The Worst in Theatre Etiquette

We went to the Princess of Wales, a Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, last night to see Saturday Night Fever.  We were excited about this show, since we know several of the cast members.  And we had the best of the cheap seats – second row balcony, almost centre.  (I don’t like front row balcony – the brass (or whatever metal) railing almost always blocks my view of the stage.)

So we made ourselves comfortable, and shortly before the curtain went up, a group of six or seven middle-aged women came in and sat in front of us.  I love to see groups come to the theatre to have fun – we noticed right away that this gang was here for a good time as they were all wearing pink feather boas. Which is fine, but…

As my late, straight-laced, Baptist Great Aunt would have said “They were all full of hooch.”  So they came in with a lot of noise, all carrying drinks which were spilling left and right, with much confusion about who had which ticket and great commotion trading seats.

The poor usher was busy, telling them they could not throw their coats over the balcony railing.  They picked up their coats and put their programs, purses and drinks on the balcony ledge.  She told them they couldn’t put anything on the ledge, but they persisted.  (I wanted to tell them the story of the woman who put her child’s booster seat on the ledge during a performance of Kinky Boots.  It fell, injuring a patron below.  The show was stopped for 30 minutes while the ambulance came.)  So, yes, it was no surprise when one of the pink boas sailed down to the Dress Circle below.    There were literally feathers flying everywhere.  The pink boas were not of good quality.

One of the women went out to buy more drinks, stumbling back in, climbing over many patrons, just as the house grew dark.  In her defence, as well as drinks that I presume contained alcohol, she also had several water bottles under her arm.  She handed out the bottles, which they crackled loudly throughout the first act.

They started off enjoying the show, hooting and wooting.  I enjoy a good “woot” when the dancing and singing warrant it.  And let’s face it, Matt Alfano (he is starring as Tony in Saturday Night Fever) deserves a big “woot”, not only for his footwork but also when he’s wearing nothing but the briefest of briefs.  Unfortunately, these women were giving random hoots, not with the applause, and often at inappropriate times.

It wasn’t long into the first act when one of them had to go to the bathroom, which she announced in a loud whisper.  So out she went, disrupting patrons all the way.  Then a second one had to go.

To the Mirvish staff’s credit, they didn’t let the two return.

Finally, it was intermission – the ladies had a big discussion about where their friends were – not realizing that theatres often hold people back until an appropriate time.  The rest started to go out, and then one of them vomited on the floor – not in front of her seat, or her friends’ seats, but where another patron had been sitting.  Ok, sometimes people get sick – maybe she had the ‘flu.  But I’ve been going to 40 to 60 shows per year for the past 13 years.  That’s well over 600 shows:  I’ve never seen anyone throw up in a theatre before.  It was disgusting.

They all disappeared, leaving the mess behind.  The patron who was sitting there came back and summoned the Mirvish staff, who promptly cleaned up.

Suddenly, two of the woman returned grabbing all their friends’ coats, purses, and feather boas. (But not before those boas had shed feathers all over the seats and floor.)  A third came along and was told “we’re leaving” by the other two.  I don’t know if the Mirvish folks asked them to leave, or if they left on their own, but we were grateful.

Unfortunately, when Act Two began, we noticed other folks didn’t return.   A lady next to me had been “tsk, tsking” at the group – I assume she left due to their behaviour. Another couple who were sitting at the puke location were also not back – I hope the staff found them seats away from the foul stench.

These women had tried to turn their theatre outing into a party – which works well on many occasions.  But does Saturday Night Fever seem the right place for pink boas and drinks?  I guess they thought that the BeeGees’ disco music was their invitation for crazy fun, when in fact, the plot of Saturday Night Fever is dark and even depressing.  Not really a party atmosphere.  See my thoughts in my review here…

Finally, here’s a theatre etiquette rule to add to the list – come to the theatre for entertainment or challenging thought, but don’t come drunk!!!


Sign up here if you would like to receive notice when news, reviews, and musings are posted. You can unsubscribe at any time.