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.
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Grace Dent on TV: Peter Kay's Car Share made me genuinely LOL
Avengers: Age of Ultron set to make box office history with $84.5m US opening
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Red Dwarf returns: Craig Charles quits Coronation Street to return to comedy sci-fi series
New on Netflix UK May 2015: From Fast & Furious 6 to World War Z and Grace and Frankie
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils