My husband and I went to the theatre last night to see Jersey Boys (which, by the way, is fantastic and you should immediately go see it – but be prepared to sing Sherry and Oh What a Night incessantly for the next 2 weeks). This experience, as well as a few other recent theatre nights has made it clear to me that people are either: profoundly stupid, incredibly rude, or entirely deaf and blind as not to be able to understand the basic rules of the theatre. So for their benefit (not yours, I know you would never behave like a buffoon at the theatre), I will review these rules, so we can all enjoy ourselves more at the theatre, and not be forced to shove an entire box of gummy bears down anyone’s throat. I’m a giver.
Rule #1: When the announcement comes over the sound system that says, “Please power off all electronic devices, including cell phones.” What they mean is TURN THEM OFF, YOU IDIOTS! They do not mean a) Put them on vibrate, b) lower the volume and hide them in your pocket, or c) Everyone turn them off, except for that one guy in row S! There are reasons why they ask you to turn them off. One – because no one wants to hear your stupid phone in the middle of the performance (I speak from experience here – last night, in a 10-foot radius around me, THREE cell phones went off. THREE! It’s a miracle I am not in jail right now), Two – because even though you have it on vibrate, no one wants to be blinded by your bright iphone screen in the darkened theatre. And Three – because cell signals can interfere with the signals on the wireless mics. Which interferes with my enjoyment of the show. Which could possibly interfere with my not punching you in the face.
Rule #2: When they say no photography, they mean NO PHOTOGRAPHY! No one wants to see your stupid camera phone in their view of the show. Or your digital camera. Or – god help us – your stupid flash! If you had a clue about basic photography, you would know that using that flash is only going to get you a nice shot of the big heads in front of you, and nothing of the stage. If photography isn’t completely off-limits, turn off the flash, turn off the preview screens and turn off the belief that you have the right to screw up anyone else’s view.
Rule #3: While we’re on the topic of those big heads in front of you – please – I am begging you not to wear a big ass hat or turban or anything else big on your head.
Rule #4: Shut up! No really, SHUT UP. If you have a lot to say, you either need to say it before the performance, after the performance, or during intermission. If you can’t manage to do this, then stay the hell home and wait until someone turns this lovely live performance into a crappy movie version. The guy behind me last night who had a 5-minute LOUD conversation with his wife during Act II had no idea how close he came to his untimely demise. Because, SHUT UP!!!!
Rule #5: While were to the topic of talking, let’s educate ourselves: This is a play. These are actors. It’s a made-up story full of made-up situations, not live-action. Therefore, they do not need you to warn them of something that is about to happen, they don’t need your advice, and all of us around you certainly don’t need “Oh no he didn’t!” after every twist and turn of the plot. Please see Rule 4 and shut up.
Rule #6: Open your candy before the show starts. I know you had time. I sat there as long as you did waiting for it to start, so I am positive that you had time to get that crinkly pack of Twizzlers open before shut up time started.
Rule #7: If you see someone you know a few rows away, feel free to wave and say hello. But I swear, if you continue to lean across your fellow patrons and yell about How’s Jim, and Vacation was awesome, and details of your colonoscopy, someone is going to hurt you. This goes for before the performance and during intermission as well.
Rule #8: Your drink is gone. It’s honestly, truly, completely, unequivocally GONE. No amount of slurping will change that.
Rule #9: This is not a baseball game – the plan to “sit here until the person who has this seat” comes along is not going to fly.
Rule #10: Don’t be a clapper. I’m begging you. Just because the song is catchy and has a nice beat doesn’t’ mean we all need to jump on the clapping bandwagon like a bunch of stupid, clapping sheep. Because it’s loud and drowns out the music, it’s annoying, and the song will change and you’ll be all confused about what to do. Because you are a stupid sheep-like clapper.
And most importantly,
Rule #11: Guess what? I know the songs, too! I do! I know the melody and all the words and I was in this production in high school and I remember it all!!!!! OMG, Yay me!!! But I also know that the people around me did not pay $75 a head to listen to me sing. Exactly like I did not pay to hear you sing. Even if you’re a great singer? Yes – even then. But guess what else? You suck at singing, so for the love of god, SHUT UP!!!!!!