I was house managing at Civic last night when, during intermission, a couple of women came up to me.
“Who do we talk to if we have a problem with the show?”
Frequently while house managing people will come to me with stuff like this. It’s a big part of the job. Often, their problem with the show is that their seats aren’t any good or it’s too cold, things like that. Sometimes it’s because of the actual content of the show. When Circle did The Who’s Tommy I had several people stop to tell me how disappointed they were with the theatre for putting on something so disgusting. This happens when people don’t care to find out what they’re going to see. Would you go to a movie without knowing what it’s about or even the rating? Maybe, but you really shouldn't if you’re someone who might be easily offended.
“Well,” I said, “That depends on what the problem is.”
“We thought,” one of the women began, “that this show was appropriate for children.”
‘Motherfucker,’ I thought, ‘there must be a couple of swears.’ Swears, especially “goddamn,” set off a lot of fucking prudes.
I said: “What is it in the show that you think isn’t appropriate?”
“All the sexual material!” the other lady chimed in.
Seriously? I mean, I haven’t actually watched the show myself, but it’s the musical version of It’s A Wonderful Life. You know, Jimmy Stuart,
everytimeabellringsanangelgetsitswings, a Christmas classic. There are a couple of swears in the play and the story revolves around a man contemplating suicide* so I was ready to deal with that. It’s stupid, but as soon as these women started complaining about the content, I figured that that’s what it was going to be. After all: What the hell else is there that might possibly offend someone in It’s A Wonderful Life?!
“Really?” I asked, trying extraordinarily hard not to sound incredulous. “Such as what?”
“Well, at one point,” one of the women said, “there was a girl dancing in a purple tutu and she spread her legs and we could see EVERYTHING. Her whole crotch. Everything!”
And I think to myself: ‘But it was clothed, right? I mean I can’t imagine an exposed vagina as part of the play.’
“And our sons,” the other woman added, “Were like [eyes bugged out, mouth agape].”
No fucking kidding! If your kids are that repressed, I’m surprised they didn’t spunk themselves when there was visible ankle. If you want to raise serial killers, you are off to a fantastic start, ladies.
“And it happened more than once,” the other woman added. “Do you think that’s appropriate for children?”
I said, “My kids saw it and they didn’t have any problem with it.” I said.
“Then I guess we have different standards because that is not appropriate. Did you watch the show?”
I answered honestly that I hadn’t seen it.
“Well you should have before you exposed your children to it. You should have watched it or gone to a rehearsal or something!”
“You let them watch it without you?!”
“My wife watched it with them,” I explained because it was way easier than saying ‘The woman who I have sex with and intend to marry who is going through a divorce from another man watched the show with them.’
I know I’m not the world’s greatest father, but I never imagined that bringing my kids to see It’s A Wonderful Life made me a bad father. I wanted to tell them that my four year old has Rocky Horror Picture Show memorized, but I was working and wanted to avoid a scene.
“And another time in the show, when she’s getting ready for the wedding she drops her dress on stage and puts on another one.” The other woman said.
Mind you, she’s wearing a slip. Not a teddy, not a lacy little number, but a plain white slip.
“And they were bending over” the other woman added, pantomiming bending over with breasts desperate to fall out of their casing.
“We were told this was a family show! What do we do about this to make sure we don’t end up being exposed to things like this again?”
Don’t ever go to a theatre again. Plays or movies. Stay in your fucking house; don’t turn on the fucking radio or TV. Get changed in the dark; adopt children so you won’t have to endure the degradation of sexual intercourse if you really need some kids to destroy with your insane and dangerous worldview
“We want our money back!”
I explained that I couldn’t do that and that they would have to call the theatre tomorrow and talk to people with actual authority.
“How do we know this won’t happen again?” they asked.
I said that, in this instance the play is based on a movie that’s been around for decades and dec—and she cut me off with a: “This is NOT in the movie! I watch it every year!”
Now, I’ve never seen the movie all the way through either so I can’t attest to whether or not there is any swearing or anything like that but I got this exact same complaint when the theatre did Grease last year. People claimed that “They didn’t use words like that in the movie!” Actually, the theatre cleaned up the script. There are less dirty words in the play than there were in the movie but you saw the movie thirty years ago when you weren’t such a goddamn prude. I’m guessing it’s the same case with this one. Jimmy Stuart gets away with a few swears because he’s a war hero.
I ended the conversation by letting the women know that if they had “that high of a standard” that they needed to do their research. They needed to call the theatre and ask if there was anything at all in the show that might possibly be offensive.
I told them all this knowing full well that any person they spoke to at the theatre or anyone they talked to that had seen the show would tell them the same thing: There is nothing at all that a sane human being would be offended by in this show.
As they left I thought: “Have a nice night ladies and don’t come back. Be careful driving, too: it must be very difficult driving when you have to shield your and your children’s eyes from billboards lest they feature an allusion to human sexuality.
Now I’m going to go home and have premarital sex.”
*SPOILER: He doesn’t end up doing it. Just saying.