WHEN Craigavon actor Daniel May narrowly missed losing his life after crashing through a commercial window he thought his dreams of the stage and screen were over.
The 31-year-old actor lay devastated in a hospital bed recovering from surgery that seen his left arm sewn together with nearly 50 stitches both internal and external.
Despite being glad to be alive after the emergency services told him it was a miracle he wasn’t fighting for life, Daniel came to a realisation that he may never be able to step onto a stage again.
Not only is Daniel an actor but he’s also a well known singer and dancer. The accident left him unable to move his arm properly and he ended up going through a gruelling four months of rehabilitation physio.
He explained: “It happened about eight years ago. It was the scariest day of my life.
“I was leaving my CV into a recruitment agency and when I came to the bottom of the stairs, I tripped and missed a step and went over on my ankle.
“I was hopping about trying to get my balance and I leaned on the big front door to steady myself as my foot and ankle were in a lot of pain.
“But within seconds I went crashing through the window and to be honest from then on everything was a blur, the only thing I remember was the horror of looking at my arm and trying to hold it together while lying on the floor screaming for help.
“It turned out the door was only a single pane of glass and not up to health and safety standard.”
When the emergency services arrived Daniel was covered in blood and in shock.
“I can’t believe it but I had no injuries to my face and 95 per cent of the cuts and damage was on my left arm” said Daniel, adding: “There was a 35cm cut, my arm had severe lacerations right down to the bone, the skin had come off my arm like a carved up slab of meat.
“The doctors and ambulance crew said I was lucky to be alive and lucky I wasn’t damaged a lot more than I was.
“They said had the cut have been one centimetre lower it would have been through a major artery in my wrist.”
At the time having to stay off work for over five months meant Daniel was left without hope of ever returning to the stage.
But less than a year after the accident in 2008 he got the big break that would help to return his confidence.
Daniel got through to the on screen auditions for BBC’s reality TV show Any Dream Will Do – the search to find someone to play Joseph on the Westend all thanks to his sister.
He said: “I had played the title role of Joseph in a few local productions in the past so my sister heard that Andrew Lloyd Webber was doing a TV programme searching for someone to play the role she immediately filled in an application form without my knowledge.
“If I’m honest I probably wouldn’t have applied as I was quite nervous as It was less than a year after my injury and I had been doing no practicing or rehearsing over this time.
“I got down to the final 25 on the on-screen auditions where they cut 50 down to 12 people for the live finals and although I wasn’t selected it was exhilarating.
“It was so daunting, the level of talent scared the life out of me. The whole experience really opened my eyes, it was out of this word getting to work with so many talented teachers and meeting so many famous people, Jason Donovan was brought in to meet us on our final day and my face was priceless.”
Taking the leap into the Any Dream Will Do show was just the push Daniel needed to rediscover his love of performance and he set about getting himself back to full strength.
He’s had many roles since locally in productions including Sinbad, Dirty Dancing, Les Mis (Jean val Jean), and 70s musical Boogie Nights as well as pantomimes such as Cinderella.
This month Daniel will go on tour across Northern Ireland with the Sam Cree play The Mating Season playing in venues such as the Armagh Market Place, The Mac in Belfast, Braid Arts in Ballymena and the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn.
And straight after that he will go into rehearsals for Legally Blonde at the Grand Opera House which opens on September 29 and runs until October 3.
Daniel is also a part-time dancer at Cafe Vaudeville in Belfast as well as an accomplished special occasion singer.
Speaking of his forthcoming roles Daniel said: “In The Mating Season my character is called Mervyn, he is a typical Chav is his mid twenties, I love this character as he is so different from myself. The show itself is a comedy that revolves Sid – Mervyn’s dad – a widower who wants to move on with his life, the only way possible is to get his two older sons and his brother in law partnered up and out of the family home.
“In Legally Blonde I play a the small role of Carlos but I do a solo in the song Gay or European and as you can imagine it is hilarious, this scene finishes with a Dance number with Carlos and his would be partner Nicos.
“For the rest of the show I am a dancer and part of the chorus as well as in many other scenes.
“After my accident I never thought for a minute that I would be able to be back on the stage and to get the opportunity to play five of the country’s most prestigious venues all in one month is a dream come true.
“Of course my big dream is that one day I will be able to take to the stage on the Westend, or even Broadway.”
The Building Bridges Community Arts Theatre production of The Mating Season will tour throughout September and Legally Blonde opens at the Grand Opera House on September 29.
Click on posters below for more information