “Moon Over Broadway”, chronicling the show “Moon Over Buffalo”– you’ll see a similar thing happen with THEIR set during a preview performance. And who is the best person ever at winging it and entertaining a crowd? Carol freakin’ Burnett! (She was in “Buffalo” and they sent her out to keep the crowd in their seats.) Just her in front of the curtain talking to the audience. It was awesome to see, even just on DVD.

    Anyway, long story— I hope “Birdie” gets extended and that they do a cast recording. I’d really like to get to see and hear this new version.

  • John

    Just put this one in the “why I love live theatre” pile.

  • Mat

    I was at the show and the delay was less than 20 minutes. The first act started at 8:05 and still ended at 9:20. For some reason – unknown to the audience – the intermission – which is supposed to be 15 minutes lasted 30 minutes. We were guessing the intermission was extended while they were working on the set. Mat

  • Alex

    This is why theatre is amazing!,

    p.s. I love Bill Irwin

  • jules

    When I saw SPAMALOT in previews in Chicago, there was a set problem, and Hank Azaria was sent out to vamp till they fixed it. He was FABULOUS. He did his Simpsons characters and even the Blue Raja from that awful superheroes movie (his superpower was farting). As for Bye Bye Birdie… Saw it last weekend. It was awful, I am sorry to say. John Stamos is cute as a button, but doesn’t really sing or dance. Ditto for Gina Gershon. And I adore Bill Irwin, but he is totally miscast (and downright weird) as the father. Paul Lynde, he is not.

  • theBigE

    A good friend of mine saw a preview showing of the musical “Big” (this was in Detroit about 15 years ago, I think.) They watched as one set came down from the fly space and crashed onto another set already on stage. No one was on stage, and apparently no one was hurt, but they waited a half hour, and got nothing from the cast like this!

  • Jean Genie

    Rickles still ROCKS!!

  • tim shanahan

    We were there and it was a great moment!

  • tom

    It’s a hit!!! Rickles/Saget version will run for years !

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