Tyler Maynard and I drive to the George Street Playhouse a lot with Lauren Kennedy, and we were discussing onstage mishaps (my fave). We were saying that the gun at the end of West Side Story often fires by accident or doesn't fire at all. Apparently, Lauren knows of one performance where Chino went to shoot Tony at the end of the show and the gun didn't go off. Tony had to die, so he feigned that the sight of the gun….gave him a heart attack. What? Then when Maria brandished the gun to the Sharks and the Jets, instead of saying, "How many bullets are left in this gun? Enough for you? And you?" She made it more specific and said, "Enough to give a heart attack to you? And you?"
The last story sounds like folklore, but Tyler was actually at a performance of Sweeney Todd where the guy playing Sweeney shooed the Beggar Woman out of his shop with his signature "Off with you! Off with you." Unfortunately, it was the scene where he was supposed to kill her! The whole end of the show rides on the fact that the Beggar Woman is dead, so Mrs. Lovett came out and decided to save the day by killing her with an ax. But, it was a real ax and too dangerous to use close to someone's body. So, as she yelled, "Die! Die!" and swung the ax downward, she was forced to stop a good two feet above the Beggar Woman. I guess it allowed the audience to use their imagination. And ask for their money back.