Life mirroring art can be a perilous business.
When award-winning Broadway star Andy Karl arrived at the ER after suffering a dramatic injury during a performance of Groundhog Day on Friday night, he almost suffered another injury after a clock nearly fell on him.
As the major theme of Groundhog Day are the travails of weatherman Phil Connors as he battles the oddness of living out the same day over and over again, to be hit by a clock—just before 12.40am on Saturday morning if the clock itself is to be believed—would have counted as painful dramatic irony to add to injury.
The fact that Karl saw the word 'philanthropist' on a plaque in the ER just before the clock fell almost hitting him, and the accident itself had taken place during the number 'Philanthropy,' makes things just plain spooky.
In an Instagram message, Karl said he had "no broken bones but tweaked my knee after a poorly landed leap frog." He would see a specialist before returning to the stage. As to when that would be, and what his possible absence will mean for Groundhog Day, both are unknown.
It wasn't immediately clear that Karl had been injured during Friday evening's performance.
He appeared to lunge-crawl towards a ladder in the latter half of act two of the musical inspired by the 1993 movie. Then the curtain dramatically came down on the performance.
A doctor in the house was called for. Announcements were made the performance would continue--which it did 15-20 minutes later. The injury, the audience was told, was "backstage."
When the show resumed, it soon emerged that the injury had beset Karl, the star of the show who also starred in Rocky the Musical and On The Twentieth Century—both of which he received Tony nominations for.
Karl appeared with a cane for the final scenes. He was painfully hobbling, and the injury appeared to be to his left knee.
However, in the grand tradition of "the show must go on," Karl--playing Phil Connors, the part made famous by Bill Murray in the movie—continued, leaning on railings, and singing the last songs with his co-star Barrett Doss, who plays Rita Hanson. He even inserted a line about not letting an injured knee impede one from continuing.
The audience, recognizing a true trouper, cheered Karl through to the end.
Come curtain call at Groundhog Day, the audience uniformly stood, cheered and clapped Karl's fortitude, as he joined the rest of the cast to take his bows. He was crying and visibly upset and moved, motioned generously towards his fellow actors and orchestra, and then left the stage.
In his Instagram message to fans after attending the ER, Karl said: "Is it irony that I was doing the "philanthropy" number when I fell? Or is it Karma for beating up clocks in the commercials? I'm home now and I have no broken bones but tweaked my knee after a poorly landed leap frog.
"Finishing the show for all the @groundhogdaybwy fans and audience members was something I had to do. Thank you all for hanging in there.
The last song "Seeing You" was for you guys. Thank you for your support. I'm gonna get it looked at by specialist before I go back on stage, but know I love this show and this company and everyone that supports me more than you'll ever know."
He added that he and his wife Orfeh "are overwhelmed by the concern & love you've shown us. #theshowmustgoon ❤
In another Instagram post, Orfeh, Karl's wife, added: "I am deeply humbled by the intense outpouring of concern, support and good thoughts my dear friends & you glorious fans & theater community showed Andy... you seriously got my wreck of a self through the past few hours... my debt of gratitude is eternal! Thank you."
Before Karl's injury, Groundhog Day had suffered from a clutch of technical snafus in preview performances, the latest occurring during Thursday night's show.
The New York Post has compared Groundhog Day to the many problem- and injury-plagued Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark of 2010.
It is as yet unknown whether Karl will be able to continue performing in Groundhog Day.
In a statement released at 11.30pm on Friday, a spokesperson for Groundhog Day told the Daily Beast: "At approximately 10:30 in the second act of Groundhog Day, during the song Philanthropy, Andy Karl injured himself during the performance and left the stage. The show was stopped. Andy insisted on finishing the show and after a 15 minute break went on stage with a cane. Following the performance Andy was taken to see a doctor. We will update you on further news as we hear it."
The musical itself tweeted that Karl was "in good spirits and thanks the fans for their support."
Groundhog Day, which is a transfer of an immensely successful London show, was expected to be a serious Tonys contender. Last weekend Karl won the Best Actor in a Musical at the Olivier Awards, the UK equivalent of the Tonys. As well as Karl's award, Groundhog Day also won the Best New Musical award at the Oliviers.
In a statement issued on Saturday morning, a show spokesperson said: "This afternoon’s performance of Groundhog Day has been cancelled.The production’s lead, Andy Karl, injured himself at the Friday night performance of the new musical and is unable to perform at today’s matinee. Andrew Call will play the role of Phil Connors at today’s 8PM performance. Refunds and exchanges at point of purchase. The production is currently scheduled to open on Monday. Further information about the performance schedule will follow."