Actor Wendell Pierce tells audience to go to pub after theatre ceiling collapse

Actor Wendell Pierce tells audience to go to pub after theatre ceiling collapse

Actor Wendell Pierce told theatregoers he was “so sorry” after part of a ceiling collapsed during a West End performance.

The Piccadilly Theatre in Denman Street in central London was evacuated and emergency services called shortly before 8pm on Wednesday after part of the ceiling crashed down into the auditorium during a performance of Death Of A Salesman.

Suits star Pierce, who was playing the part of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s play, emerged from the theatre to apologise to audience members.

“I would like to thank you all for safely evacuating,” he said. “We apologise and we’re glad that no-one’s hurt, and I ask you all to come back and see our production.

“We’re so honoured that you came tonight, we’re so sorry that unfortunately this happened.”

Around 1,100 people were evacuated from the building, London Fire Brigade said.

Pierce, known for his role in HBO drama The Wire and as Meghan Markle’s on-screen father in Suits, encouraged audience members to go to the pub and to return to see the show another day.

“We promise you in return we will make this a memorable evening of theatre no matter what,” he said.

Part of the ceiling collapsed around 20 minutes into the performance (Theo Carter/PA)
Part of the ceiling collapsed around 20 minutes into the performance (Theo Carter/PA)

“So, as of now, turn to your loved ones and friends to your left and right and say ‘Which pub are we going to?’ and let’s go there and have a memorable night in anticipation of coming back.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and all the cast want to say thank you for coming out and try to find time in the next eight weeks to return, and we promise we will give you the performance of a lifetime.”

Four people were taken to hospital, according to the London Ambulance Service.

Ed Zanders, who was in the audience and captured Pierce’s speech on camera, said: “It was about 20 minutes into the play, and first there was a low rumble of background noise which quickly escalated into loud screaming.

“I initially thought it was part of the show, but then people in the rows in front of me started to get up and run for the doors.”

Mr Zanders, a 25-year-old musician from London, praised front-of-house staff and added: “Wendell Pierce was very genuine, and wanted us all to come back again in the next eight weeks – which I fully intend to do.”

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