Sunday, March 22, 2009

You can talk at home for free

Why did the woman in the row behind us feel the need to narrate everything that was happening onstage to her teenage son? He could see and hear. He seemed to be of average intelligence. And it's not like In the Heights is all that hard to follow. Sure, there's a lot of Spanish, but this woman didn't seem to know any Spanish (thank God). She was describing the most obvious things, and doing so out loud. And I mean loud -- not even in a normal conversational tone, but louder, since she was trying to make herself heard over the show that was happening onstage. For me, the final straw came during "Benny's Dispatch," when Benny made reference to the "GWB" and I heard this woman shout, "...THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE." I was like, Lady, I'm sure you're very proud of yourself for knowing the lingo, but it's not crucial to the plot, so maybe you could refrain from showing off to your child until the show is over.

Of course, when I say that was "the final straw," all I mean is that's when I decided not to feel bad about turning around and giving these people a dirty look. But as you might have guessed, they weren't the type to notice or respond to dirty looks (and they were getting a bunch from the people sitting much closer than I was). Quite frankly, I'm not sure this lady realized there were other people present. So the patter kept up, all through the show. And I kept thanking God that In the Heights is such a loud show. Although, once I thought about it, I realized I'm not sure where to draw the line between cause and effect: was it the volume of the show (and the actors' mics in particular) that made this woman feel like it was OK to yell whatever came into her head? If she'd been doing that in a quieter theatre, the whole audience would have been shushing her after the first ninety seconds. On the other hand, maybe consistently noisy audiences are the reason the show's volume is turned up so high. This possibility occurred to me as we settled in for the second act, and I could hear a woman across the aisle open a bag of chips (why in the world would a theatre sell people chips?!) and start munching loudly. Then her cell phone rang, and she had to rummage through her bag to turn it off, making the bag of chips go crinkle, crinkle. Then back to eating. And then the phone rang AGAIN. I was just about ready to throw my program at her when the orchestra really kicked in... and after that I couldn't hear her anymore.

Speaking of obnoxious behavior at musicals, The Onion has a truly harrowing account of a situation I think we can all relate to: Oh No, Performers Coming Into Audience. Shudder.

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