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Audience members removed from ‘Dracula’ ballet after altercation

Oct 26, 2023, 6:18 PM | Updated: 6:31 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A fight broke out among audience members at Wednesday night’s production of the “Dracula” ballet at Capitol Theatre.

Ballet West executive director Michael Scolamiero said a couple was repeatedly asked by fellow patrons and ushers to lower their voice or stop talking, and they chose not to comply.

“There were patrons up in one of the boxes who were just not being respectful of those around them,” he said. “They were speaking loudly.”

He said ushers approached them during intermission. They said they were excited about the show and theatre staff thought nothing of it, until things escalated.

“In the second act, it erupted into a verbal altercation that was quite loud and it required house personnel to come to try and get them to calm the situation and get them to leave,” Scolamiero said.

Theater-goer Nate Rowley and his husband were sitting near the orchestra pit when they heard the fight break out.

“There was some profanity and definitely some type of altercation happening there,” Rowley said. “There was a woman that continued to keep talking and the audience kept shushing her.”

Rowley said the altercation became noticeable from his seat during a very solemn part of the performance. “At this moment in the ballet, the priest onstage came out with a cross, kind of a big moment in the act,” he said.

He said the situation escalated.

“I kept wondering, are we stopping, are we pausing? And they kept going,” he said. “Hats off to them. The music kept going, the dancers kept going. They didn’t seem them miss a beat.”

Scolamiero said that when the couple refused to leave after he approached them, the sheriff’s department was called.

“They were not allowed back in the show,” he said. “I’ve heard from many people around them that they reeked of alcohol.”

He said there was a tussle between one of the patrons who had been asked to leave and another sitting nearby.

“There was some pushing, there were no punches thrown or anything like that,” Scolamiero said.

Rowley said it’s sad the audience’s attention was stolen. “Is there enough social decay that we just start to see this more often, or is this a more isolated situation?” he asked.

Scolamiero said this kind of occurrence is not common. “The first time in my entire career as an arts executive that I’ve ever had anything like this happen,” he said.

He said that while he couldn’t comment on any discipline the couple might face, it’s highly unlikely they will return to another performance at Capitol Theatre.

Scolamiero said the incident shouldn’t deter any other guests from coming.

“If at any time we felt this was becoming unsafe for others around them, we would’ve stopped the show, but it didn’t reach that point,” he said.

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Audience members removed from ‘Dracula’ ballet after altercation