False step fells ‘Macbeth’ actor in Port Townsend outdoor production

PORT TOWNSEND — His cellphone rang just as “Macbeth” director Charlie Bethel took his seat on the plane.

He was headed Monday to Minnesota, where Bethel and his family were to take a road trip.

Instead, that phone call brought him back to Port Townsend, where he would become the new Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy, playing in Chetzemoka Park at Blaine and Jackson streets at

6 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday, and next Friday through Sunday, Aug. 19-21.

Here’s the twisting tale: Kerry Skalsky, the actor hired for the title role in Key City Public Theatre’s “Macbeth,” injured his Achilles tendon during Sunday night’s performance.

This happened not during one of the many fight scenes.

No, all Skalsky did was take a step back, in reaction to dialogue during his final scene.

And like an athlete, he carried on.

“Adrenaline kicked in,” Key City artistic director Denise Winter said, adding that Skalsky managed to take his final bow.

The actor hoped it was just a minor thing, but by Monday, “it was excruciatingly painful,” Winter said.

Crutches for six weeks

Skalsky’s doctor told him he needed to wrap his leg and use crutches for six weeks.

So Winter sought help from local and Seattle actors with Shakespeare experience, but none was prepared — certainly not as prepared as Bethel, the show’s director since rehearsals began last June.

He’d planned to depart Port Townsend right after “Macbeth’s” opening weekend since his work was done.

When Winter’s call came and Bethel deplaned just before takeoff, he was quite upset.

“I miss my wife and kids,” he said Thursday.

But Bethel knew he was Key City’s best hope for “Macbeth.” He knows the lines — after all he adapted the script for this production — and his fellow actors are supporting him, Winter added.

“Everyone in the company rallied. They’re providing a giant cushion for a soft landing,” she said.

Thrill involved

“There’s some thrill involved for us in that we get to work with Charlie in this capacity,” added Erin Lamb, who plays a witch, a murderer and a masked soldier in “Macbeth.”

“When something like this happens, it’s a boat-rocker on one hand, but it’s a real triumph-maker on the other,” she said.

“Everybody gets a chance to dig in . . . It creates a different dynamic, but it’s an exciting one.”

Winter, for her part, is feeling relief after Key City patrons stepped in to help with this unbudgeted expense.

Bethel, a member of the Actors Equity union, must be paid for his extra service, and a small group of audience members, who had raved about “Macbeth’s” opening performances last weekend, provided donations to cover the cost of his extended stay.

It’s a little more than $1,500 — an excellent investment, Winter believes.

“You’re going to see a compelling performance,” she said, adding that for Port Townsend-area audiences, this a rare opportunity to see two professional actors playing one of the most famous roles in theater history.

Admission to the play is a suggested donation of $20 for adults Fridays and Saturdays, $18 on Sundays or $10 for students at all performances.

For details, phone 360-385-7396.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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