For D.C. actor Frank Britton, yesterday nearly ended the way most opening nights do. He and the cast of Forum Theatre‘s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot took theirs bows, gathered in Round House Silver Spring’s lobby for a reception, and continued hanging out, in smaller and smaller numbers, late into the night. Not long after 2:15 a.m., Britton said farewell, stopping at a nearby 7-Eleven to grab a snack and then heading toward a taxi stand by the Silver Spring Metro station. He was “literally feet away” from a cab, he says, when a group of young men passed him. “Before I knew it I was sucker-punched, hit in the head, hit three or four times,” he says. They took everything, including his phone and iPad, except for his glasses and a bracelet.
A witness called 911, Montgomery County Police and paramedics responded by 2:32 a.m., and Britton was transported to Holy Cross Hospital. He’s expected to undergo surgery for a shattered cheekbone, and he won’t be able to perform tomorrow when The Last Days of Judas Iscariot resumes its run after an already scheduled day off. An understudy will take his place.
Members of D.C.’s theater community flooded Twitter and Britton’s Facebook page with missives of support today, and he says he’s already had “a parade of friends” visit him in the hospital. One created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Britton’s medical expenses. Britton doesn’t have health insurance and doesn’t know how big a bill he’s facing; the campaign has already collected more than $14,000.
While Britton says he couldn’t have expected such support, Forum Artistic Director Michael Dove says “Frank has the most goodwill of anyone in the D.C. theater community. The guy is the biggest supporter of everything everyone else does. It’s amazing that [the campaign has raised so much money], but it also doesn’t surprise me.”
Police are looking for three to four males in their late teens or early 20s, and no arrest has been made, a Montgomery County Police spokeswoman says.
In addition to the broken cheekbone, Britton has a contusion on the back of his head and had a hemorrhage in one eye, although he says his vision has returned to normal. “I’m sure a shiner is going to form right there,” he says. That won’t keep him off the stage, Britton insists: If he has his way, he’ll be back in the role of Pontius Pilate on Thursday.
Although Britton says he’s in pain, “I’m in relatively good spirits. I’m pushing forth,” he says. “I’m just appreciating the love. I can’t feel bad anymore.”
Image courtesy Forum Theatre