They say practice makes perfect, but no amount of preparation can prevent an accident. Whether you’re putting on a dance recital or musical, you may imagine a flawless opening night. Even if practices are going great, prepare for the common things that go wrong on opening night. You’re more likely to succeed if you cover all your bases.

Wardrobe Malfunctions

A common crisis many people run into while on stage or backstage is a wardrobe malfunction. Whether you’re responsible for costumes or must wear one, keep extra clothespins on hand in case something tears. Further, be careful while putting on your costume, so the zipper doesn’t break. One of the main reasons zippers split is because something—such as fabric—is stuck in the teeth.

Forgetting Lines or Steps

Don’t expect to wing opening night of a play or recital. Know your lines and steps better than the back of your hand before taking them to the stage. The pressure of lights and hundreds of eyes staring at you won’t help you memorize them better. It’s common for amateur performers to make mistakes during the first few nights of a show. Still, you can blow your audience away by never missing a beat.

Freezing Up

Some actors freeze up when it’s their first time on stage in front of a crowd. You might feel your heart pound and your body begin to sweat. Stage fright is common, and you can manage it with meditation and visualization techniques. Try not to throw yourself into a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Instead, find ways to make being on stage feel like second nature.

Injuries in the Dark

A habitual incident during the opening nights of shows is injuries. Technicians must keep backstage dark, making it easy to trip over a wire, part of a set, or sound equipment. Even on stage, actors get injured in the dark without highlighted paths to help them get to their positions.


If you’re part of the crew or working backstage, use a flashlight to get around. Remember to turn it off when the curtain is open or point it away from the audience.

Unfamiliar Stages

Traveling with your show poses all sorts of challenges for opening night. You may have limited time to set up and try a practice run to ensure everything will go well. Working with unfamiliar sound and light systems can pose challenges for technicians, musicians, and those on stage. The best way to prepare is to show up as soon as possible to become familiar with the space.

You can avoid the most common things that go wrong on opening night by preparing ahead of time. Regardless of who you’re working with, understand that mistakes happen. Whether you’re in the show or supporting people who are, know how to prepare for any mishap. Anyone could get injured in the dark or freeze up on stage. Further, actors may forget lines or have trouble with a costume. Be ready to support your castmates in any way, so the show is a success.

Oct 8, 2021

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