Craig . . . Duuude. Little emergency here. Can you maybe, um, come play Douglass for us? Huge part, yeah. And could you be ready for audiences in, oh, say, a week?
Wallace, whose track record includes roles on most of Washington’s major stages, was game, and with the blessing of “Mockingbird” director Aaron Posner he was on a plane the next day. To create at least a sliver of working time, Ford’s canceled four preview performances and postponed the formal opening of “Necessary Sacrifices” by a week. Script in hand, Wallace was onstage as Douglass six days later.
“It’s insane,” Wallace says by phone from Ford’s, briefly peeling himself away from line-learning at the end of last week.
Enormous changes at the last minute have been part of theater forever. Still, Washington stages have endured a spate of switchouts lately. The offstage drama in November alone:
●“The Sound of Music,” Olney Theatre Center. Monica Lijewski, cast as the Mother Abbess, falls offstage into the orchestra pit during rehearsal. (Lijewski was seriously injured and is still recovering; see the open Facebook page “Friends of Monica Lijewski.”) Channez McQuay, already in the cast as another nun, fills in.
●“You, Nero,” Arena Stage. Marc Vietor departs as Scribonius, the narrator of Amy Freed’s comedy about politics and art in ancient Rome. (The reason is not announced.) Four preview performances are canceled. Jeff McCarthy, who played the part at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, takes over.
●“Much Ado About Nothing,” Shakespeare Theatre Company. Veanne Cox leaves the leading role of Beatrice in rehearsals; “artistic differences” are cited. Ten days before performances start, Kathryn Meisle is brought on. The really lucky part: Meisle (pronounced MIZE-lee) just finished playing Beatrice at New Jersey’s Two River Theatre Company.
At least the New York-based Meisle had done the last-minute leap-in before. Once upon a time Meisle, who broke her foot last summer, was thrust into Paul Rudnik’s “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” taking the stage a mere 24 hours after being hired. She replaced Jenny Bacon, who had broken her foot.
Coincidentally, that very week, Christmas 1998, Bebe Neuwirth withdrew from the new Kander and Ebb musical “Over and Over” at Signature Theatre. Sherie Rene Scott, then at the beginning of a productive Broadway career — “Aida,” “The Little Mermaid,” etc. — was hired to take over.
Mark Ramont, currently directing “Next Fall” at the Round House Theatre, was working on an Upstate New York summer production of Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie” when his leading lady up and quit.