Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday Night Dental Drama

Posted by Kiff Vanden Heuvel (Dan in The Crowd You’re In With)

So, I've been working on reconstructing my teeth. I see Dr. Richard Hoffman in Lincoln Park. He's very good. My agent turned me on to him and I've never had a better dentist.

At any rate...

My lower-right set of teeth has a temporary crown—I guess it’s tooth number 13 (for those of you with dental schematics). It's been very comfortable, and we're making sure it holds before switching to the porcelain crown.

During tonight's show, around page 6 or 7, just after Tom and Karen have entered the back yard, I was enjoying a fistful of Ruffles, listening and engaged in the action at hand as I always am, preparing for my next line.

Suddenly I feel the equivalent of a joy buzzer shock my mouth where tooth number 13 should be.

Somewhere in my mouth, mixed in with the partially chewed potato chips is a temporary crown floating around.

Chips crunch and break apart. Temporary crowns do not. They shatter other dental work, teeth, gums and moments on stage.

I say my next line.

Now my mind is racing. I'm laughing and reacting to my scene partners on the outside, but inside my tongue is scanning my mouth like a guy who has lost his keys and is late for work.

I isolate the crown and stash it between my cheek and gum and wait for a moment when I can turn upstage and grab it out.

It seems like an eternity.

By page 15, the crown is in my pocket mixed in with my prop car keys (which come out of my pocket right before Windsong and I exit) and a random assortment of bottle caps. I spend the rest of my time on stage trying to forget about all of this. I do OK with it, but every time I take a sip of "beer,” the joy buzzer in my jaw goes off.

I found the crown and rinsed it off, got it back in place and settle down finally, once I get off stage.

The best part about all of this is that nobody knew. Not my fellow cast mates, not the director, not a member of the audience. It was own private wheel of pain. And it's satisfying to carry that burden and make it off stage with a story to tell.

Live theater, baby. Doesn’t get much better!


  1. Crazy. I have a similar crazy story. I got my first lead role my senior year in college by one of my professors. People said it was written specifically for me, but I can't really prove that. He didn't tell me that if it's true.

    Anyway, in this script, I'm on every single page for 120 pages, about two hours and fifteen minutes of story. Intermission is halfway through the show at about an hour, an hour and ten.

    I walk on for my opening line. Great, the audience loves me. Ten lines later, my hearing aid battery dies.

    I'm completely deaf on stage. And I've still got 55 minutes to go.

    Fortunately, my castmates and I had great synergy and intuition. I carried the whole show while completely deaf -- I knew their lines and mine, their cues and mine, their blocking and mine. No mistakes. It was probably the best performance we had.

    And the best part? Nobody knew. Like you and your crown, nobody noticed that I couldn't hear a damn thing.

    I think I'll always remember that. Live theatre! It doesn't get much better!

  2. Kiff Vanden HeuvelJune 4, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    Hey Brian,

    GREAT story! Thanks for sharing it! There's nothing like getting together with other actors and sitting around sharing war stories, rolling up sleeves and showing the scars from running into a prop piece that wasn't properly glow taped. The best part is always the final line of the story being, "But nobody knew..."

    Thanks again!


  3. I don't know how you guys do what you do! I couldn't imagine being on stage in front of an audience for two hours--much less with malfunctioning teeth and hearing aids! I give you all the credit in the world :-)