My brother and I went to see Music Circus’ production of “South Pacific” on Saturday night. The show was lovely in pretty much every regard. Great acting, singing, dancing, sets, music, costumes—the whole package.
But I didn’t enjoy the show.
I’m pretty patient when it comes to interruptions at the theater. But the man sitting next to me at “South Pacific” was really something else.
This man has come to about half the shows at Music Circus each summer for the past few years. I think he and his wife share a pair of season tickets with another couple. I know that this was not his first time seeing a show.
This man came in with a plastic water bottle that had been frozen at some point and had a big chunk of ice floating around in the remnants of the water. He finished up the water, and then started shaking ice around to try to
irritate the hell out of those of us sitting near him(?) break it into smaller bits(?). If he’d done this during an applause break, I would have thought it rude, but not worthy of sparking a tirade. No. This man starts shaking the ice around, loud and unapologetic, during “Some Enchanted Evening.”
This same gentleman left his seat (requiring him to climb over my brother and me) during Act I twice. I understand the need to leave one’s seat for an emergency, but he appeared to be in no rush either time and came back from his second disappearance with a Merlino’s Freeze in his hand. He was also about 10 minutes late to seating for Act II.
He also had a big bag of Jolly Ranchers. Wrapped, of course. The slow, extended crinkling of little plastic wrappers throughout Act II was almost as bad as shaking the ice in his water bottle.
And he talked with his wife (loudly) throughout the performance.
And that’s JUST the man sitting next to me. There was also the woman two seats down singing loudly enough for me to hear her clearly, the person who snapped a couple of photos during the show with flash, the drunk man sitting in front of me who stumbled into a performance aisle while it was being used, and the two couples sitting behind me who would not stop talking at full-voice.
Come on, Sacramento. I know we can be better than this.
Sadly, I don’t really know what we can do about this problem. There are plenty of ideas floating around (I thought this article was interesting), but I don’t see a clear or easy-to-implement solution.
I can’t say that I only want seasoned theater veterans with good manners to see shows. That would result in empty houses. We will always need more arts patrons, and it’s incredibly important to be inclusive and welcoming.
But how can we educate audiences on etiquette without coming off as condescending and exclusive?
I have no clue.