Theater Lovers, Avert Your Eyes!

, , , , , , , | Friendly | May 22, 2020

Some years ago, a friend and I had tickets to see The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway. We went with one of those bus tours and got to the theater early so we could take our seats and be comfortable.  

And then two things happened.

Incident one:

About ten minutes from the opening curtain, two gentlemen came to our aisle and began to argue with the women sitting next to us in the aisle. The women were in their seats and the men wanted them to get out. They debated the point — all of them leaning over us and getting tenser and more irritable as the debate went on — for several minutes until an usher was called over.

The usher looked at the men’s tickets and said, “You are correct. Those would be your seats… if you were coming to see The Scarlet Pimpernel. Unfortunately, your tickets are for The Lion King which is at the New Amsterdam theater.”

The men argued a few more seconds and then finally took off running. My friend and I and the ladies beside us couldn’t help but wonder out loud how you can see the name “Minskoff” and read “New Amsterdam” or read the name of the musical and mistake it for another.

We all settled back in. A loud buzz of voices started up behind us. Everyone in the theater looked back to the balconies where a large group of high school students was taking their seats. No problem. Schools bring kids to the theater all the time. They usually quiet down as soon as the play starts.

Not these kids.

The theater probably did themselves a disservice when they announced that “This performance has been selected to be taped for airing on PBS later this year. We ask the audience to please be on their best behavior.”

Almost immediately, the kids in the balcony started shouting random words and screaming at each other, and their teachers did nothing to stop them.

As the play began, it was almost impossible to hear the actors’ words or enjoy the music as the kids in the back continued to sing loudly — other songs, not the songs in the play — and shout out suggestions to the actors during quiet periods.

At one point in the performance, the characters gathered to quietly plan a coup and, even though we were sitting in the ninth row, we could not hear a word they said. Suddenly, at that point, the cast all stood up from their positions, went to the front of the stage, and said “SSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” The audience joined in and we all waited until the kids were silent before the play resumed.

I took a quick look back at the balcony: two ushers were up there speaking with the teachers. Before the act was over, the balcony had been cleared and the rest of the play took place without incident.

I am sure the kids were screaming in hopes of seeing the play on TV and hearing themselves ruining the experience for everyone else. I have to wonder what kind of pea-brained little snot thinks that’s an appropriate thing to do. More to the point, I wonder why the teachers didn’t think it was their responsibility to shut the class up.

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