Arena Stage hit by flu bug, but the show must go on - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Arena Stage hit by flu bug, but the show must go on

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Hannah Willman Hannah Willman
WASHINGTON -

It's tough when an illness sweeps through the office and a group of co-workers are out sick at the same time. It puts extra stress on those who are able to make it in.

Over the weekend, the flu bug caused a good bit of drama at D.C.'s Arena Stage. With both the lead actress and the understudy for "My Fair Lady" out sick, it made for a rather rare performance.

Executive Director Edgar Dobie says the theater was forced to cancel the Thursday and Friday night shows.

"It was the thought of losing the third show that brought us to this Hail Mary pass," he says.

Closing weekend, Saturday night, the closer it got to curtain time, the more critical the situation became. The lead actress who plays Eliza Doolittle was home with the flu. Her understudy was also bitten by the bug.

Enter Hannah Willman. She is part of the ensemble cast. She had just two hours to jump into a role which typically takes more than a month of preparation.

She carried the script on stage as backup, but Casting Director Daniel Pruksarnukul tells us she held her own.

"After she got through the first scene and couple of songs, it was amazing to watch," says Pruksarnukul.

Willman tackled not only the song and dance numbers, but several different accents which come along with the role.

The audience members were informed that Willman would be filling in at the start of the show.

"Everyone was cheering for her the whole time," Pruksarnukul says. "As soon as she got done with a song, the audience kind of exploded after those moments when you knew she had achieved something."

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