Thursday, April 04, 2013

Down in Front

Recently on a ship I was doing my show. Two seats in the middle of the first row were unoccupied. There is a rule about holding seats for friends so I could not understand why theses primo places were not taken since the rest of the row was filled.  It came the moment when I was ready to call the cue for Darwin's closing number.  It also happens to be the closing number to my 55 minute set.
It was then that I saw a middle aged lady walking down the asile and making her way to one of those unoccupied front seats.  It was impossible for anyone NOT to see her especially me, but she was unfazed. Instead of sitting down immediately she continued to stand. Turning her back to the stage,  she began to wave her arms feverishly to someone or something in the back of the theatre. She would wave her arms and point to the empty seat next to her, continue to look backwards and repeat the motion. I believe she was trying to signal to her companion that she had found two good seats down front.  The problem was... everyone could see her, *except* the one person she was trying to signal. 
Here is a show biz hint.... never do that when there is a performer on stage with a talking monkey. Darwin ripped into her with all his simian fury and to the delight of the audience who had been watching the show from the first. Like any good comedian when the audience starts laughing, the one liners start coming, Darwin is no exception.  It was what we call a roll, the perfect storm.  The audience laughter feeds on itself and almost anything becomes funny.  Darwin milked it as long as theatrically possible and when I thought the audience and the late arriving lady had experienced enough, I called for the final sound cue.
The song lasts two minutes, which was exactly the time needed for the woman's companion to see her and make his way to the front seat beside her. He, too, was oblivious to anything happening on the stage three feet above him and without regard to the performance reached the seat on Darwin's final note. He had the best seat in the house for a show that was now over. 
Like it was a silent movie bit, he sat down just as the audience was rising to give me a standing ovation. I took the final bow. He was the only one sitting. Like the eunuch at a whore house he looked around wondering what was going on. 
In a world where most of our entertainment is passively delivered on a screen ranging in size from IMAX to iPhone, people can forget that there is still an art form called theatre. That's where real people perform in real time.  No rewinds, no pause button and more importantly to late arrivals no hiding from the action. So.. if your desire is to watch a show from the first row and it it open seating get there early. If you can't do that prepare to be skewered by a monkey who does not take hostages. 
As you were,
Jay

3 comments:

P. Grecian said...

Love it!
How about when they start talking as if the show is a TV set? I've had THAT!
Or when the audience is close enough that they LAY THEIR PROGRAMS ON THE STAGE APRON. A musical I did once allowed me to sing, move down toward the apron and kick the programs off into their laps. :-)

Sean Cutler said...

Wish I had been there! Darwin must have torn her to shreds.

Tracy said...

LOVE IT! I can't believe how ignorant people can be when it comes to manners in this venue!

We watched a friend of ours, Basile, perform the other night at Thalian for a fundraiser. He is nationally know but lives here and does a rare hometown performance. He has a pretty cutting wit (he scares me when we are hanging out personally as that wit is always present, lol). Before the show started two teenage boys sat down in back of us and proceeded to say, "ha, we will get this guy, I am going to heckle him." I was so glad when they didn't do it because they were out of their league! They had no idea how lucky they were!