Bran Pace, a dancer in the national tour of Jolson: The Musical, was attacked and shot in the neck by a mugger Nov. 27 as he walked from the Lyric Theatre to his hotel, in Baltimore.
Police are still investigating the attack, which has so-far left the 28 year-old Pace paralyzed from the waist down with a damaged spinal cord. Friend and colleague Paul DePasquale confirmed details of the incident to Playbill On-Line (Dec. 3) from Pace's bedside at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
The bullet fired at close range around 11:30 PM Nov. 27 is still lodged in Pace's neck. Removing it may further impair his movement. Pace's arm movement has also been slightly limited due to nerve damage, DePasquale said. The attack on West Saratoga at St. Paul Street was random; Pace did not know his attackers, according to DePasquale.
DePasquale said Pace is feeding himself, is lucid and eager to begin physical therapy toward recovery. Doctors are deciding the next step for Pace. Pace was awake and talking, but was exhausted in the hospital, according to DePasquale.
Pace, who played one of Ruby Keeler's tap dancers in the touring musical biography of Al Jolson, may be at the hospital through the holidays and he may seek rehabilitation in Atlanta, near his sister. Pace is a native of North Carolina whose permanent address is New York City. His parents, H.C. and Carolyn Pace, were not available to comment. Through DePasquale, Pace confirmed there were two attackers who approached him as we walked from the Lyric Theatre to the Tremont Plaza Hotel. As he struggled with them, fellow company member Derek Isetti approached them and urged Pace to give up his money and backpack, but Pace was shot. As the attackers ran off with Pace's backpack, a shot was fired at Isetti, and missed.
According to a story in The Baltimore Sun, the attackers fled in a dark colored four-door car, perhaps an Audi or BMW. The Sun reported the incident was one of 20 shootings in Baltimore between Nov. 27-30. Three people were killed by gunfire in that period.
Isetti and the company continued in the Baltimore run until Sunday (Nov. 29) and have moved on to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota, FL. (Dec. 1-6). Jolson company manager John M. Byers told Playbill On-Line the troupe was "devastated" but "pulling together."
A fund to help defray Pace's medical and/or rehabilitation costs has been set up through the Actors' Fund of America, according to Barbara Davis of the Actors' Fund. Donations are tax deductible. Call (212) 221- 7300.
Well-wishers may write Pace at Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 North Wolfe St., Baltimore, MD, 21287.
Actors' Equity Association president Alan Eisenberg said Equity has a "liberal" health care plan that should provide 365-day catastrophic hospital care for Pace. It was not immediately clear how the injury was covered by workers' compensation, Eisenberg said.
Eisenberg said he would contact Pace and also actor Christopher Reeve, a quadripalegic, to see if Reeve might be able to help Pace with any "remedial" treatment or advice.
A poster signed by the cast is in Pace's room and company members visited him over the weekend after the shooting, some choosing to travel separately to Sarasota so they could spend more time with Pace.
-- By Kenneth Jones