A 24-year-old performer was burned on-stage Monday during a Lyric Opera House dress rehearsal.
A dress rehearsal at the Lyric Opera of Chicago was interrupted Monday when a performer was critically injured during a fire stunt.
The Chicago Fire Department was called to the Lyric, 20 N. Wacker Drive, around 4:50 p.m. to treat actor Wesley Daniel, 24.
Daniel was initially in serious-to-critical condition when taken to Northwestern, after suffering burns to his throat and second-degree burns to his face while “spitting fire,” the Fire Department's media office said.
A Tribune photographer, Jason Wambsgans, was at the rehearsal, arriving at the beginning of the third act to take pictures for an upcoming Tribune review of the opera “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.”
The first scene of the third act took about an hour. It was in the second scene when Wambsgans pulled out a long-angle lens to take pictures of the busy stage full of extras, in this case, circus performers.
Daniel was one of them.
When it appeared that Daniel, on stilts, was ready to put some sort of propellant in his mouth to shoot fireballs, Wambsgans started snapping photos.
“He blew one or two fireballs, and then it looked like he had spilled it on his chin or his chest or something,” Wambsgans said. “It kind of consumed him, and he was staggering across the stage and then fell off his stilts on the opposite side of the stage.”
Wambsgans said he saw people in the wings of the stage spraying Daniel with fire extinguishers.
“Half of the extras were transfixed by that,” Wambsgans said.
It took about 15 more seconds before the rest of the extras stopped singing and acting, realizing what had happened, he said.
After a 30-minute break, a visibly distressed crew was back rehearsing, Wambsgans said. But the rehearsal was cut short, ending about 6 p.m.
Initially, it was thought Daniel was not suffering breathing problems, but he was, according to the Fire Department, and he was transferred to Loyola University Medical Center in critical condition.
Daniel was believed to have suffered injuries including blistering on his face, a spokeswoman for the Lyric said in an email. He was wearing a flame-proof costume and mask. The dress rehearsal was interrupted, but it later resumed and was in the last act of “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” by about 5:30 p.m.
Daniel was performing a stunt that had been approved by the Fire Department, according to the Lyric.
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