Don’t ruin the show for everyone else just because you want to sing along

If you glanced at the headlines, you’d be forgiven for thinking that singing and clapping have been banned at the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh.

Friday, 4th March 2022, 11:58 am

Here’s the news - they haven’t.

But the stories which surrounded a very small number of folk being asked to leave recent performances of Bat Out Of Hell have shone a light on our own behaviours, post lockdown.

I ended up on Stephen Jardine’s Radio Scotland show discussing theatre etiquette - and I’m aware that high falutin’ phrase is almost certain to turn people right off.

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Bat Out Of Hell

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I was at the opening night of the jukebox musical of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman’s songs.

Even before it started there was a clear appeal to “keep your best Meat Loaf impressions for the car journey home.”

I thought it was pitched perfectly - a polite way of saying dinnae sing along at lung-bursting levels like ole’ Meat once did.

Most folk got it - in fact on opening night I was only vaguely aware of some folk humming quietly along to one of those epic ballads, and it didn’t impede at all on the fabulous atmosphere.

But, some clearly didn’t listen, and decided that what Paradise By The Dashboard Light really needed was Colleene and her pals giving it their all at the chorus, while the couple along from them punched the air as if they were at a rock gig.

And that’s where etiquette and excitement collided head on.

My sympathies lie entirely with the staff trying to look after everyone, and the folk who have the misfortune to end up next to someone who doesn’t see the impact of their behaviours on all around them.

As a former usher back in the day when the Playhouse was a bona fide rock venue, I’ve seen the circle actually bounce as folk danced.

As a punter, I’ve survived gigs pinned to the front of the stage with my head in a speaker bin - couldn’t hear a thing for two days afterwards.

I once carried two stoned fans of the Grateful Dead in from the bar to enable them to ‘see’ a gig that lasted something like four and half hours.

But at a rock gig, you know folk will scream, sing, possibly spill a pint down you, and that perfect view you carved out for yourself will be obliterated by some man mountain of a bloke.

Theatre is different, and Bat Out Of Hell is the latter.

The star of the show isn’t going to turn to the crowd and yell “let me hear you Edinburgh!” - and while we all love the excitement of knowing every word to every song, no-one buys a ticket to hear my rendition of I’d Do Anything For Love.

The difference in perception of those asked to tone it down or leave, and those who wish they’d bought seats in the circle far away from the caterwauling is often very, very different.

Jukebox musicals are fantastic, feelgood shows with great soundtracks, but they still work best when you sit back and let the professionals entertain you.

And on the way home – that’s when you can give it laldy.

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