LONDON — Seventy-six people were injured during a performance of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” at Apollo Theater in Central London after part of the roof collapsed.
The theater was almost full with 720 people watching the performance when the ornate plasterwork ceiling collapsed and brought part of the lighting rig down.
Martin Bowstock, who was in the audience with his family, told the BBC he thought it was part of the show at first.
“All the actors reacted. We saw all the actors looking up above us, and pointing, looking horrified, and then things started falling, and smoke, and I thought it was part of the show, until something hit me on the head very hard,” he said.
“I thought, that’s not quite, that’s not quite right, and then everything came down around us and to be quite honest I thought we were all going to be in really, really, really serious trouble and it felt horrific.”
All those who were trapped had been freed, the emergency services reported.
London Fire Brigade deputy assistant commissioner Graham Ellis, speaking at the scene, said: “Heavy plasterwork and beams have fallen on the audience from a great height. Members of the audience in the theater’s upper circle, circle and stalls have been affected by the structural collapse.
“We have a large number of casualties including walking wounded. The other theaters have responded in the tradition of ‘theaterland’ and have rallied round and taken casualties into their theaters.”
Eight fire engines, with more than 50 firefighters, 25 ambulance crews and an air ambulance attended the scene.
London was hit by a freak thunderstorm about 7 p.m. local time that dumped heavy rain on the city, but it wasn’t immediately clear if that was related to the collapse.
The theater, named for the Greek and Roman god Apollo, god of music and the arts, was built in 1901 and has 775 seats. It is owned and operated by Nica Burns’ Nimax Theaters, which also runs five other major theaters in London’s West End.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which is based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon, has been running in London since August 2012. It started at the National Theater, before transferring to the Apollo in March this year.
AP contributed to this article.