Actress Christine Sherrill was waiting backstage to make her entrance in Signature Theatre's production of The Fix when the doors through which she was supposed to make her entrance suddenly burst open the wrong way.
A woman stood there and delivered a dramatic request, "Where is the bathroom? I have to pee."
That's right, an audience member had climbed onto the stage of the Arlington, VA, theatre and exited through a door on the set seeking a restroom.
It occurred right in the middle of Tina McCoy and Cal Chandler's onstage duet "Alleluia" (which they reportedly completed), just before Sherrill's entrance as Violet Chandler. So there appears to have been no question about what part of the theatre building was intended for actors, and which part for the audience.
McCoy and Chandler were on the opposite side of the stage at the time and did not see the audience member make her dash, according to Signature spokesperson James Gardiner. Because Sherrill's side of the stage was unlit, most of the audience did not witness the incident. Gardiner said the unnamed woman, described as being in her mid-30s and part of a group, was escorted to a lobby restroom by a member of the crew and appears to have completed her mission. House management and the crew explained that those doors were not an exit.
"She appeared to be intoxicated when she was walked out to the lobby," Gardiner said. "They didn't reseat her since it was too close to intermission and, as far as house management knows, her and one of the guests she came with left at intermission."
The show, a musical about a fictional presidential campaign, went on without interruption.
This latest transgression appears to be part of a summer epidemic of audience cavalier treatment of the fourth wall. It comes less than six weeks after an audience member tried to plug his phone charger into a prop outlet on the stage of the Booth Theatre on Broadway during a performance of Hand to God, and after actress Patti LuPone had to impound the cell phone of a woman texting during her performance of Shows for Days.
No cell phone appears to have been involved in Saturday night's unscheduled addition to The Fix. Gardiner reported that the theatre's patron restrooms were functioning normally at the time.
Gardiner said this has never happened before at the Signature Theatre, and there was no special announcement afterward. He said, "At Signature Theatre we pride ourselves on presenting intimate and environmental productions. We want our audiences to feel like they are immersed in the world of the show. Just not THAT immersed. We're guessing that she really wanted to take a tour of our onstage White House."