'It Was a Dark and Stormy Night on Broadway...' Readers Share Audience Horror Stories!

Whatever happened to theatre etiquette? It's a question that many theatre-goers have been asking themselves in recent months, as stories of carelessness, rudeness, and just plain craziness have made their way to the internet.

For years now, cell phones have been a culprit of many mid-show disturbances, and it seems that the trend isn't fading away anytime soon. Earlier this spring, HAMILTON's Lin-Manuel Miranda banned Madonna from coming backstage after she spent most of of the show on her phone. This summer, a patron stormed HAND TO GOD's stage on Broadway in search of an outlet to charge his phone, while a week later, the legendary Patti LuPone snatched a theatre-goer's phone mid-performance of SHOWS FOR DAYS Off-Broadway.

The recklessness continues. Earlier this week during a performance of THE FIX at D.C.'s Signature Theatre, a woman stormed the stage yet again... this time in search of a restroom. She reportedly used the backstage bathroom before being promptly escorted to the lobby by house staff.

With this kind of audience misbehavior seemingly taking over the world, we thought it fitting to ask our readers about some of their own Audience Horror Stories. Check out the list below and brace yourself...it's about to get scary.

Audience member charges cell phone
onstage at HAND TO GOD

Erin Hughes: A phone went off during the final scene of the recent revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and I'm still surprised Amy Morton didn't comment on it at curtain call. It absolutely shattered the moment for the rest of the audience. Morton was still visibly angry during curtain call, which is why I expected her to say something.

Jeff Germann: My wife and I went to see Phantom a few years ago and this one family decided to bring their dinner to the theatre. Fried chicken wrapped in tin foil(unpleasantly loud) along with rice that was being passed around. Nothing like trying to enjoy a show with tin foil and plastic being manhandled two rows in front of you, eh?

Austin Kulyk: When I was in Godspell, we did school matinees. One performance we performed for a group of catholic 7th and 8th graders. It was the end of the show, and Jesus goes over to Judas. He kisses Judas, and the crowd goes wild because a guy kissed another guy. It was so disrespectful.

Rachael Ellis: My school was putting on Stage Door. We had signs all over the lobby saying not to take pictures or record the show. This woman sitting in the front row sets up this *giant* tripod for her iPad to record the show. You could see it all the way from the back of the house. Needless to say, the ushers had to ask her to take it down. She grumbled, but she did comply.

Patti LuPone snatches phone
from audience member

Dana Beers: I was at Something Rotten a couple weekends ago. There was a man behind me who spent the entire intermission complaining about how bad he thought the show was and how he could write better. He then proceeded to make loud complaining noises throughout the second act and "whisper" negative comments to the people around him.

Harrison Stringer: I was at Finding Neverland earlier this summer, and a woman not only came into the theatre 20 minutes late and was seated right in front of me, but halfway through Act 1, she made a phone call. In her seat. Didn't even bother to step out. One of the rudest things I've ever seen.

Heather MacLaughlin Garbes: When the pit was just an alcove near the theatre entrance, my husband had a woman tell him to slide over so she could sit on his piano bench WHILE he was playing the overture to A Funny Thing...Forum.

Justin Gallagher: Probably the person beside me messing with her phones flash light during DEFYING GRAVITY at Wicked.

Valerie Godowsky: I was in Rear Mezzanine for If/Then and a old guy nearby fell asleep the second and snored SO LOUDLY that I could barely hear the show. If you want to sleep, then stay home in your bed!

Christine Stone: Phantom Of The Opera. Sitting in the 5th row stage right. An elderly Russian woman during a dark quiet moment in the first act her phone rings. LOUDLY... She plays with her BRIGHTLY LIT PHONE inside her purse. Then, same thing happens AGAIN. I looked at her and TOLD her to turn her phone off. She shakes her head NO to me. No ushers. No security. NOTHING. Wasted almost 300.00 on my ticket. I left after complaining to the head usherette. She said nothing can be done as she abs the rest of her lazy non working crew sit on their faces staring into their mobile phones in the very front area inside the double glass entrance doors. I was angry and very ticked off.

Think you've got an Audience Horror Story that tops them all? Tell us in the comments section!



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