Ben Dicke, director and producer of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Aurora Fox, gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "blood, sweat and toil" -- he's invested all three in bringing this historical emo-rock opera to the Denver stage. Bloody Bloody was all set to open two weeks ago on September 8, when Dicke stepped into an open trap door just hours before curtain time. That postponed the start of the run -- but now Bloody Bloody is set to begin again, with a sneak preview set for 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night, and regular showings commencing on September 27.
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"I thought I was hallucinating, I really did," Dicke says of his fall. "I remember thinking, 'I can't be falling, I'm on stage! It's just like when you're coming down the stairs to your front porch and you think there's one more step, and you catch yourself but your heart jumps up into your throat. It's like that, except it's for six feet."
Falling through a stage's trap door is a pretty drastic step, and Dicke's injuries proved that. He wound up with a nasty gash on his head (that he claims he never even felt), a few broken ribs and a lacerated lung. All of his injuries required a period of recovery, but the lacerated lung made singing and speaking on stage particularly painful -- a bad circumstance to befall the guy who was not only directing and producing the show but playing Andrew Jackson as well.
So rather than recast the show, the company chose to delay the opening -- evincing a level of loyalty to Dicke as their director and lead rivaled only by Dicke's own loyalty to the show. "The cast was going to rehearse without me the Sunday after the fall, and I had really wanted to be there, and had some conversations with my production staff and they felt really strongly about performing the show as it was originally cast," Dicke recalls.
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"We had a big heart-to-heart as a cast and really decided we wanted to do the show the way we had wanted to do it," he adds. "We love the show we had, and that's the show we wanted to give the audience."
Dicke attributes his swift recovery to his fitness level at the time of the accident. "I think a lot of it has to do with my fitness coming into the role -- certainly training and running Leadville the day before rehearsals had my body in the best shape it's ever been in," he says, referring to the Leadville Trail 100, a 50-mile ultramarathon. "That sped my recovery time, as well as some pretty good prescription drugs." And maybe the get-well bouquet from Alex Timbers -- writer of Bloody Bloody -- had something to do with it, too.
See a sneak preview of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Aurora Fox at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Aurora Fox, 9900 East Colfax Avenue; tickets will be $25 at the door only -- no advance tickets will be sold, so get there early. Regular shows will start on September 27 and will run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 6 p.m., through October 28. That's the original end date, but the Thursday shows are new, to make up for lost time; the cast and crew are also talking about a possible election-night show.
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For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Aurora Fox website.