It’s no secret that I love live performances. There’s just something special about a performance that unfolds right before you. This past season I’ve gone to three Thibodaux Playhouse plays, five Broadway Across America musicals, and a Cirque du Soleil show. I’d say I was able to enjoy one of my favorite things this past year in abundance.
But at most of these performances, there are two shows. The one I pay for and the one that I don’t. I’m of course talking about the behavior of some of the audience members. And though I can’t say the audience has ever been more entertaining than the performances, in some cases it has come pretty close.
Maybe it’s because I’m an observer of people that I tend to notice people at what I hope is their worse behavior, but the point is I do notice. And at this past weekend’s performance of Million Dollar Quartet, I came up with a few items I think everyone should keep in mind when attending a performance because people are watching not just the performers. People are there after all to see a show, even the ones they haven’t paid for.
#1 You can live without technology for two hours. At the Cirque du Soleil show, a woman decided to spend much of the performance on her cell phone. Why, I’m not sure. I mean why pay good money to see a live performance and then remain on your phone the entire time? It doesn’t make sense to me. The side performance came in when the woman behind her asked her to turn her phone off. Contrary to cell phone addicts’ opinion, the light from those smart phones is distracting during a performance. The cell phone junkie didn’t appreciate being asked to conform to common decency, which led to an argument where she actually told the woman that she wasn’t going to put her cell phone away and she didn’t really care if it was distracting to her. (I have had to translate into a clean version. The woman’s actual word choice was much more colorful.)
We see this all the time these days. Go to a movie theater and see how many lights glow from the different cell phones in use even though the theater has cute ways of letting you know to turn the phones off. At Saturday night’s performance, a burly manger walked up and down the aisles barking at people to put their cell phones away, after the announcer had already asked the audience to turn them off. How can you really enjoy anything if you spend your time glued to your phone? But more importantly, if you can’t respect your fellow theater goers by remaining off the phone, then stay home.
#2 Arrive on Time. I have balcony season tickets to the New Orleans Broadway shows. I have the same seats each time I go, and those seats happen to be near an entrance. Every time the show begins and people arrive late to the show, they block my view of the stage as they stumble around in the dark unable to locate their seats. Now if they’ve decided the beginning isn’t worth the planning ahead to arrive on time that is their business. But I don’t want to miss a second of the performance and I’ve arrived on time so that I don’t. Common courtesy would seem to dictate that someone should be respectful of that. The beginning is usually worth arriving on time for anyway.
#3 Dress the Part. I absolutely love dressing up. I have a closet full of fancy clothes to prove it. It’s one of the reasons I love the Broadway series. People go dressed in their finest, and it is wonderful. That is except for this past Saturday night’s performance. Apparently, the sun setting later led people to believe that casual daytime wear was appropriate. I know we live in a casual era, and that many people will disagree with me about this one. I hear many comments about how people dress for church, with equal amounts of people on both sides of the shorts are okay vs. people should dress up issue. But where are our standards then? I want to have places to dress up for, and I believe certain places should be kept that way. Going to the theater should be one of those places as its long history indicates. I’d like to keep it as a place that I can dress up for and not have jeans and t-shirts or even that one guy in shorts Saturday night become acceptable.
#4 Stay to the End. At Saturday night’s performance, as in many others of the season, people are itching to leave. I’m sure it is to beat the traffic, which of course only puts them about five minutes ahead of the others and missing out on the end of the performance. But again, it is disrespectful because when you get up, others can’t see. Not to mention it is disrespectful to the actors that you are walking out on. At the end of Million Dollar Quartet, the play portion of the evening ended and many, many people got up and left, only to miss the entire concert portion of the evening where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Clive Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis came back onstage and performed fantastically, complete with sequined jackets.
Of course, there were many other things I observed during these season’s performances. These shows do attract an eclectic mix of attendees. In an unforgettable entrance, a young teenage girl had decided to wear stilettos that she’d obviously not practiced walking in. She fell on her butt going down the stairs only a few feet from me. There are all kinds of shows to keep you entertained. I already have my season tickets ready to go for next season, not to mention my Wicked tickets ready for a few weeks from now. I do love all kinds of entertainment.
What would you add the your list of annoyances?