Must Go On

When Theater Stars Forget Lines

The hardest part of performing in a play isn't nailing the character, it's memorizing the lines. During this week's previews of Matthew Broderick in the Off Broadway play Starry Messenger, Broderick called out for lines from a prompter sitting in the first row. He's not the only one. Angela Lansbury used an earpiece to stay on cue during her Tony Award-winning role in Blithe Spirit last season, while the legendary Vanessa Redgrave asked for a prompter during 2002's Long Day's Journey Into Night. As the 84-year-old Lansbury put it, "It’s not something you ever want to do, but if we’re going to play important roles at our age, where our names are above the title on the marquee, we’re going to ask for some support if we need it." After all, without dialogue, how can the show go on?