When Hood River Valley High School drama teacher Rachel Krummel came onstage in tears during intermission at the March 9 staging of "Bullshot Crummond," many in the audience thought for a split second that it was part of the spoof.
"I've never had to do this," Krummel said, wiping away the tears. She went on to explain that Hans Severinsen, playing the main character of Hugh "Bullshot" Crummond in the comedy, had swallowed part of his stage prop pipe, and that it was lodged in his windpipe.
Krummel offered rainchecks to the audience for the show's final run this weekend, and the obviously dejected cast came onstage for a bow.
Severinsen was taken to the hospital emergency room where he was given medication to numb his throat and make him cough.
On Monday, Krummel said Severinsen had coughed the piece out of his windpipe and then re-swallowed it.
"When he re-swallowed it, it caused damage to his throat," Krummel said. "Today, I just told him not to talk."
Severinsen apparently swallowed the piece during the play's second scene, but continued through the rest of the hour-plus long first act with no outward signs of distress.
"He just puts everything into it," Krummel said. "That's why he's so good." At intermission, Krummel decided to make the difficult call of cancelling the play because she felt it was too risky to go on.
"I have never, ever been in a situation where I've had to come out and send everyone home," Krummel said. She said the whole cast trouped down to the hospital.
"It was very noisy in there," she said.
Doctors said Severinsen should be ready for Thursday's 7:30 p.m. performance. More questionable was a performance for middle school students scheduled for Tuesday; Krummel had a microphone ready for him to use so he wouldn't have to talk loudly in order to project his voice.
Krummel said Saturday's audience was understanding.
"The response from the audience was very heartwarming," she said. "Only three people wanted their money back. Everyone else said they'd come back -- even pay again."
"Bullshot Crummond" runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Bowe Theatre. Senior citizens are offered half-price admission on Thursday.