‘Break a leg’ came too true in pantomime

Ray Wood
Ray Wood

You’ve heard of the good luck expression ‘break a leg’ but maybe actors at a theatre will be cautious about saying it in the future.

At a performance in Henlow Theatre pantomime dame Ray Woods was told to break a leg before he went on stage – and he promptly did! Or his ankle at least.

The accident happened on the fifth night of Henlow Amateur Theatrical Society’s run of Babes in the Woods.

Ray, of Overlord Close in Shefford, took the incident in good humour, describing it as “absolutely hilarious.”

He said: “I’m supposed to come in on a scooter as Nurse Madonna Muppet and I’m supposed to fall off. But there was an almighty crack and my ankle broke.

“And I had to deliver my line ‘it will never be the same again!’”

The fall may have been caused by Ray, 68, having to walk in his dame’s costume of a dress and high heels.

The other actors were confused because they knew the dame was supposed to fall off the scooter and they were not sure if something had gone wrong at first.

But Ray told them to close the curtain and he was taken to Bedford Hospital, where he discovered that his ankle was broken in two places. He had to have nine pins put in to hold it in place.

Fortunately understudy Chris Proctor was able to stand in for the remainder of the show, which was delayed for around half an hour, and for the other two performances.

Chris has played the dame in previous years so he was able to step into the role without difficulty.

Ray, a retired engineer at RAF Henlow, is the chairman of the theatrical society and he led the rebuilding of the theatre at the turn of the millennium.

He said: “I was having a go at the director afterwards because he said ‘break a leg’ beforehand!”

Ray added: “I’m delighted with the service that I got at Bedford Hospital and the ambulance service. It was superb.”

Henlow Amateur Theatrical Society was supporting the Bedford branch of the Samaritans throughout its productions.

The group raised £408 from tickets sales on the first night and another £346 from the raffles over the seven night run. The branch has more than 100 volunteers and last year it had 30,000 contacts with members of the public through phone calls, texts and emails.