The broadcaster Kerri-Anne Kennerley has broken her collarbone and chipped her ankle after falling from a trapeze during Wednesday night’s performance of Pippin at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre.
Kennerley plays Pippin’s grandmother Berthe. The final part of her signature song, No Time At All, is performed from the trapeze in this production of the Stephen Schwartz Broadway classic.
Kennerley was not wearing a harness and was not clipped to the trapeze, in what a spokesman for the production said was standard practice. According to producers, the show stopped briefly before Kennerley got to her feet, brushed herself off and resumed singing. The audience gave her a round of applause before she was taken to St Vincent’s hospital.
In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Kennerley, 67, said: “Pippin has genuinely been one of the great experiences of my life, exceeding all my expectations.
“The cast have always been supportive and now more than ever. What happened is just a random misstep in the trapeze and circus world. I’ve always felt safe in their hands but accidents just happen.”
Kennerley will be replaced by an understudy for “the time being”, producers said. That will, presumably, rule her out for most if not all of the Sydney season of the show, slated to end on 31 January 2021.
At time of writing, Kennerley was still in hospital, but hoped to return to her Sydney home later on Thursday.
“In my big number, I have to get on a trapeze and go up 15ft (4.5 metres),” Kennerley told the Senior in a promotional interview.
“I’m helped by a very strapping, hunky trapeze artist and we do several movements including one called the Bird, and one where I have to hang by my feet.”
In a video recording of the performance taken by an audience member in the dress circle, Kennerley is seen falling to the stage after losing her grip on the hands of the trapeze artist above her. Members of the cast and crew immediately form a protective circle around their downed colleague in what appears to be a pre-rehearsed contingency.
In a statement posted on Instagram by her agency 22 Management, Kennerley said: “Good riddance to 2020.”
She said she was well-trained in the routine and was getting stronger. “I’m devastated that I can’t finish the run. It was just so much fun. I broke my collarbone quite severely and have a slight chip of my ankle bone. I will know within a week if I need surgery. But I’m hoping my injury will heal in the natural course of time but for now I have to bow out. I will miss my Pippin family!!”
Kennerley’s casting in Pippin was controversial. The former morning show anchor and panellist drew criticism in 2019 for her on-air statements about sexual violence in Indigenous communities, before being laid off by Channel 10 in a sweeping round of redundancies announced in August 2020.
Pippin cancelled shows last week amid a new outbreak of Covid in Sydney, but performances this week were going ahead as scheduled.