No, not 'especially where dancing is concerned', as Danny Kaye muses in a musical number called "Choreography" in the classic film "White Christmas".
I'm talking about theatre etiquette. But before I go off on that mini rant, let me first tie it in to my experience at the Fox on Sept 22nd, when Jake and I went to see "Wicked".
As I've mentioned (a million or so times, by now), my first date EVER was to see "Phantom of the Opera" at the Fox Theatre. So that I don't repeat myself (much), here's my previous post on the Fox.
My Review of the Show:
1. Vantage Point: There are no "bad" seats in this venue. Period. I've been in there a dozen times, and all dozen I have had the privilege of sitting in a different section than the other times. The ONLY problem that I had with our seats for "Wicked" was that the balcony overhang slightly obstructed my view of the full set, so I didn't get to see the Time Dragon thingie billow steam from his nostrils, flap his wings, roll his glowing eyes or loll his head around. Though cool effects, none of that is pivotal to the plot. From our seats, I got to see every one of the actors, at all times.
Financially, we are on the bottom rungs of the societal ladder. I think we might be that bottom "safety step" thing that can't even really be considered an actual rung. But anyway. It took us 2 months to set aside money for tickets. $60 (+tax and processing fees) per seat, plus $20 to park, plus dinner out, plus something nice to wear, gas to get there, and a small souvenir mug, put us back somewhere around $300. That's a lot of money. But for a date night out to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary, it was worth it to us. These were the cheaper seats in Orchestra, which ensured we could go without getting put in the last row of the balcony where we'd have to install a telescope on the back of the seat in front of us in order to see the details on the costumes. (I'm fairly certain the Fox has a "no construction of telescopes" policy somewhere in their rulebook.) Closer seats, like the ones I saw PTO from the first time 15 years ago, now run $150 each. We just don't have that kind of money to spend on one night out. So, yes: for the value, the vantage point was awesome.
2. Sound: I will admit that I was a bit disappointed that the sound didn't carry as well, under the balcony as we were. It was alright, and I didn't actually miss anything that was said (I don't think I did, anyway.) But a few times I found myself straining to hear quiet dialogue, as though a mic wasn't on somewhere. And "Defying Gravity" should always, always be cranked up just about as loud as it can go without actually making people deaf. Just sayin'.
3. Costumes: Hello, people!!! I'm a costumer! (No, NOT 'customer', costumer. One who sews and creates costumes!) This is a Broadway musical!!! This is a Broadway musical that WON a TONY AWARD for best costume design in 2004. There are over 200 costumes in this show and I kept having to find a bucket to drool in with every scene change!!! Here is an amazing page about all of the Wicked costumes from Stephen Schwartz's website for you to peruse at your leisure. And here is a photo of me, before the show, with Glinda's "Bubble Dress" from the original show, that was on display in the front windows of the Fox. This is me turned around for the brief moment of taking the photo. The rest of the 5 full minutes he allowed me to linger, I was pasted up against the display like a kid at Christmastime, leaving nose and fingerprint smudges on the glass. If it hadn't been raining, I would have forced Husband to take photos of me with Elphaba's and Madame Morrible's costumes too!!! WANT!!! :D
Check out these breathtaking creations from the show too!!!
4: Plot/Acting: Easy to follow, without being boring in any way. Engaging and heartfelt. Professionally well played by amazing actors. Hilarious one-liners! My favorite scene was the "cat fight" after Nessarose's unfortunate run in with the farm house, and this exchange between Elphaba and Glinda:
Glinda: "What have you been doing anyway, besides riding around on that [gestures to Elphaba's broomstick] filthy old thing?"
Elphaba: "Well. We can't ALL come and go by BUBBLE!"
5: Recommend/See again? YES! I'm tossing all of my change into a jar (not even kidding) so that by the time Wicked comes round again to the Fox (next year?! Please, Mr. Vella, please!!!), I'll have the extra saved up to go ahead and splurge on those 5th row Centre Orch seats that I wanted so badly but couldn't afford this time around. Definitely. Going. Again!
Now that I've given my glowing review of the show, here is that little rant about the other patrons.
Hey, my generation-ish aged (and a little younger, like 20s or so) people who go to the Fox to see evening performance musical plays: You do know this isn't like TV, right? That the stuff going on up there on the stage is not prerecorded and that the real live people who have spent their time and energy giving you a few hours of entertainment can also see you sometimes. I'm talking to you, girl 2 rows up and a couple seats over who would not leave her cell phone closed. The backlight on your phone was like one of those Hollywood searchlights. No one needed Batman; TURN OFF THE BAT-SIGNAL!
To the other 200 people (mostly women) taking your sweet time in the restroom: the intermission is only 15 minutes. It doesn't take that long to go pee!!! I don't care how many drinks your date got you during the first Act! (I'll get back to that in a second...) And you other people (also mostly women) who cut through the little cafe area there and back down the stairs on the other side to "merge" in with the line for the potties? That's still cutting!!! Also, coming back from the restroom, you hanging out in the doorways and not letting people through cost me the first song of the second act because I couldn't get back to my seat. Being short, I couldn't even see it from the back of the house until the ushers took the rope down and let the 300 or so late-to-return-ers back in. I missed Glinda's "Thank Goodness" number, with the cute one-sleeve angular cut dress.
Yeah, that one. That was rude of you. It really was.
What was with people getting up at random to get a beer?! Seriously! This guy in the row in front of us got up in the middle of "One Short Day" and came back about 5 minutes later with a beer for his girlfriend!!! This is not TV, people! Remember what I said a minute ago?? The actors (and everyone else trying to watch the show) can SEE you getting up, scootching past all the people in your row (blocking my view while you do it, thanks) and walking out. What is wrong with you?! Randomly through the show you'd hear empty cups being knocked over on the floor. How is the beautiful Fox going to stay pretty and clean if you're bringing in food and drinks like it's your local Cinema 18?!
I remember when you weren't allowed to take food and drink into a fine arts theatre. I still don't, and I wish you wouldn't either.
Lastly, even the inexpensive seats were a $50 date. At least. So what is up with you not being bothered to put on appropriate clothes? Cut off jeans and t-shirts with flip flops? Really?? This is live musical theatre! I understand that not everyone may be able to afford a tux and an evening gown. But you dressed up for prom, didn't you? Isn't this at least fairly comparable?? Do you not care at all? (Obviously not, but this is a rant, so let me fume!)
Jake and I worked hard to save up the money for tickets. This was an evening show at the classiest venue in Atlanta. We wanted to show our appreciation to all of the people, from our dinner waiter to the ushers who helped us find our seats to the actors we saw as we left the show, that we appreciated their efforts to give us a nice evening out. So we dressed to the nines.
7 years of being married to a photographer, and I still can't get Jake to relax in front of a camera. Sigh.
Anyway. We looked hot. We were on time to the show when the overture started and the curtain rose. We didn't get up during the show, except at intermission. We didn't lean our heads together and talk. We put our cell phones on silent and didn't get them out until we got back to the car. We gave a well deserved standing ovation at curtain call. We tried to show grace, courtesy and class to the actors, Fox staff, and other patrons. (Well, except for maybe those 5 minute stints with my nose against the display glass, like I said earlier. Admittedly, that may or may not have exactly exuded "class". But at least it was outside the theatre.)
Wicked the musical was a wicked good date night! Thanks, Fox Theatre! Top marks again! :)