According to Chicago Sun-Times, Wayne Brady wants everyone to know: His tongue didn’t get tied, his calf did.
The actor who stars as Aaron Burr in the smash hit Chicago production of “Hamilton” reached out Sunday night to end speculation that he was yanked off stage for flubbing a line during the Saturday afternoon show at the PrivateBank Theatre — one of his first few performances since officially taking over the role on Jan. 17.
“It’s funny to me that’s it’s such big news,” Brady said.
“I jumped off of a stair to get ready to do a number called ‘The Schuyler Sisters’ and I felt a pop in my calf and tried to finish the number. And my leg started seizing up on me,” Brady said after his publicist patched him into a phone call to clear the air, which had become a little hazy due to comments on social media from people who attended the show.
“I was trying to power through and it just couldn’t happen,” he said.
Brady’s understudy, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, replaced him about 15 minutes into the first act.
During intermission, an announcer informed the audience of the replacement without explanation, leaving audience members scratching their heads.
One man in the theater later posted a note to Instagram and Twitter reading, in part: “Wayne Brady as Aaron Burr didn’t know whose line was whose, and was substituted early on. (Better study up, man 🙂 But the rest of the cast was stunning.”
Brady’s emphasis on setting the record straight underscores what’s at stake when it comes to his reputation and that of the mega-hit show.
“Anyone can check my performance record in the umpteen years I’ve been on TV and stage, so even me speaking to you is proof of the fact that I have nothing to hide and there was no flub and I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever heard of a performer flub a line and get yanked off stage. That really doesn’t happen except in bad B movies and bad musicals, so I hope that the accurate story, which is this, will go out and for the rest of my time here I can continue to kick butt in ‘Hamilton’ and have folks out see me kill it.”
His casting in the role was a surprise to many who were more familiar with TV roles as an improv comedian on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and the host of “Let’s Make a Deal” than his varied stage resume.
“What happened was I was in so much pain, which you can imagine, and the more I stepped on it the worse it got and in my mind I figured, “Oh, I’ll play out this number and see what’s wrong offstage,’ and I took one step too many and by the time that I got to center stage my mind was consumed with pain and I couldn’t speak. And I tried to get something out and then I left, and in order to keep the show running they sent in the gentleman Carl who covers me. So to the audience watching they saw a line flubbed — or quiet, rather — and then this 6-foot-4 tall brother come on stage and be Burr,” Brady explained.
“Meanwhile I’m at the physical therapist trying to get it worked on as soon as possible so I could get back in the show. Because first and foremost I’m a trouper and a stage performer, and the adage is ‘The show must go on.’ And once they ascertained that it was a sprain — the physical therapist could wrap it and work on it and ultrasound it — and said if I wanted to I could try to do the evening show, and I said absolutely. And so I was off it for a few hours, came back, wrapped it up and I was in the 8 o’clock show,” said Brady, who also performed Sunday.
“And the only reason I’m even taking the time to speak to you about this is because I didn’t want anything printed that was erroneous and that was wrong and that would not just defame my reputation but this brilliant show. And I love the show and I love the fact that people show up to watch it and I take that so seriously, so I didn’t get a chance to respond to some of the people on Twitter yesterday so I’m happy that we are talking and it’s always, in anything that I do — which my track record shows — I give 100 and 100 comes out. So I felt so bad, even while I’m limping down the stairs and being carried to [physical therapy], knowing that people didn’t get a chance to see me do it the way that I know that I do it because I do it.”
Is he still in pain?
“Well, yes, I’m not going to lie, but if I could do the show yesterday, I certainly was not going to miss one today. So I wrapped up the leg and I did what I had to do and people were happy.”