I’m sick of Broadway audience members acting like jackasses


Curtain up! Light the lights! Now shut your traps.

As audiences have returned to Broadway, they have simultaneously morphed into cavemen — drinking to belligerent excess, causing loud ruckuses and, in some previously unimaginable instances, they’re even becoming violent with helpless ushers.

The trend toward theater anarchy is abhorrent, and unfortunately on the rise. Rule abiders are spending $200 or more to have a bunch of mannerless dirtbags selfishly ruin their well-earned night out. And, at the same time, Broadway employees’ lives are being made a living hell.

In December, a wacko woman made headlines when she interrupted a performance of “Death of A Salesman” at the Hudson Theatre — completely stopping the show. Unhinged and angry, she stormed the stage during Act 2 and demanded her money back from star Wendell Pierce. The lights came up, and eventually the cops arrived to escort her out.

At “Death of a Salesman.” Good lord.

Truly, the halcyon days of Patti LuPone and Richard Griffiths shouting at people for using cell phones are now looked back upon as more quaint than “Anne of Green Gables.” 

However, these troubling new incidents aren’t only loony — some are downright abusive.

A woman loudly interrupted the Broadway play “Death of a Salesman,” stopping the show and forcing star Wendell Pierce to intervene.
Twitter / @robertstein100

Last week, a controversial story in Playbill reported depressing accounts from several front-of-house staff, one of whom said they had been “spat on, shoved, had my ass slapped and been screamed at more times than I could count” by despicable spectators. Another recalled how they were stalked by an irate patron to the subway train after the show.

Playbill’s clueless CEO Philip Birsh ordered the story be taken down because, as he told the Daily Beast, “We want people to go to the theater. This piece exaggerated the issue in my opinion.”

Is he running Playbill or Pravda?

Anyway, Birsh is wrong. Usher horror stories are easy to find, and anecdotally, more audience members than I have ever experienced before are talking loudly, getting angry and barging in and out of the theater during the show as they please. It’s chaos.

Hilariously, one whole day after “nothing to see here!” Birsh declared rowdiness a non-issue, across the pond in London, the West End and Broadway theater chain Ambassador Theatre Group was reported to be ceasing the use of grabby marketing phrases such as “the best party in town” and “the show will have you dancing in the aisles” because overserved ticket buyers are taking them quite literally.

“We’re taking a multidisciplinary approach to tackling challenging audience behavior,” an ATG rep told the Guardian.

Somehow I think people, not the posters, are the problem.

In London, West End theaters are marketing their shows to avoid misconceptions that they are actual parties.
In London, West End theaters are marketing their shows to avoid misconceptions that they are actual parties.

Most talking heads chalk up the rise in rudeness to lingering psychological side effects of the pandemic — pent-up anxiety, diminished social skills, forgetting they’re not at home, etc. Makes sense.

But Broadway has been reopened for more than a year. It’s high time we stop making convenient excuses for disrespectful idiots, who cannot accept the fact that not every single moment of the day is all about them. Sorry, nobody has the “right” to act any way they want anywhere they want.

Lockdowns were a collective experience for billions, so why attempt to understand and sympathize with the one lout who disrupts a show, or goes loco at an upscale restaurant or forces a flight back to the gate? They’re awful people — ban them. Trained security guards, not ushers, should be on the premises to kick these losers to the curb.

If you can’t behave like a reasonable, decent adult on Broadway, head to the Dave and Buster’s on 42nd Street instead. Or, better yet, stay home.



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