On the evening of January 1st 1975, packed to the rafters in the Broadway Plymouth Theater on 45th Street, an audience waited patiently for EQUUS, produced by Kermit Bloomgarden and Doris Cole Abram, written by Peter Shaffer, directed by the visionary John Dexter, lighting by Andy Phillips, scenery executed by John Napier, mime by Claude Chagrin, and starring Anthony Hopkins, Peter Firth, and a luminary cast of NY’s finest actors and actress, Marion Seldes, Michael Higgens, Frances Sternhagen, Roberta Maxwell, Walter Mathews, Mary Doyle to begin their nightly journey through EQUUS, the play which had been praised by the NY Times critic Clive Barnes as “Broadway has found a triumph.” The house lights dimmed, went to black and the stage lights slowly came up to reveal the most minimal of minimalist stages where Sir Anthony or Tony as he prefers to be called, stood. The horses played by Gabriel Oshen, John Tyrell, David Ramsey Gus Kaikonen, and Everett McGill could be heard to move restlessly in the wings. Sir Tony who had returned from an early dinner at Sardis walked slowly downstage toward the audience mouthing the first words, “There was one particular horse called Nugget …” and then he said, in his most august Welsh accent, “Ladies and gentleman I’m very sorry but I’m not feeling well and won’t be able to continue.” (He did look very damp and he was a kind of a sickly, nasty green color). However, he added, “The management will return your money and give you the opportunity to purchase another ticket at a later date.” Protests, dismay and confusion in the house. At which point our fabulous Stage Manager, Robert Borard appeared like a bolt of lightning, whisked Tony off the stage and returned a good twenty seconds later and told the now silent, stunned, motionless audience to go to the lobby, and resume their seats in no more than half an hour.
Meantime, THE UNDERSTUDY sat miles away downtown in his NYC Village apartment as he had done every evening since the show had opened. We were told later he had been watching television, eating a grilled cheese sandwich and enjoying a Coco-Cola when the call came. Twenty five minutes later he stepped forward and said to the still packed Plymouth Theater, “There was one particular horse called Nugget .. ” The horses moved restlessly in the wings. At the the end of the evening the cast and the audience stood for him and cheered loudly.
His name was Alan Mixon.