Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Theatre Etiquette Time

Okay, I've held off long enough. Theatre etiquette time.

A few folks have told me that the name of this blog would suggest someone who will only see shows at the Fox or "highbrow" intellectual stuff. Nope. Don't get me wrong, I love the Fox -- it's an absolutely beautiful space, but good heavens it's big. (That's what she said…)  I like small intimate theatres. And as far as intellectual shows go, I'm still waiting for someone to explain Bertolt Brecht to me. I mean, I think I get it, but the only Brecht show I've seen was a tad over my head, and not the greatest production in the world, so I left the theatre a little confused.

Anyway, a more appropriate title for this blog could be "St. Louis Theatre Etiquette Police".  When my friends suggested I start a blog, we thought it would mostly consist of a little good-natured berating of St. Louis audiences for their random atrocious behavior. Little did I know I'd actually start kind of reviewing shows, which I have fallen in love with doing, but tonight, I feel compelled to call out some stuff.

Here we go.

So, you turned the ringer off on your phone. Yay. Good for you. BUT -- if you take it out and mess with it during a performance, it's:

1.  Distracting to your fellow audience members.

2.  Annoying to the performers. Yes, they can see your stupid illuminated face in a darkened theatre.

3.  Just really kind of rude. You can text your buddies at intermission.

Please don't leave during the curtain call. This is your chance to show the cast members and orchestra how much you appreciated their performance. I can't tell you how many times I've been to a show at the Fox where there's been a mad dash for the exit at curtain. Dude -- your Buick isn't going anywhere, and there's gonna be traffic regardless. Don't be a dick.

Another thing-
It's okay to laugh during a show. There seem to be so many unresponsive audiences here, I'm beginning to think it may be a St. Louis tradition to take a quaalude before a show. Alice Ripley once told me (That's right…  I'm talking about the Tony winner. We chatted while I was at the stage door to get an autograph for my Next to Normal playbill in NYC. What?!) it's nice when the cast gets some reaction from an audience. After all, they're laying it all out there for us, right? Even if it's uncomfortable laughter, any reaction is better than dead silence, unless there's some intense shit happening onstage. Then dead silence lets them know you're paying attention…  and not checking your phone for the time. Again, illuminating your stupid face in a darkened theatre.

In addition-
It might be a good idea to read a little synopsis of the show before you see it. If I had a dollar for every parent I saw with small children in tow who walked out of Avenue Q because they were shocked at the adult content. Really?!? They were like, "But it has puppets in it!". Uh, yeah. Puppets having sex. And a song about internet porn. Unless you're a die-hard theatre lover who's up for anything, read a review dumbass.

And lastly-
As the tagline for this blog suggests, the Overture is part of the show. It gives us a little preview of the music we'll be treated to during the performance. I for one enjoy listening to it -- having it serve as a time when I can get my mind ready to take the ride. So when it's playing, please shut your pie hole.

Okay, one more thing-
And this is one of my favorites -- the show has started. Shut the fuck up. A brief comment to your neighbor is one thing, but carrying on a conversation during the show is another. And for some of you Muny folks -- I didn't pay to hear YOU sing along.

This shit drives me crazy. But needless to say, these are just my opinions and observations, but let's hope I don't have to bring this up again, k?

Thank you, goodnight, and go see a show!


  1. Good post, so true. Someone really needs to print t-shirts with these rules and wear them to the theater.

    Do doctors still prescribe Quaaludes?

  2. Ha! I like that idea. A t-shirt...
    I'm certain they must still prescribe quaaludes. Just check out the St. Louis doctors. Tell them you're going to a show.
    Thanks for your comment, Wendell!

  3. Regarding taking kids to inappropriate shows: many moons ago, when the first national tour of "Sweeney Todd" (with, as I recall, George Hearn and Angela Lansbury) came through St. Louis it played, due to the vagaries of scheduling, on Easter weekend. Our tickets were for an Easter Sunday matinee and darned if there weren't a bunch of parents there with the little tykes all decked out in their spring finery to see a nice family musical.

    A bunch of them left at intermission. Well, actually, a bunch of them left after "There's No Place Like London", but you get the idea.

    You'd think the full title - "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" - would be a giveaway. But apparently some folks just assumed that any musical had to be family fare and didn't bother to find out what they were going to see.

  4. First of all Chuck, I'm jealous you got to see SWEENEY with George Hearn and Angela Lansbury.
    Second, I laughed out loud thinking back through that song, and some of the things that the Beggar Woman says. HA! Ho boy...

  5. Good points, all! People are constantly forgetting that live performances are LIVE! With real humans in real time!

  6. Love this! Totally agree on all points!

  7. Yes, yes, and yes! I would also add "Just turn your damn phone OFF." In those small, intimate spaces you like so well we can hear the buzz of the vibration (assuming those are phones I've been hearing and not other vibrating things). Plus, turned all the way OFF means you won't be tempted to use it/look it/sniff it during the show.
    Like I said on Facebook, we refer to that mad dash as the St. Louis Standing O. ;-)

  8. Ha! "the St. Louis Standing O"... Nice. But then again, there are plenty of those obligatory standing o's out there anyway, but that's another post, maybe... :D And just turning your phone all the way off is the way to go, I think too. Like you said, too many intimate theatres in town to risk the buzzing. Of, whatever might be buzzing.

  9. "Again, illuminating your stupid face in a darkened theatre." Love that! Turn it off! leave it in your vehicle! so annoying those people.