The Death Of A Broadway Stagehand Forced The Cancellation Of Last Night’s Performance Of ‘How To Succeed In Business . . .’


There was a death on Broadway last night and you might be surprised to learn that it did not happen at accident-prone Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. A stagehand reportedly succumbed to a drug overdose in a bathroom at the Al Hirschfeld Theater right before last night’s performance of the Daniel Radcliffe musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The start of the show was postponed a few times before Radcliffe and co-star John Laroquette came on stage to announce the cancelation of last night’s performance. It was only after the theater was cleared that it was revealed that the stagehand death was the cause of the cancelation.

The Wednesday night performance of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” on Broadway was canceled after a stagehand died from what the police said was a drug overdose he suffered backstage. The episode did not involve any safety issues or accidents related to the production, according to a person working on the musical and a theater industry executive familiar with what happened. The two people spoke on the condition of anonymity in deference to the show’s producers and the stagehands’ union. The theater industry executive said it was a “personal tragedy unrelated to the show.” “It was a stagehand who had done something terrible to himself,” the theater industry executive said. “Apparently it happened in a bathroom backstage, and it was very, very serious.” According to the police, the stagehand, a 29-year-old man, was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest backstage shortly before 8 p.m. He was rushed to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital nearby, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. A police spokesman said that there was no criminality suspected and that investigators believed the man died from an overdose. The stagehand’s name was withheld pending notification of the family, said a statement from a spokesman for the production. The stagehand was taken from the theater by ambulance while hundreds of audience members were still in their seats, said one of them, Suzanne Jewell, by telephone Wednesday night. A spokesman for the Broadway stagehands’ union declined to comment on Wednesday night … At about 9 p.m. the two stars of the show, Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette, stepped out on stage to address the audience, who were there to see what would have been the show’s 100th performance. Audience members said they could tell by Mr. Radcliffe’s and Mr. Larroquette’s tone that something grave had happened. “They said they debated it for a long time, and that there was a tragedy and they didn’t feel comfortable performing,” said one audience member, Barbara Germain. Ms. Jewell said they were both very emotional. “The two of them said they had mulled it over whether to go on with the show,” she said. “They apologized to everyone, but said it wouldn’t be fair to us because they would not have been able to give a good performance.” An audience member then audibly asked about what had happened backstage. According to Ms. Jewell, Mr. Radcliffe replied that it was “personal” and that they did not want to say more.

Wow … what a tragic loss. It is completely understandable that the show had to be cancelled … I cannot, for the life of me, imagine how anyone could just brush aside a death in order to sing and dance on stage in front of a sold out audience. Ugh … this is such sad news. Just say no to drugs, people. It’s just not worth it :(


  • wow that is hard! I understand that the show had to stop there is now way somebody can just ignore that and perform their best

  • kenn

    Well, so much for the show must go on. WWNCD?

  • David R.

    Awful situation, well-handled.

  • Jeremy

    Whatever happened to “The Show Must Go On!”?

    Was the stagehand essential to the production? Was everyone there close personal friends?

    I hope the audience was refunded their money.

  • canaussiegirl

    Geez @Jeremy. Someone died. Of course they canceled the show. And of course they refunded tickets.

    I suspect “the show must go on” was never intended to have such a literal translation.

    Way to be totally heartless.

  • Jeremy


    Sure it was sad for the stagehand’s family, but if someone dies at a business like a bank or restaurant, sure they take time to deal with it, but they don’t close down for the rest of the day.

    • Sarah

      I worked at a restaurant that closed for the day when a coworker died. Actually.

    • stagehand

      Because we take care of each other, many of us are close friends, many of us are neighbors or even live with each other. This is a tough business, not made any easier by people doing foolish things to themselves, but that doesn’t mean we’re heartless. The show goes on if something breaks, it goes on if somebody gets hurt or gets ill, but if one of your brothers dies there’s no way in hell anybody is watching a show that night.

  • rossy

    There are times when I’m left shaking my head & thinking, “How irresponsible can somebody be?” at a situation that shouldn’t have happened. Yes, I feel sorry for the guy’s family, but what the hell was he thinking? He had a job to do & decided to “take time out & use drugs” then died. It’s one thing if it’s an accident or sudden illness… It happens.

    Where was his responsibility to his co-workers, cast & audience to act professionally? Up his nose? I may sound cold, but having attended 3 separate & unnecessary funerals in the last year, I think I have some right to be bitter. 2 of those funerals were related – my friend’s husband & 7 year old daughter were killed by a drunk driver & Emily was left paralyzed, then she took her own life 2 months later. And the drunk driver got off – even though it was his THIRD offense!

  • BreakMyRevenge

    I totally and completley AGREE with Jeremy. Yes, this was a horrible tragedy, and a devastating loss to the families and friends of the stagehand. Not to mention the actors/actresses and other production members who knew this person, and it would have been hard to carry on for everyone involved. However, what about the people who are on the verge of suicide, who may be going through depression,and who feel like this musical, and broadway musicals in general, are giving them hope and the will to carry on? Obviously, they would have had to delay the production due to the police investigation and such, but could they not have resheduled the performance for later that night, and would this person not have wanted the show to go on in their memory to inspire recovering addicts who are givin strength and hope through these performances.

    @Trent, you said “I cannot, for the life of me, imagine how anyone could just brush aside a death in order to sing and dance on stage”

    I respect your opinion, but you have to remember broadway is not about just singing and dancing on stage. It’s about giving people the will to carry on through music while inspiring them with hope and strength. I can’t count how many people will tell you that broadway literally saved thier lives.

  • Ethel

    So much for the professionalism of IATSE and its highly-paid stagehands. Snorting coke in a backstage bathroom? Is that what they are paying you all that money to do, when hundreds of others would kill for your job?

    And you wonder about Spider Man, and all the accidents. Was the stagehand who was supposed to have secured that aerialist’s tether also high as a kite?

    IATSE should take a long hard look at itself and the kind of people who get placed on choice shows. Audiences are not paying the kind of money they are for Broadway entertainment to have anyone involved with the enterprise intoxicated after 8 pm.