Oh yes he did! Lowestoft pantomime dame performs in wheelchair after knee injury in rehearsals

Steve Shapelle took to the stage in a wheelchair after an accident in rehearsals.

Steve Shapelle took to the stage in a wheelchair after an accident in rehearsals. - Credit: Archant

When a performer is set to tread the boards on a theatre stage, the phrase 'break a leg' is often used to bring them good luck.

Steve Shapelle is playing 'Nurse Katy' at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.

Steve Shapelle is playing 'Nurse Katy' at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant

But for the popular dame in the annual pantomime in Lowestoft, it nearly became a reality as he suffered a nasty injury in the last dress rehearsal– meaning he has had to perform four theatre shows in a wheelchair.

Steve Shapelle is a seasoned pantomime performer and entertainer.

But nothing could prepare him for the 'sheer pain' he would experience after a knee cartilage injury meant he fell to the floor, while completing a costume change, as the routine rehearsal neared its conclusion.

Ironically, he plays the role of 'Nurse Katy' in the Sleeping Beauty' pantomime at the Marina Theatre, and he recalled how he had already been through about 12 costume changes, when the accident took place.

It was unlucky thirteenth for Mr Shapelle, who suffered the injury as he attempted to remove a flipper.

He had to be treated by paramedics and was given gas and air to assist with the pain.

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But the true performer that he is, and epitomising the saying 'the show must go on', Mr Shapelle did not let his injury stop him performing, and has taken to the stage in a wheelchair for the opening performances.

'It was just one of the most painful things, I lifted my leg up and out went my knee, the cartilage had twisted,' Mr Shapelle said.

'I was in sheer pain and I had a flipper on one foot, a flipper in my hand and my knee had locked.

'I was wearing tights, a leotard and false boobies at the time.

'I hit the deck screaming like a banshee and with my radio microphone on. I think the whole cast thought I had a heart attack.

'Normally this sort of thing can sort itself out but it didn't. I had to have a splint on my leg.'

Mr Shapelle, who now lives in Spain, recalled how he was entertainment manager in Corton about 25 years ago.

His green coat at the time was none other than TV star Joe Pasquale.

Sleeping Beauty opened at the Marina Theatre on Tuesday, December 15 and has already been enjoyed by a number of school children and keen theatre goers.

To book tickets and for show times, call: 01502 533200 or visit: www.marinatheatre.co.uk

For the full story, pick up today's EDP.