“The show must go on” is a phrase in show business, meaning that regardless of what happens, whatever show has been planned still has to be staged for the waiting patrons. The saying is used to encourage someone to continue with what they are doing, even if they are experiencing difficulties.
Earlier this month an understudy raced from another theatre to save the day (or evening) during a performance of Mamma Mia in London. Just one scene in, lead actress, Caroline Deverill, was forced off stage with a calf injury. With no understudy of their own, the theatre management team realised that the theatre next door had the very person they needed. Steph Parry, who had appeared in Mamma Mia four years earlier, was an understudy in 42nd Street (she was only an understudy as it was her first day back after a holiday). It was agreed that she could come across and 18 minutes after the injury occurred, Steph was on stage to ensure that the show went on. The packed house gave her a standing ovation!
This made us investigate other similar examples with the following two, somewhat differing, examples coming to light:
During the dinner scene, in the movie ‘Django Unchained” (2013) where Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) learns he has been tricked, DiCaprio slams his hand on the table, breaking a glass and cutting his hand . This wasn’t part of the script and the actor had badly hurt himself but, in true tradition, he never broke character and the take was the one used in the movie. It was his real blood.
Oddly enough, for the official recording of “The Show Must Go On” by Queen, Freddy Mercury sang it in one take as he was dying of complications from AIDS. You can hear him putting so much into it even though he’s so close to the end. This recording is hauntingly beautiful.