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Oh, Those Audiences!

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  • adamunc
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    #434989

    This recent story about someone attempting to use an onstage outlet to charge a cell phone at Hand to God cracked me up:

    http://playbill.com/news/article/audience-member-tries-to-use-stage-outlet-to-charge-phone-at-hand-to-god-352658

    I have to say, I’ve been incredibly lucky with audiences. I counted up recently, and I’ve attended 76 Broadway performances in my lifetime. I can only remember two occasions when anyone interfered with my enjoyment of a show–two women at Phantom who were chattering in the stairwell after Act 2 started that I had to shush, and an old lady at the last revival of Les Mis who had horrible feedback in her listening device and didn’t seem to notice.

    But it got me thinking that some on this board who go a lot more often might have some entertaining stories…

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    Tony Ruiz
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    #434991

    I’ve got three in particular, and they were all while I was on stage in community theater.

    I was playing Kodaly in She Loves Me, and while I was sing “Grand Knowing You”, and very loud cell phone rang in the third row.  The guy sent the call to voicemail, but didn’t silence the phone.  The phone rang again.  Silenced it again.  It rang a third time, and just when I’m about to lose my mind, a guy in the second row turned around, grabbed the phone, and took out the battery.  At that point everyone onstage stopped and applauded the audience member.

    Two years ago, I was playing Billy Flynn in Chicago.  I was onstage as Mary Sunshine was singing “A Little Bit of Good.” The spotlight was on Mary Sunshine, and I was on stage left with my Roxie.  All of a sudden, a lovely old man who was about 130 years old got out of his seat and walked up to to me in the dark and said, “Can you tell where you buy your suits? I want one like that.”

    Then just last week, I was onstage as Magaldi in Evita.  And I almost had a Patti Lupone moment.  I guy in the third row had his cell phone out and was videoing the whole show.  It wasn’t even subtle.  But, not being Patti Lupone, I waited until i was offstage, and I let the stage manager know, and the young man was kindly escorted out of the theater.

    Oh the fun of the stage.

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    SamEckmann
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    #434992

    Recently I’ve had some terrible audiences. 

    The worst this past season was You Can’t Take it With You. The play was one of my favorites this past season, the audience the worst. It took a good 15 minutes for everbody to settle down and stop murmurring, coughing, sneezing, going through bags, etc in their seats. And some drunken middle aged hicks were seated in the Mezz, right before the show started. Despite being in a different seating section than I, I could hear them chatting to one another as if they were right next to me. Snippets include: “Wait, which one is James Earl Jones?” “I have to pee, is the bathroom nearby you think”, “I dont get it”, and most importantly: “god i need more booze. you still got some in your bag?”. Just about everybody in the Mezz shushed them to no avail (one furious women wheeled around and excalated it to “shut you goddam mouths NOW”). At intermission they demande more drinks, stumbled around the mezz, and kept commenting on how rude everyone was for not letting tem talk. Thankfully they realized they would have more fun elsewhere and left us all in peace for the remaining two acts. I told them to head to Chevys for sugary syrupy margarita happy hour. More their speed.   

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    SamEckmann
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    #434993

    Of course I’ve also spent many years as a Front of House Manager where I have been tossed aside (literally) by an amzonian russian woman who didnt believe she had tix for the ballet down the street, had a man threaten to knife me when I made him wait til a late seating break, cleaned up vomit from an old lady who couldnt hold her liquor at a holiday show (the show was stopped for half an hour you see, since her projectile hit everyone within a ten foot radius of her), halted an oscar winner’s performance to rush a man into an ambulance from the orchestra, discovered a used bedpan under a seat, and have been threatened to be sued so many times the phrase means nothing to me anymore. 

    Ah, the love of the theatre. 

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    KyleBailey
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    #434994

    We did The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at my local theater and I was an usher and came pretty much to every show and these old ladies started to leave their seats and very audibly said “This is such garbage” something along the lines of that when the Sheriff enters the first time and drops many F bombs. It was better than when my theater first did the show in the 90’s when nuns showed up and protested outside the theater. 

    My mom was the house manager for Cabaret when I was in it and she told me about this lady that came in before the show that bought a ticket and sat down in the theater and then went to the bathroom. A woman called the theater asking if her daughter was there and that was this lady and she came down and took her daughter home (and she was probably in her 20’s or 30’s not young). Some lady came up to my mom with a brown paper bag with alcohol in it and said “this was in the bathroom”. It was that lady’s.

    There are probably tons of other stories that I just can’t think of right now but those are two that instantly came to me

     

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    Anthony
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    #434995

    I have been lucky to not have some truly dreadful experiences on Broadway, and I have seen probably well over 70 or 80 shows in NYC over the years. I think the extent of my worst experiences stem from people who just feel like they can talk to the person in any audible sound above a whisper. I simply cannot take it….the worst example of this was fairly recently when I saw Honeymoon in Vegas in previews. There was a group of two couples, all middle aged and I overheard they were from Texas. They kept making comments throughout the show and also didn’t bother to even applaud for barely anything. Now granted, I was wasn’t the biggest fan of that musical but I always applaud in some capacity out of respect (and in that show, you had the great Rob McClure leading the way which is always nice). The other bad experience happened during intermission….I am someone who doesn’t really like to leave my seat to deal with the restroom (I guess you can say I was blessed with a good bladder…my partner, however, was not)….but we were trying to get out of our row to the left which was occupied by the four people from Texas. We stood there and waited for about a minute and they didn’t acknowledge a thing….finally the people next to us said “I know it is more of a hassle to go this way, but we will let you through”….I don’t even know if the Texas couples even caught it.

    One of my worst experiences in a Theatre occured in a regional production in Maryland of The Diary of Anne Frank. I was sitting in front of two elderly women…one of them must have been extremely hard of hearing and this company was a small non-for-profit that couldn’t provide any type of significant increased hearing aids. 

    Throughout the show, the one lady would comment on things (and since it is a very well known true story, play, and movie…I feel I can discuss without worrying about spoiler alerts…however I will be discussing the plot so beware)

    -The first comment happened near the beginning of the show. It takes place after the capture when the father returns to the attic after everyone died in the concentration camps. He shifting chairs around and then the lady comments “Why is he making noise? They are going to get captured!”….Now one may say that perhaps maybe she hasn’t read the diary or seen the play or movie before, but one comment she made prior to the show was how she has read or seen both versions multiple times so that makes this comment annoying on many levels if only for the fact she should’ve known and the fact she was already being a disturbance not even five minutes into the show.

    Mr. Dussel complains that Peter’s fall will lead to the thief from downstairs to telling the police of their captivity, so therefore the Audience member comments “That is actually what happens. The thief IS the one who gets them captured”…..if this weren’t such a well-known story, this would’ve been worthy of a punch in the face for being a spoiler.

    -Mr. Van Dahn wakes up in the middle of the night, lights a candle and proceeds to the kitchen. Audience member to her friend: “This is the scene where he steals the bread”. Thank you audience member.

    “Anne is dead. He (the father) was the only one to survive. The rest were killed”. Once again, thank you audience member.

    On top of everything, it was raining very hard outside to the point where (because it was such a small facility) that sound of the rain was overcoming everything (even to the point where they stopped the show in hopes for the rain to pass by). 
    ——————-

    Not live theatre but worth mentioning:

    -My partner and I went to a showing of Beauty and the Beast when it was re-released a couple years ago in 3D. About 10 minutes after the movie started (I think “BELLE” may have already ended), in true fashion, a group of younger people ranging from their 20s down to pre-teens rush into the theatre and run all the way to the top of the stadium seating conveniently where we were and proceeded to chat and discuss the movie and talk about random things….and also sing along at times. The most annoying was when they sang to the title song. At the very end, the eldest guy from the group proceeded to loudly clap to the point where I wondered not only what he was on but also how his hands must not have been burning after. 

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    Anthony
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    #434996

    Not to keep piling it on, but another story just popped into my mind:

    This was when I was in college several years ago…I think my freshman year. A touring company always came to our school every year with a new production and this particular year it was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and it was a very strong production.

    The biggest problem occured with people who were around my age behind me. As a theatre major, I went for a class that was requiring me to write a review but frankly I would have gone anyway because…why wouldn’t I?

    Then you had the two people behind me, who were members of one of the Theatre Appreciation classes that were considered requirements of every major (whether it be Art or Music or Theatre)…and they were also sent here to write a review apparently as they were somewhat sulking before the show.

    The show is around 3 hours long and it flew by for me and most of the audience obviously enjoyed it nicely…but these two people were already complaining how long the show was…..25-30 mintues in!!!! I was so baffled by how impatient they were and how their attention spans were so slight….it wasn’t like they were sitting through some overlong Brecht drama. I was so annoyed but also overcome with quiet laughter knowing they still had 2 1/2 hours to go. I think the guy fell asleep near the end but he did find Big Daddy’s sex jokes funny….no surprise. 

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    tylerbeals1
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    #434997

    My worst experience by far was when I went to see a tour of Annie here in Baltimore (my friend worked at the theater so I got a free ticket, I wouldn’t have paid to see that show haha).  So we were in the mezz, and before the show starts a huge group of teenage kids came in who obviously had no desire to sit through the show.  For the entire first act they talked, laughed at inappropriate times, and generally didn’t pay any attention to the fact a show was happening.  Thankfully enough I did complain to an usher as soon as the act ended and they moved our seats to one of the boxes which was cool, but I was so flabbergasted that the chaperones weren’t doing anything about these kids!

    I also saw the tour of Spring Awakening in Philly once, and the cutest little old couple sat in front of us.  They clearly had no idea what was about to happen, so my friend and I had bets to when they would leave.  They did wait until I Believe at the end of the first act to leave, but they left in the middle of the song.  We were pretty close in the Orchestra, so it was definitely distracting.

    Thankfully the audiences for every Broadway show I have been to have been kind.  The only person that kind of annoyed me was this woman who audibly sobbed through almost the entire show of Mary Poppins.  I heard her say at the end that it was her favorite movie and she couldn’t believe she was watching it live, but it was a bit excessive to me lol. 

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    David Buchanan
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    #434998

    This thread was made for news like this:

    http://www.playbill.com/news/article/lupone-strikes-back-grabs-texters-phone-at-shows-for-days-352944

    Formerly known in the forums as PianoMann.

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    Kadu335
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    #434999

    The only one I can remember right now was when I arrived 10 minutes late to one of the first previews of Sondheim on
    Sondheim at Studio 54 and the ushers made me seat in the back of the orchestra and wait until
    intermission to move to my actual seat near the stage. When I did it, 2 people seating right behind
    said I shouldn’t seat there because it wasn’t right taking a seat that I
    didn’t paid for only because it was empty. I told them that was my actual seat and they didn’t believe me and started screaming for an usher to take me out of my seat… When I showed them my ticket, man,
    the look on their faces was priceless haha

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    KyleBailey
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    #435000

    Oh lord, Playbill.com tracked down the guy and interviewed him. I think I lost a few brain cells reading it. 

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    KyleBailey
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    SamEckmann
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    #435002

    The whole cast already called her out. The only reason it’s “news” again is because Madonna denied that she was texting…but the cast and other audience members had a different story. I was seated down the row from her during Holler if Ya Hear Me, and she texted during that show too, though less egregiously than at Hamilton it would seem.

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