Fire-breathing stiltwalker suffers 'severe' burns and collapses during opera rehearsal
Actor Wesley Daniel is being treated in hospital after the accident at the Lyric Opera of Chicago
A fire-breathing stiltwalker has suffered 'severe' burns to his face, neck and hands after a mask he was wearing caught fire.
The incident occurred during a dress rehearsal of Die Meistersinger von Nurenberg at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in front of a shocked audience.
Actor Wesley Daniel, 24, had set fire to alcohol in his mouth but his head and "fireproof" mask were also set alight.
Witness reports say he was engulfed in flames before staggering off stage and collapsing and being doused with fire extinguishers by theatre staff in the wings.
Daniel is being treated at Loyola Hospital.
A Lyric Opera statement said: "Daniel was performing a fire-spitting effect while on stilts. He was wearing a flameproof costume and mask."
The spokesperson said the "fire-spitting effect had been approved by the Chicago Fire Department" but that a decision has now been made to remove it from performances.
The accident happened just half an hour before the end of the five-and-a-half hour opera that is due to open on Friday.
Audience-member Edward Voci told ABC: "His head was engulfed in flames and he was centre stage and in a panic."
"He was trying to put it out and then moved as quickly as he could on stilts but then he had no choice but to just fall down."
Actor Mia Rehwalpt was performing on stage when Daniel caught fire. She said: "I saw his head get covered in flames and I didn't really know what was happening."
"When he fell on the ground from his stilts it was really scary because it made a really loud thump."
A photographer for the Chicago Tribune Jason Wambsgans, described the moment Daniel caught fire: “He blew one or two fireballs, and then it looked like he had spilled it (propellant) on his chin or his chest or something.”
Adding: “It kind of consumed him, and he was staggering across the stage and then fell off his stilts on the opposite side of the stage.”
The Lyric's spokesperson said: "Lyric's emergency plan was activated immediately. Trained fire guards extinguished minor flames immediately. The fire curtain was lowered."
Theatre staff called the emergency services and paramedics arrived within minutes.
After an investigation by the Chicago Fire Department lasting about half an hour the rehearsal was allowed to continue.
The performance was cut short and finished around 6pm on Monday evening.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Amy Winehouse film director: 'I wanted to show the fun, bright-eyed girl we didn't know'
Orange Is The New Black season 3 episode 1, review: The Ross and Rachel-ness of Piper and Alex is starting to grate
The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair at Glastonbury is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House, review: Gang rape and stripping naked of female actor met with boos
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato