Producer Jeffrey Finn confirmed reports that Pappas' vehicle was struck by a sport utility vehicle Feb. 19, the Monday before the Phoenix engagement was to begin. Actress Kate Levy, who plays Bill's love interest, Chelsea, in the revival of the Ernest Thompson play, was in the car with him at the time. Both were reportedly wearing seat belts. Levy was shaken but apparently not seriously injured, Finn and others told Playbill.com. The actress played the week of shows in Phoenix opposite understudy Brian Russell.
At the time of the accident, the performers were on a local shopping trip — a customary day-off task for actors preparing for their week of shows in a new town.
Finn and others said Pappas' extensive and serious injuries would require many months of recovery. His injuries include many broken ribs, a broken pelvis, a broken jaw and a collapsed lung. Pappas is "medicated and responsive" and remains in intensive care, Finn said.
"He's got an incredibly long road that's going to include physical therapy," Finn said. "We are exploring every way that we can to help Evan. People have come out of the woodwork to express their love for him."
Pappas' mother Bess traveled from San Francisco to Phoenix to be with her son. His siblings, friends and colleagues have also been supportive. It was not immediately clear if and when Pappas might be moved to another city to complete his recovery. The On Golden Pond company played its last Phoenix show at the Orpheum Theatre Sunday Feb. 25 and moved on to Huntsville, AL, where the tour will close (as scheduled) March 4.
"Evan is one of the most positive people on this tour," Finn said. "The company is very sad — not having Evan with them is a devastating loss."
A warm and open actor, Pappas was an obvious choice for the role of Bill Ray Sr., On Golden Pond casting director Stuart Howard told Playbill.com. Howard brought Pappas in to be seen by director Leonard Foglia when they were casting the tour in 2006.
Howard said, "He is loved, he is a doll and has always been one."
Well wishes (cards and letters, but not packages or flowers) can be sent to Evan Pappas c/o On Golden Pond tour, Jeffrey Finn Productions, Inc., 1501 Broadway, Suite 2003, New York, NY 10036.
The national tour of this 2005 Tony Award nominated production directed by Leonard Foglia launched Aug. 22, 2006, headlined by Tom Bosley and Michael Learned. Craig Brockhorn and young actor Shadoe Brandt are also featured. The production originated in 2004 at the Kennedy Center with James Earl Jones, and moved to Broadway.
The 2006-07 tour was struck by an earlier tragedy when understudy Edwin C. Owens, a veteran actor whose career spanned almost 50 years, died of heart failure Sept. 16 during the Fort Worth, TX, stop on the itinerary.