Heat has taken a toll on our theater actors this summer. During Shakespeare Dallas' run of Cyrano and As You Like It at Samuell Grand Park, lead actors Chris Hury and Joanna Schellenberg experienced symptoms of heatstroke, not just once but several times.
Even ice packs in their costumes couldn't keep their bods from overheating as they performed three hours of classical drama outdoors.
The latest to crumble under the high temps was Rachael Lindley, actress and artistic director at Richardson Theatre Centre. Playing the lead in Neil Simon's 1970 comedy The Gingerbread Lady, Lindley made it to intermission on opening night at the suburban playhouse last weekend. But that's as far as she got. Just after her last exit in a shaky first act, Lindley fainted backstage. An ambulance was called and the audience was sent home.
Later by email, Lindley apologized for the truncated opening night and explained that she was overheated and severely dehydrated after several long days of tech and dress rehearsals.
Also, it was discovered that the a/c in the dressing room was out of whack. Then being onstage under the hot lights took its toll.
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After several days of rest (the show was dark last weekend), Lindley's back and ready to reopen the show, which will go on as planned this weekend and continue for a few more weeks. It's one of Simon's quieter comedies, about a middle-aged singer (played by Lindley) who returns from a stint in rehab and tries to reconnect to family, friends and her faltering career.
One funny aside from opening night: As Lindley was being taken away by EMS, co-star Lise Alexander asked, "Should I call B.J. Cleveland?" That's a reference to this.
The Gingerbread Lady continues through September 11 at Richardson Theatre Centre. Box office, 972-600-1130.