Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Worst Ever

Oh my, “Urinetown.” What a funny, crazy, self-referential place to visit! I’d like to comment more on the musical but unfortunately, my most resonant memory from this show will be the worst audience experience ever. I’ve had bad audience experiences before. In fact, just this summer at “Odd Couple” at Hanover Tavern I was sitting right behind an unfortunate man with oozing, open sores on his bald head, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t also been sitting next to the woman with the worst halitosis in the universe. I felt less oogy – and less aware of bodily fluids – sitting through the movie “Dawn of the Dead” than through that play.

But for “U-Town,” the nemesis was behind us. My wife, my friend Jerry, and I were sitting in the second row, stage right. A woman two rows behind us had the most annoying, loud, high-pitched and persistent laugh ever. This woman must very rarely leave the house because she seemed delighted about everything from electricity to humans walking upright. The flow of the first act was like this: actor enters scene (woman starts tittering), other actor sets up joke (loud laugh), first actor delivers joke (screeching cackle), scene continues (small aftershocks of laughter until tittering begins again, punctuated by “oh my”s and other sighs of almost orgasmic delight). At no point in the show was there ever no sound coming from this woman. So, at least one person was overjoyed with “Urinetown.” However, everyone around her was annoyed as hell.

So, being a grown up and since the house was not quite full, our party moves to stage left for the second act, far away from the cackling, squealing theatergoer from hell. We park ourselves third row up from the stage and are delighted when the sound of titters are just a faint simmer of sound from the other side of the theater. The second act gets rolling and suddenly directly behind us, we hear a deep-voiced, “HA HA HA!” Yes, the male counterpart of Ms Titterer is right behind us. His rhythm is more like this: actor enters, other actor sets up joke, first actor delivers joke (man hollers “HA HA HA HA HA”), scene continues (man continues yelping “HA HA HA HA HA” overwhelming all succeeding dialogue…)

We looked at each other in disbelief. Were we just cursed? After the second outburst from Mr. Guffaw, we got up unceremoniously and moved to the back of the house. We were able to enjoy the rest of the show in relative peace. And we certainly did enjoy it. More on that in my next post…

But I just want to say, I know things can be pretty tough for you guys on stage sometimes. But it’s not always a picnic for us folks out in the audience either. Just so you know…


Anonymous said...

Oh my God Dave, what a funny damn story...well, I hope you think it's funny at some point down the road.

I had a similar experience this weekend. I went to a movie the other night with Dawn Westbrook (Death at a Funeral at the West Hampton). Anyway, as most theatre people know Dawn has a very loud, distinct and wonderful laugh. In a theatre I think her laugh is generally appreciated. Well I discovered that in a movie theatre it is NOT. We had people turning around giving us the evil eye for the entire flick. The funny thing was that Dawn never knew. She was having such a great time, and I started laughing at the different ways the folks around us reacted to her laugh. I hated the movie, but still had a good time hearing Dawn laugh and watching the show in the house!

I really need to get out more!

pnlkotula said...

Whoa, your title scared me. I know of what you speak. I think "guffawers" have good intentions, and feel they are showing support and encouragement. But it can be distracting.

And on the other hand, there are well known laughs around town that, if the cast knows they are in attendance and don't hear it, it can send an entire cast down in the dumpers. Sorry - poorly constructed thought, but you get my meaning. Sorry you didn't have a great time.

Anonymous said...

I find this really interesting, b/c most of us felt that Friday wasn't the best night...although we did hear the loud hooters and laughers you were talking about Dave. It would seem like the hooters, and guffaw-ers may have been more of a distraction to the rest of the audience than I thought. Although at times I was desperate for a laugh...when I would hear certain sounds from the house I would be like "what IS that?"

I have a pretty distinct laugh myself. I've tried to temper it over the years...even though people still say..."We heard you laugh and knew that Debra was here tonight!" But it's been years since someone got up and moved due to my laughter. Oh Dave, come back and see us again if you get a chance! LOL--hmmmmm. :-)

Dave T said...

Jacquie: I know Dawn's lovely throaty laugh well -- nice that it could turn a bad movie night into a fun experience!
Lisa: didn't mean to scare you with the title (OK, maybe I did a little bit... :->
Debra: I think the maniacal laughers on Friday did throw off the audience a bit. We talked to a couple of people around us who were very distracted by Ms. Titterer. And Mr. Guffaw was doing a number on the other side of the house. When one or two people are SO enthusiastic in their response, I think it can really deflate the rest of the audience. Hope those two didn't love the show so much that they keep coming back night after night! Yikes!

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

I do hope you'll come back and give our show another chance. Please help me justify my doctors bills...dancing with a chair strapped to your back is no small feat, and it's really hard on the lumbar region. :)