Hollywood star Wendell Pierce tells audience to ‘go to pub’ after West End theatre ceiling collapses
Written by News on 08/11/2019
Hollywood star Wendell Pierce has apologised to fans and said he’s thankful no one was seriously hurt, after part of the ceiling collapsed at Piccadilly Theatre.
The Suits star came out into the street to talk directly to the audience, after what witnesses described as a “huge chunk” of the ceiling fell down during a performance of Death Of A Salesman on Wednesday night.
Several people were hurt and the audience was evacuated from the building in London’s West End.
Witnesses reported there had been a “slight dripping sound” and “running water” followed by “lots of screams” from audience members as a section of the ceiling came crashing down.
A picture from the scene showed a large hole in the ceiling about three or four metres wide, with wires protruding in the middle of it.
Pierce, who plays the lead role of Willy Loman in the play, told fans: “I did not mean for it to go like this. I would like to thank you all for safely evacuating.
“We apologise and we’re glad that no one’s hurt. And I ask you all to come back and see our production. We’re so honoured that you came tonight, and so sorry that this unfortunately has happened.
“We promise you, in return, we will make this a memorable evening of theatre no matter what. So as of now, turn to your loved ones and friends to the left and right, and say, ‘which pub are we going to?’ And let’s go there and have a memorable night in anticipation of coming back.”
The TV star, who is currently starring in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan went on: “I wanna thank you from the bottom of my heart, and all the cast, we want to say thank you for coming out, and try to find time in the next eight weeks to return.
“We promise we will give you the performance of a lifetime.”
The Young Vic theatre has since stepped in and announced a stripped-down version of the show will take place there over the weekend, while the Piccadilly Theatre remains closed.
Audience member Tracy De Groose, described the incident on Twitter, writing: “Roof collapsed in Piccadilly Theatre tonight during performance of Death of a Salesman. Running water, then lots of screams. A few minor injuries.
“Thank you @WendellPierce for coming out to check everyone safe. Decent human beings do exist!”
Journalist Martin George, 41, who was sitting in the grand circle, said: “About 10 minutes into the performance you could hear this slight dripping sound in the [grand] circle and people were looking around, wondering what was happening, but the play carried on.
“As the minutes passed, the dripping became more frequent and it sounded like more water was coming through the ceiling, causing a few people to get up and move.
“The sound eventually got so loud that we stood up and started to leave, as we were wondering what was going to happen.
“Then, as we stood up, this huge chunk of ceiling, about three to four metres across, crashed down.
“There were people screaming at that point and everyone got up and streamed down the stairs.”
Another witness praised the ushers for the swift evacuation of the building.
#Chris Rogers tweeted: A big shout out to the ushers at the @TeamPiccadilly theatre from me, an usher at @oldvictheatre. They were super quick and organised to evacuate and very informative. They said they think people are alright by the way.”
Police said everyone had left the theatre and a few had minor injuries.
The Met’s City of Westminster Police said on Twitter: “Police on scene with LAS & LFB at Piccadilly Theatre in Denman St #Westminster after reports of a ceiling collapse around 7:59pm.
“Everyone is out of the theatre. A few people have suffered minor injuries.
“Road closures in place. Motorists advised to use alternative routes.”
Piccadilly Theatre has confirmed that performances of the play will be cancelled for the rest of this week.
The cast will take part in “rehearsal style” performances at the Young Vic on Friday and Saturday, which will be free for ticket holders to attend on a first-come, first served basis.
In 2013, 79 people were injured when the ceiling of the Apollo Theatre collapsed during a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
An investigation concluded it was due to weak and old materials.