Time to ban the self-entitled idiots in theatre audiences ruining shows

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Another theatre show ruined because a few individuals simply don’t know how to behave in public.

The disruption that one or two people can cause in an audience of several thousand is significant - and thanks to their immaturity and selfishness, everyone loses.

This week, a performance of The Bodyguard at a Manchester theatre had to be abandoned ten minutes before the finale because someone up in the balcony decided to belt out Whitney Houston’s iconic ballad ‘I Will Always Love You’ louder than the Melody Thornton could manage on stage - and the former Pussycat Doll had a mic in her hand.

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The show had already endured one interruption with folk singing along when explicitly asked not to. Appeals were made pre-show and staff held up clear signs before the curtain went up - a sight depressingly familiar at venues across Scotland these days.

Police outside the Palace Theatre in Manchester  (Pic: Tash Kenyon/Twitter/PA Wire)Police outside the Palace Theatre in Manchester  (Pic: Tash Kenyon/Twitter/PA Wire)
Police outside the Palace Theatre in Manchester (Pic: Tash Kenyon/Twitter/PA Wire)

For theatres to have to not only halt shows, but call police is a sad sign of the times, but let’s reframe this narrative. The cops weren’t called because someone sang, They were called because of the disturbance they caused in a packed auditorium.

The media have to bin the headlines that “singing is banned”, and theatre “security” are throwing folk out as if they were bouncers patrolling a nightclub. They aren’t. They are not only deeply misleading, but add to that nasty sense of self entitlement that the people causing the trouble carry in their pockets.

And shame on ITV’s This Morning for trivialising the matter with Vanessa Feltz and Alison Hammond laughing at the theatre, saying they’d just sing louder while Dermot O’Leary giggled like a stupid wee schoolboy. Next time they’re broadcasting live, let’s all talk loudly in their ear – cause hey, that’s what you do to get on telly. Idiots.

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Do they know the Playhouse in Edinburgh has had staff verbally and physically assaulted?

Clearly, appeals over the PA and messaging from staff aren’t getting through to a very, very small, disruptive minority. So, maybe it’s time to go further.

A personal appeal from the stars on stage? Possibly.

Speaking to theatre goers as they arrive rather than holding up signs? For sure - human interaction cannot be emphasised enough.

But, I’d go further. Anyone who interrupt a show with their pathetic anti-social behaviour - gobbing off, singing, being a moron - should be banned from buying tickets for any shows for that venue for, let’s say, 12 months. Let them explain to their kids that they can’t go to see Wicked as a Christmas treat because their mum or dad once had to be huckled out because they wanted to sing along despite being asked not to.

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The theatre will have their contact details and credit card info - simply put a block on them buying any seats at any future show. If someone else bought the seats and was caught up in the chaos, then the block can easily be lifted.Much as I loathe Ticketmaster and all their ilk, they could do us all a favour here with a blacklist of the bams...

With theatre tickets costing anything up to £80 a pop, it’s an expensive night out, and a special one for many people too - they may wait months to see a show only to have it wrecked by some eejit in the balcony acting like a stroppy, argumentative teenager.

The current abuse has to stop.

And those who cannot behave with courtesy and respect - simple qualities that cost nowt - need to be held to account.

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