With about 10 minutes to go until the doors opened and audience members started flooding the Mahwah High School auditorium for its performance of “Idiot’s Delight” last Friday, MHS junior and star of the show Dana Carl was walking across the stage and down the steps to meet a cast-mate who was in the audience.
“I must have missed my footing, because I fell from the top step to the floor,” Carl said. “It was either fall on my head or on my arm, so I chose my arm.”
When she landed, Carl said her elbow hurt, but she wasn’t about to let down the show’s cast and crew, and all of the people who were waiting to watch her performance.
“At that point, I think the adrenaline just took over,” she said. Carl performed her role as Irene without a hiccup, and with help from her friends who made sure her arm was alright backstage, the audience had no idea the actress had fallen moments before the show began.
A trip to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood at about 10:45 p.m. last Friday revealed a different story. Carl had severe breaks in the bones in her elbow, had to stay at the hospital for two nights, and received surgery Saturday morning that inserted a metal plate and six screws into her elbow.
“Given the severity of her injury, the doctor’s couldn’t believe she continued performing,” Carl’s mom, Joyce said.
Her fellow actors and MHS Drama Director Jean Johnson were shocked to learn about the extent of the actress’s injuries, too – especially since the show hadn’t cast an understudy.
“I could have put someone in there [last weekend] reading from a script in her hand,” Johnson said. “But [Carl] has such a crucial role, and after doing such a fabulous job with the role, and performing with a broken elbow, we thought postponing the performance and waiting for Dana to come back was the best and fairest thing to do.”
The school sent out a one call to residents and posted notices that the remaining two performances in the show’s run would be postponed until this weekend. Carl spent most of the week recuperating at home, but returned to rehearsals Thursday excited to take the stage again this weekend.
“Everyone has been so sweet,” Carl said. “The drama club is really like a family and I really appreciate everything everyone did for me during this whole thing.”
According to Johnson, helping was an easy decision.
“[Dana] is such a beloved member of the cast, the other kids jumped at the opportunity to support her,” she said.
And, minus a shiny sling that matches Carl’s costume, Johnson said she anticipates no one will notice anything different, and the rescheduled show will go off without a hitch.
The Drama Club will put on ‘Idiot’s Delight’ this Saturday at 7 p.m. and this Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.