“I used to be the king, the king of old Broadway…”
You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie, Max Bialystock. But Broadway isn’t exactly what it used to be either.
The Big Lipowsky journeyed to New York last night to see “Young Frankenstein” and while the show was excellent, the behavior of my fellow audience members left me cold.
Remember when people used to dress up for Broadway shows? Tuxedos and evening gowns, or at the very least suits and other formal wear, abounded. Up until about two years ago, The Big Lipowsky wore a tie and jacket to The Great White Way. While I left the tie at home last night, I still wore business casual clothes that looked neat and clean. Others, however, walked in wearing jeans and sweatshirts.
Once the epitome of class and elegance, Broadway seemingly has become home to glorified movie theaters where concession stands in the lobby hock overpriced wares while ravenous show-goers crinkle candy bar wrappers during the show. OK, so Broadway isn’t nearly as formal as it once was. Not such a big deal, right? The shows themselves are still high quality. Unfortunately, as the dress code lowered, apparently so have other standards of decorum.
During the performance, the woman sitting next to me – who definitely should have known better – felt that her text messaging just couldn’t wait for the end of the show. The glow and tapping beside me was punctuated by her random exclamations of “Oh no,” “Oh God,” and “Wow.”
Just a few minutes after the start of the second act, she was again typing away when an usher asked her to put the phone away. Sure enough, a few minutes later she was once again typing furiously. When I turned to her and asked her to put it away, she made a snide remark about how she didn’t have to listen to me because I had been a minute late returning from intermission. Apparently long bathroom lines excuse utter rudeness during a performance.
She left shortly after, whether for an empty seat in the back or altogether. I don’t know but I was happy to have one less distraction. Unfortunately, there were others.
A group of four or five college-age women sitting behind me were chatting, crinkling candy wrappers, and kicking my seat throughout the performance.
Not only is this behavior disrespectful to fellow audience members trying to enjoy the show, it is disrespectful to the actors who work hard to entertain us.
And now for the Jewish connection.
Excessive talking is not just limited to the theater. It’s in our synagogues, too. Rabbis and gabbais (and bears, oh my!) increasingly have to pause services because the murmur from the crowd has grown too loud. Instead of Barchu, the conversation on the latest baseball score has taken center stage.
Whether sports, business, or shul politics, talking during services shows the same disrespect to others as talking during the theater. Except in shul it detracts from praising God – the whole reason we are there in the first place.
I admit, The Big Lipowsky is not entirely innocent in this area. But it’s something we all can and should work on. Whether at the movies or ma’ariv, talking should be limited to what’s absolutely necessary and then kept at a whisper.
Now, on with the show.