Wesley Daniel, an actor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, suffered second-degree burns to his face and serious burns to his throat while trying to breathe fire during a dress rehearsal for the opera Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.
“He blew one or two fireballs, and then it looked like he had spilled it (propellant) on his chin or his chest or something,” said Chicago Tribune photographer Jason Wambsgans, who was at the rehearsal on Monday afternoon as part of coverage for an upcoming review of the opera. “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.”
Daniel, 24, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Doctors initially thought that Daniel was not suffering breathing problems as a result of the accident, but it turned out that he was, so the actor was transferred to Loyola University Medical Center. He was still in critical condition at the time of the change in care facilities.
Daniel was wearing a flame-proof costume and mask at the time and the stunt he was performing had been pre-approved by the Fire Department.
After Daniel tumbled off his stilts and was engulfed in flames, people in the wings of the stage began spraying the young actor with fire extinguishers. “Half of the extras were transfixed by that,” Wambsgans said. After about 15 seconds the rest of the actors realized what was happening and the rehearsal ground to a halt.
The crew took a break for a half an hour and then attempted to resume the rehearsal but it was just too tough and the session was cut short.
Source: (The Chicago Tribune)