Dear people of Orlando,
You’ve been making great strides in the past few years, and I gotta say I’m proud of you. You are supporting local businesses, you are growing your own gardens and caring a bit more about where your food comes from.
You are supporting local artists and seeking out more culture. You are rallying around your local MLS soccer team; in fact you helped secure even getting an MLS soccer team.
You want your city to be bigger and better and become a more metropolitan place to live, and this city girl is all for that.
It disappoints me to say though, that some of you, are just not ready for a state-of-the-art performing arts center. Maybe you got comfortable at the lackluster ambiance and dank luxury of the Bob Carr, or maybe you just aren’t use to going out for a night on the town to enjoy a legitimate Broadway show.
Either way, my experience at my first show at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center let me know without a doubt that some of you still have some work to do.
Let’s start with the attire.
I’m not one to dress to the nines for any occasion. I live in jeans and t-shirts, but a night out at the theater should be viewed as a special occasion and a perfect time to ditch the crocs and flip flops. However that’s exactly what my eyes feasted upon as I walked through the doors last Thursday night prior to taking my seat for Beauty & the Beast.
Jeans, shorts, t-shirts, flip flops, barely-there lady shorts, were all burning my retinas as I walked through the crowds. There were a few people that knew the protocol and wore nice slacks and button- down shirts or dresses and nice skirts, but not many. I’m no Fashion Police, but really?!
You will pay up to $100 for a ticket to see a theatrical performance in an architecturally stunning building but all you can pull out of your closet is your finest Tommy Bahama Hibiscus print collared shirt and cargo shorts? Have a little more class and hide your shame like normal people.
Now your conduct.
As the theater lights flashed that the play was about to begin there were four empty seats next to me in the Orchestra Right section of the theater. I knew this was too good to be true and as the curtains opened, four thirty-something’s start crawling over me to get to their seats. I can look past the lateness, after all who knows what traffic they fought to get downtown, but what I could not overlook was them singing the opening number out loud.
“Little town, it ’s a quiet village, everyday like the one before….”
Were you singing that in your head as you read the lyrics?
Yeah I would say that is pretty normal, and singing it to yourself in your head during a live show would be appropriate as well. However to sit there as if you are in your own living room with Beauty and the Beast on in the background while you do laundry, and belt it out is not appropriate and quite frankly enough to make me go all DMX and lose my mind.
I tried my best to let their obvious excitement taper down, but it was clear I was going to have to regulate. I looked at the guy next to me and all I said was “Seriously?”
Our eyes met I stared at him and shook my head back and forth. His grin quickly faded and he whispered something to the girl next to him and they quieted down for the moment.
I want to say that this had to be the first experience for many of the people sitting around me of seeing a live show, because they could not contain their excitement. Any time a cool visual happened they loudly exclaimed Whoa or WOW! Or they just felt the need to narrate things as they happened to their friends. "Oh look there is Lumière" one lady exclaimed when he appeared on stage. The urge to kill was rising.
I did expect to see a few children at this show, especially being a Disney favorite. I didn't think I would have the most annoying child in the world sitting right behind me with parents that obviously were not passing any type of theater etiquette on to their spawns. This little girl looked all of 8, and she laughed at everything. Every. Thing. It wasn't a cute endearing giggle. It was a forced, ear drum shattering, nails on a chalk board, "sing out Louise" type laugh that happened about every minute. She laughed when no one else was laughing so there was no drowning it out among the crowd.
You may think I’m a jerk because I don’t want to hear the laughter of a child, and I’m ok with that.
To add a delicious layer of rage in my soul, she mimicked all the noises she was hearing on stage. When the Wardrobe was doing operatic voice exercises for Belle before she belted out a few gorgeously powerful notes, this little girl loudly did everything she was hearing on stage like a parrot you want to strangle. Kids are kids, and I certainly do not have my own to understand how difficult it might be to get them to remain relatively quiet, but her two parents did nothing and so my rage turned to them.
Did you see me that night? Did I look like this? Probably.
To add insult to deafening injury, the actual play itself was just OK. Belle was just as she needed to be and Gaston was probably the saving grace of the night, but the Beast…well someone took liberties with the Beast’s demeanor. They felt that his sad and dark story needed to lighten up a bit, and that it was the Beast’s job at some point to be a comedian, which I found very disturbing. At one point when he is asking an angry Belle to join him for dinner and she declines his barely polite attempt, instead of hearing a bellowing roar, he pauses and lets out a shriek so high pitched no doubt my dog at home a mile away heard it.
Then he begins to mimic her in his best attempt at a feminine voice. The audience laughed and my face cringed. This was not the beast of my childhood.
It was so out of character and wrong I could take no more and thankfully the intermission curtains rose right after Be Our Guest.
I had been excited for this play and I wanted so much to love it. To clap ferociously and to shout Bravo and Brava and give a standing ovation to talented cast grinning ear to ear with live performance endorphin's bursting through my very being.
Instead I left annoyed and deflated. With no Disney enchantment in my step.
The cast was talented and I'm sure any one who attends won't be quite as critical as I am being or perhaps they will have seat mates that have better theater manners, but for the price you pay to attend a show at the Dr. Phillips Center, you expect a certain experience, and mine left me never wanting to attend a popular Disney play again...unless perhaps...