Audience members fled from one of the West End's most popular theatres after part of the ceiling collapsed during a production on Wednesday night, but US actor Wendell Pierce is being praised for the way he addressed the dramatic incident.

A number of people suffered minor injuries from falling debris when the collapse left a gaping hole in the ceiling above the grand circle at the Piccadilly Theatre, 20 minutes into Death of a Salesman, the Daily Mail reports.

Police, the London Fire Brigade and the London Ambulance Service arrived as theatre goers were evacuated.

Dominic West and Wendell Pierce attend the press night after party for Death Of A Salesman in London, England. West, starred with Pierce in The Wire. Photo / Getty Images
Dominic West and Wendell Pierce attend the press night after party for Death Of A Salesman in London, England. West, starred with Pierce in The Wire. Photo / Getty Images

Videos on social media showed lead actor Pierce — who plays Willy Loman in the Arthur Miller play — posing for pictures with fans outside the 91-year-old theatre after the evacuation.

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"I did not mean for it to go like this," he was filmed saying in one video, to laughs from the audience gathered on the footpath.

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Pierce, who previously starred as Robert Zane in Suits, thanked people for evacuating the building safely and apologised on behalf of the show's cast.

"We are so honoured that you came tonight; we're so sorry that ... unfortunately this happened.

"We promise you when we return we will make this a memorable evening at the theatre, no matter what," he continued in another video.

"So as of now, turn to your loved ones and friends, to your left and right, and say 'Which pub are we going to?' and let's go there and have a memorable night in anticipation of coming back."

Samuel Rhydderch, 21, who was at Wednesday night's show, said: "There was a piercing scream coming from the upper tier above us, then there was a lot of rumbling which turned out to be people running. I saw some people being treated for cuts and bruises but it didn't seem serious."

- additional reporting nzherald.co.nz

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