The Goodman Theatre’s world-premiere solo play Pamplona was halted midway through its May 30 opening night performance after the show’s star, veteran stage and screen actor Stacy Keach, “appeared ill and confused on stage,” according to a tweet from Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones.
“Goodman theatre forced tonight to suspend opening night of Pamplona mid-show after actor Stacy Keach appeared ill and confused on stage,” Jones tweeted.
Goodman theatre forced tonight to suspend opening night of Pamplona mid-show after actor Stacy Keach appeared ill and confused on stage.
— Chris Jones (@ChrisJonesTrib) May 31, 2017
Keach, who portrays literary giant Earnest Hemingway, is the sole actor in the 80-minute play by Jim McGrath that began previews May 19 and recently extended through June 25. Set in Pamplona, Spain, in 1959—the play dramatizes a late-in-life Hemingway as he struggles to finish his life’s work. Robert Falls, the Tony Award-winning artistic director of the Goodman Theatre, directs.
Representatives for the Goodman released the following statement to Playbill: “Goodman Theatre had to unexpectedly halt this evening’s performance of Pamplona by Jim McGrath. The show’s star, Stacy Keach, had not been feeling well earlier in the day, but made the decision to go on with the performance. When it became clear midway through that Mr. Keach was struggling, director Robert Falls took the stage and announced that the performance would conclude. Performances are expected to resume as scheduled, and the Goodman will personally be in touch with those in attendance this evening to reschedule.”
Goodman reps confirmed that Keach intends to resume performances as scheduled May 31 at 7:30 PM.
Jones detailed the opening night incident, reporting that about an hour into the performance Keach appeared to be lost in one of his monologues, “repeating large swaths of text three or four times and appearing confused and, for certain, far from his usual on-stage self.”
Audience members were initially uncertain as to whether or not it was part of the script. Hemingway suffered nine concussions in his life, which plagued his mental health in later years.
A stage manager halted the performance, citing technical difficulties. Falls took the stage to inform the audience that Keach had been ill all day, but wanted to go on with the opening night performance—a decision the theatre supported.
Falls told the Sun-Times that preview performances of Pamplona had been excellent, stating that Keach “was flawless from the word go and had nothing but great success and brilliant performances.”
He added that the actor seemed shaky during a Tuesday run-through but was determined to go on despite Falls’ suggestion that he rest or consult a doctor.
Keach’s wife and daughter were in attendance for the opening night, and Falls informed the Tribune that Keach was “calm, with his family, and planning on consulting a medical professional.”
Thirty years ago Keach was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for playing the author in a 1988 television miniseries titled Hemingway. Keach and Falls previously collaborated on Finishing the Picture and King Lear at the Goodman.
“After the prize comes the pressure,” read press notes for Pamplona. “Basking in the glory of career-defining awards—the 1953 Pulitzer Prize and the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954—legendary writer Ernest Hemingway insists his best work is yet to come. Five years later, holed up in a Spanish hotel with a looming deadline, he struggles to knock out a story about the rivalrous matadors of Pamplona. But his real battles lie outside the bullfighting arena; in declining health, consumed by his troubled fourth marriage and tormented by the specter of past glories, he must now conquer the deepening despair that threatens to engulf him.”
Visit GoodmanTheatre.org. The Goodman is located at 170 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois.