YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The week before his biggest show of the year, Todd Hancock, co-director of Easy Street Productions, got some bad news: he needs heart surgery.
As a result, he won’t be able to do the skits and songs that he has become known for in “Miracle on Easy Street,” his company’s annual holiday revue. “Miracle” will be performed four times Dec. 13-15 at Powers Auditorium, with three more shows for school field trips Dec. 11 and 12.
Hancock is scheduled to have triple bypass surgery on Dec. 17 at Cleveland Clinic.
He will not be able to appear in the school performances due to medical appointments, and is unsure what, if anything, his involvement will be at the public performances.
Hancock has been doing “Miracle” for 30 years and although he finds it difficult to delegate the preparatory work needed to stage such a massive show, he’s doing it. “Miracle” features about 150 dancers, singers and musicians.
“It is literally the busiest week of the year for me and I’m getting winded just climbing the stairs,” he said. “I’m trying not to stress, but the set up for this show is kind of colossal.”
The theater veteran received the news on Dec. 6. He informed his cast and crew over the weekend and followed it with a Facebook post.
“I’m pretty emotional about the whole situation, especially not being in ‘Miracle,’ ” he wrote. “A few of the Little Rascals [Easy Street’s youth group] took my news pretty hard and there was a lot of tears and hugging going on at rehearsal. I told them that like the Grinch, my ‘heart was two sizes too small’ and just needed a little fixing.”
Hancock told his cast members that “Miracle” is bigger than any one person and reminded them of the theater adage “The show must go on!”
Hancock has a history of heart problems, and doctors told him that being in the show this year might be too much strain.
“The thought of not being in ‘Miracle’ is an even bigger strain on my heart,” he wrote.
Two highlights of “Miracle” every year are routines in which Hancock plays Charlie Chaplin and Elvis Claus. Caleb MacKay will substitute for him in “Hats Half Off,” the Chaplin routine, while the Elvis Claus skit will be removed from the program.
“I have what medical professionals might refer to as a ‘bum ticker,’ ” he told The Business Journal. “I inherited my bad plumbing from my parents who both had to deal with heart issues. But because I am the product of both, I have been experiencing the same problems in my 40s and 50s that they had in their 70s and 80s.”
Hancock’s latest trouble began in recent weeks when he noticed he was becoming exhausted and out of breath after physical exertion.
To those who have already purchased tickets for “Miracle,” as well as those who plan to buy them this week, Hancock had a message.
“You have nothing to worry about,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “This is without a doubt one of the most talented casts we’ve ever assembled in the past 30 years.”
For times and tickets, go to YoungstownSymphony.com or call 330 744 0264.
Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.