TORONTO — “Come From Away” wardrobe supervisor Melissa Joy Crawford was getting ready for another performance of the hit Canadian musical on Broadway Sunday when the house managercame to her requesting safety pins.
It seemed a theatre patron had ripped his pants and needed a quick fix. Instead, Crawford had the man with the trouser trouble go downstairs to see her.
But when she went to the show’s box of “retired pants,” she couldn’t find his size,and made a fast-thinking request “in a very appropriate way.”
“I’m like, ‘Drop your pants,’ and he’s like, ‘Oh, OK,” Crawford recalled with a laugh in a telephone interview from the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
“So he drops his pants and I hand them back to our stitcher, Estella Marie Simmons, and she puts it on the sewing machine.”
The pants panic was resolved in a matter of minutes, right before the start of the show. It was an easy fix, as the rip was right down the seam.
“We handed him back his pants and they took him back up to the audience,” Crawford said.
The slacks SOS moment has since gone viral, after the man wrote about the experience on Facebook and a screenshot of his post was shared online by many in the theatre community and beyond.
The screenshot, in which the poster’s name is blacked out, says his work pants ripped about 15 centimetres when the pocket got caught on the armrest of his theatre chair.
“I have a four-day trip starting today and no backup pants!!!” says the post, which goes on to describe the experience of getting them fixed in the wardrobe room and praises “Come From Away” as “a great show.”
Many posts on social media have said the man is a pilot. Crawford said she didn’t catch his name and hasn’t spoken with him since.
“This is a show about helping people, but even if I were on some (other) sort of show … I still would have done that. It’s just what you do as a human,” she said.
Written and created by Canadian couple Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the Tony-winning musical is set in Gander, N.L., in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The East Coast town saw its population swell as townspeople sheltered 6,579 passengers and crew from 38 planes diverted when U.S. air space was closed.
A Canadian production of the smash show, which has drawn kudos from a slew of celebrities and is being adapted into a feature film, is running at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto.
Many who shared the viral pants post on social media noted the situation was emblematic of the kindness and spirit of Gander.
Meanwhile, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union praised the workers who helped resolve the situation.
“We’re so proud of them, and especially at that show, because it’s all about pitching in and helping strangers,” said Patricia White, president of IATSE Theatrical Wardrobe Union, Local 764, in New York City.
“It was so perfect that it was ‘Come From Away,’ (which is) about looking after people. We’ve had messages from Canadian friends. The whole thing is very cool.”
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press