by Zach Raffio. @zachraffio.
ORLANDO - This weekend saw the premiere of the Orlando Repertory Theater’s production of Bye Bye Birdie, but among the fanfare and rave reviews came an odd detail in the show’s Playbill. While the cast bios included names, credits, and a fun fact or two, actor Lawrence Tollbeck’s bio also included what is, presumably, the day he will die.
“I did not submit that part of the bio,” noted Tollbeck, constantly gazing over his shoulder. “I sent in my regional credits, where I went to school, and a funny anecdote about my dog, Runny. But when I read the printed Playbill, it said ‘Lawrence Tollbeck, 5/21/89 - 8/4/26’. Who added this? Why do they think I’m gonna die that day? Am I gonna die that day? Mine was also the only one that had a birthday as well.”
No other details of the bio were altered - however, in the Playbill’s “Local In Memoriam” section, there was a space with Tollbeck’s picture, with a caption reading “coming soon”.
Caroline Lewp, the show’s director, provided her insight on the disturbing phenomenon.
“I’ve never seen something like this,” noted Lewp, a pillar of the Orlando theatrical community for the last 30 years and who was seen ordering a black veil for the date in question, "just in case." “Sometimes there’s a stray typo or a blurry picture, but I’ve never seen the exact date of someone’s death so confidently predicted and printed on over 500 booklets. I mean, with that kind of surefire attitude, it really does make you wonder… are they right?”
The Broadway Beat managed to catch up with the show’s graphic designer, Rick Corrin, for his take on the anomaly.
“I swear when I sent the Playbills to printing, they didn’t include the day Lawrence will die,” noted Corrin, clutching rosary beads. “Now that I think of it, our normal printer was closed, so I sent the documents to another printer that just happens to be in the cellar of an abandoned orphanage. When I went to pick them up, there were men and women in grey robes all laughing, with a framed picture of Lawrence sitting on a golden table. Didn’t strike me as weird until right now - but I don’t know, it's probably unrelated.”
At press time, Tollbeck claims to have received multiple calls congratulating him on an exceptional performance, as well as one repeat call, always at 3:33am, that sounds like a large group of people laughing.