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Posted (edited)

We all go to the ballet with different expectations whether or not what we see in performance satisfies us depends on how closely the text and its performance provide what we hope to see.  I know plenty of people who really only equate classical ballet with dancers doing pointe work and technical tours de force performed by dancers of both genders, They would happily sacrifice the entire hunting scene in Beauty because to them it is not "real" dancing. It sound as if some audience members were dissatisfied with the reconstruction because they were expecting a grand imperial style ballet and choreography rather than the smaller scale almost domestic nature of what they saw in Harlequinade. Some people find it difficult to come to terms with a work which provides small scale pleasures and effective mime passages rather than the big technical set pieces which is what audiences have come to expect from all the " after Petipa productions" with new improved choreography which most companies stage in his name. Even a far from authentic production of a ballet like Cavalry Halt can come as a bit of a culture shock because the amount of mime and character work is much higher than we have become accustomed to seeing and there is only a very limited amount of technical display.  What is fascinating in that work is to see the sort of material which appears to have a strong familial relationship with material in Lichine's Graduation Ball. From what I have read here and elsewhere I can't help wondering what part, if any, familiarity with this ballet played in the creation and staging of Fokine's Carnaval? Who knows perhaps some passages in Massine's Pulcinella owe something to Harlequinade as well.

Edited by Ashton Fan

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, Ashton Fan said:

Some people find it difficult to come to terms with a work which provides small scale pleasures and effective mime passages rather than the big technical set pieces which is what audiences have come to expect from all the " after Petipa productions" with new improved choreography which is what most companies stage in his name.

I love mime. I think the problem is that the mime passages last night weren't very compelling. Tuesday's audience was much less enchanted than Monday's because the performers (except for Abrera) were underpowered. Also the kids just weren't very good. 

This reconstruction would have done better in the Koch Theater. It's not a huge scale Met production. I found it much too intimate for this stage. Everything Cirio did just sort of evaporate before it hit the audience, and I was in the orchestra. 

Ashton Fan, this doesn't relate to your post, but I'm getting tired of all the didactic 'but let me educate you about Petipa' responses. The program itself is unsuccessful because something vital has been lost in translation, and it's not the right company/venue for it. At least in the performance I saw. Who knows, maybe on Thursday I'll change my mind. 

Edited by Inge

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Back to topic and echoing most comments regarding act 2.  I found the children section to be too long and more over I was sitting around many of the parents and family who were wishpering and taking photos during Act 2.   With that many children on stage and so many family, it really did feel like a school recital.

 

i will be back tomorrow to see Bella/James who I hope will have a stronger portrayal of the characters.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/5/2018 at 12:19 AM, Inge said:

I can't wait to see Boylston in this role. I've been waiting for a long time for a ballet that made her style of dancing 'work' for me, and she looks perfect for this. The same goes for Whiteside.

Neither has been a particular favorite of mine, but I can really imagine loving them in this (especially having seen ABT's promo video). Unfortunately, I got tickets for two other casts and not theirs...because neither has been a particular favorite of mine!

On 6/5/2018 at 1:01 AM, CharlieH said:

David Hallberg will definitely not be pushing his dancing feet tomorrow night...but he’ll be called upon to perform vigorous comedic acting. Did you see his comedic moments as Prince Coffee in Whipped Cream last year? I think we’re in for a treat tomorrow.

Hallberg's Pierrot was one of the highlights of the evening for me. I liked the humorous subtextual interplay (even if unintentional) of performer and role—the character's amplification of qualities in Hallberg that sometimes fall just shy of turning me off.

19 hours ago, Inge said:

[Cirio's] characterization was very flat. ... Hallberg was surprisingly one-note. It was good, but I expected a little more from him. Lane was solid, also a bit one-note.

This is commedia dell'arte, after all. But I think I know what you mean.

17 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Raymonda

Yes, please!

17 hours ago, CharlieH said:

Few here talk about the sheer beauty of Drigo’s score. Pure evocation of love and simplicity in sound. To me, the most perfect ballet score. (I wish that it would come out on CD.)

Finally, folks, please remember the special nature of Harlequinade’s creation - it was a private entertainment for the court, at the Hermitage palace. It was a short (but luxurious) ballet, not intended for the Mariinsky but such a hit that it was soon transferred to the larger stage.

I agree about the score—I liked it quite a lot, though at least on first hearing I wouldn't say it struck me as being quite up there in the topmost tier. I would love to listen more, though, and am surprised it hasn't been recorded (even in substantial excerpts?), given that the ballet has been performed in a variety of (albeit altered and often incomplete) forms over the past century. 

As for the original context of the work's creation, unfortunately the fact that the work was such a hit with the courtiers of 1900 doesn't make it any more appealing to me as a work of dance theatre.

17 hours ago, laurel said:

Once again, sadly, the audience appeared to be full of people who wished they were home, watching TV.  The people behind us were actually complaining at intermission about how boring they thought it was.  A world of beautiful, live fantasy on stage in front of you, and you're bored??!!   I don't understand why they would spend so much money to be bored in public, when they could stay home and be bored there.  For free.  There are too many people at ballets such as this, who show up, and look, but do not see.  Or think.  

À chacun son goût, right? I don't know why it should be assumed that those whose tastes differ aren't seeing or thinking for themselves. Perhaps they are just seeing and thinking differently?

15 hours ago, Laurent said:

Use of children in ballet is ”excessive" only when they are poorly prepared...

I'm a bit baffled by this statement. Are you suggesting that if the use of children's ensembles seems excessive in a dance work it can't be the fault of the choreographer but must necessarily be the fault of the dancers (and their preparers)? That's what your "only" seems to me to imply.

10 hours ago, Ashton Fan said:

We all go to the ballet with different expectations whether or not what we see in performance satisfies us depends on how closely the text and its performance provide what we hope to see.  ...  It sound as if some audience members were dissatisfied with the reconstruction because they were expecting a grand imperial style ballet and choreography rather than the smaller scale almost domestic nature of what they saw in Harlequinade. Some people find it difficult to come to terms with a work which provides small scale pleasures and effective mime passages rather than the big technical set pieces which is what audiences have come to expect from all the " after Petipa productions" with new improved choreography which is what most companies stage in his name.

Our expectations are certainly one factor that can determine what satisfies us, but I personally wouldn't assume that those who were dissatisfied simply went in with the wrong expectations. It's quite possible for one to be open to being satisfied by something unexpected and yet to then find that the particular unexpected thing one is given is, in fact, unsatisfying. Personally, I found many of the mime passages and the few technical set pieces (especially the magnificent lark pas) to be the two most satisfying aspects of the evening. (For instance, I loved the juxtaposition of the two suitors' serenades to Columbine. Léandre's in particular had me laughing.) It was all the other stuff (specifically the, for the most part, quite uninspired ensemble choreography, for both adults and children) that didn't appeal to me — and that was a pretty big chunk of the evening.

Edited by nanushka

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Posted (edited)

I keep coming back to this thread because of the positive emotions that this production has left in my heart. As a long-time ballet lover of traditional classics, who has traveled the globe whenever a Vikharev or other reconstruction has premiered, I must say that this ABT Harlequinade premiere on Monday night was one of the top-five moments of my 50 years of ballet globetrotting. Here’s my shortlist of grandest premieres that I’ve been honored to attend.  All of these counted with spectacular old-fashioned sets & costumes, first & foremost. “Charlie’s Golden Horde” - my Best of the Best :

Sleeping Beauty (Vikharev) at Mariinsky, 1999 w/ Vishneva 

Fille du Pharaon (Lacotte) at Bolshoi w/ Gracheva & Tsiskaridze

Paquita (Lacotte) in Paris; I saw 2nd cast w/ Gillot/BART...amazing! Still the most satisfying Paquita ever staged, although I loved Burlaka’s Grand Pas for Bolshoi 

Bayadere (Vikharev) at Mariinsky w/ divine Pavlenko and Kolb 

Ondine (Lacotte) at Mariinsky with enchanting Obraztsova & Sarafanov

Corsaire (Burlaka/Ratmansky) at Bolshoi, starring Zakharova; loved so much that I traveled one month later to London, seeing all casts. Wow!

Flora’s Awakening (Vikarev) for Mariinsky with adorable Obraztsova once again! Probably my all-time fave reconstruction, with ABT’s Harlequinade. Drigo Double Delight!

Coppelia (Vikharev) at Bolshoi 2009; I saw the debut of the Osipova-led cast

Raymonda (Vikharev) at La Scala, Milan 2011...Novikova spectacular!

Esmeralda (Burlaka) at Bolshoi - Osipova once again. My only quibble is that Burlaka chose to change the A2 Grand Pas des Fleurs...so the Maly-StP version of A2 remains my fave version of only that act.

Swan Lake (Ratmansky) in Zurich 2016 with excellent local principals - despite mostly-crappy Kaplan designs, the Swan tutus are great (traditional) and it’s the best we have until we may see this lovely production in totally-traditional sets & costumes

 Nutcracker (Burlaka/Medvedev) Berlin 

...and now I can add...

Harlequinade (Ratmansky) ABT, New York, 2018 starring Boylston and Whiteside

I add the Mariinsky’s Giselle and Don Q to my ideal play list. To me, only a great traditional Little Humpbacked Horse (to Pugni’s score) is missing. 

Edited by CharlieH
Add Flora; how could I have forgotten that one? The best!

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2 hours ago, Inge said:

The program itself is unsuccessful because something vital has been lost in translation, and it's not the right company/venue for it. At least in the performance I saw. Who knows, maybe on Thursday I'll change my mind. 

See I thought it was so successful that I ran out and bought additional tickets. I thought it was a perfect endearing gem of a ballet.

I can see why people wanting large scale wizzbang dancing might have been disappointed but that doesn't mean the program was unsuccessful. It means it wasn't successful for you.

And the kids Monday were perfect.

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I wasn’t expecting grand-scale or whiz-bang dancing. I just wasn’t expecting so much of the dancing to look uninventive and repetitive (I’m speaking of the ensemble dances, which take up much of the evening).

Some sections of mime were funny and engaging; others dragged.

Maybe my feelings about this ballet are similar to Fille mal gardee. Lots of “oh that’s charming” moments that don’t add up to a great ballet IMHO.

I have tickets to the Saturday matinee that I was going to give away, but I almost want to go again to see if I can feel what others feel about this ballet. I don’t deny it had its moments; it just didn’t work as an evening-long entertainment for me.

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4 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

I wasn’t expecting grand-scale or whiz-bang dancing. I just wasn’t expecting so much of the dancing to look uninventive and repetitive (I’m speaking of the ensemble dances, which take up much of the evening).

Some sections of mime were funny and engaging; others dragged.

Maybe my feelings about this ballet are similar to Fille mal gardee. Lots of “oh that’s charming” moments that don’t add up to a great ballet IMHO.

I have tickets to the Saturday matinee that I was going to give away, but I almost want to go again to see if I can feel what others feel about this ballet. I don’t deny it had its moments; it just didn’t work as an evening-long entertainment for me.

I also love Fille Mal Gardee :D

Different tastes! That is fine. I was just really responding to the idea (not expressed by you) that the ballet was unsuccessful when clearly it is a matter of opinion as many of us didn't seem to find it so.

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8 hours ago, laurel said:

Once again, sadly, the audience appeared to be full of people who wished they were home, watching TV.  The people behind us were actually complaining at intermission about how boring they thought it was.  A world of beautiful, live fantasy on stage in front of you, and you're bored??!!   I don't understand why they would spend so much money to be bored in public, when they could stay home and be bored there.  For free.  There are too many people at ballets such as this, who show up, and look, but do not see.  Or think.  

I can't say anything about the quality of the production, as I haven't seen it, but I find that ABT generally draws in a less sophisticated ballet-going crowd than NYCB... that is, people there more for spectacle than substance. Every time I've attended an ABT performance, there's be at least one of the following completely inappropriate distractions: a crying baby or otherwise loud child, people talking, texting, etc. And, as others have stated, the Met is not a good venue for more "intimate" productions. The stage is just too far away from most of the seats to feel fully absorbed. 

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1 minute ago, aurora said:

I also love Fille Mal Gardee :D

Different tastes! That is fine. I was just really responding to the idea (not expressed by you) that the ballet was unsuccessful when clearly it is a matter of opinion as many of us didn't seem to find it so.

Yes! Fille Mal Gardee is a favorite of many on here, and I just couldn't get into it. Oddly enough, the tone, characters and whimsy of both pieces are exactly the sort of thing I'm drawn to (dancing chickens? jaunty peasant dances? Count me in!) and yet I didn't like the ballets overall, despite loving particular passages. 

I'm pretty sure I want to give Harlequinade a second chance. I will say, it certainly adds much-needed relief to ABT's programming, in the middle of the long, done-to-death full-lengths. I'd much rather seem them present Harlequinade than that dreadful Merry Widow or similar "light" fare. 

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1 minute ago, fondoffouettes said:

I'd much rather seem them present Harlequinade than that dreadful Merry Widow or similar "light" fare. 

Oh good, we're back to agreeing!

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28 minutes ago, aurora said:

I also love Fille Mal Gardee :D

Different tastes! That is fine. I was just really responding to the idea (not expressed by you) that the ballet was unsuccessful when clearly it is a matter of opinion as many of us didn't seem to find it so.

Fille is one of my favorites!

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, JuliaJ said:

I can't say anything about the quality of the production, as I haven't seen it, but I find that ABT generally draws in a less sophisticated ballet-going crowd than NYCB... that is, people there more for spectacle than substance. Every time I've attended an ABT performance, there's be at least one of the following completely inappropriate distractions: a crying baby or otherwise loud child, people talking, texting, etc. And, as others have stated, the Met is not a good venue for more "intimate" productions. The stage is just too far away from most of the seats to feel fully absorbed. 

I'm not sure "sophisticated" is the word I'd use; but perhaps NYCB attracts more regular ballegoers, whereas the ABT's Met season may attract more people who maybe go to a Swan Lake as a special occasion, once a year (I'm just surmising here).

I don't think I've ever had to shush anyone at NYCB, now that I think of it. The only problems I've had are when I sit in the second or third rings and the ushers let latecomers mill around in the back of the ring and be distracting during the performances. (Do they seriously still allow that? It seemed crazy to me.) I moved down to orchestra after too many bad experiences. I do think the NYCB ushers tend to seat people a bit too late. If the curtain is up -- it's too late.

Last night I broke a (personal) rule I thought I'd never, ever break -- I said something to a mom about her child's behavior. It was a mother who was letting her child do pretty much whatever she wanted to during the performance (repeatedly crinkle cellophane, take her shoes off and wave them in the air, wave the arms of her jacket back and forth, stand up and hang on the seat in front of her, among many other movements). The mom did little if anything. Of course this behavior reached its peak during the lark scene. I leaned forward and said, "Could you please keep your daughter under control? It's very distracting." I received a venomous look, and "I'm trying what I can." The thing is, she was doing nothing. Then she turned around again, looking furious, and said, "That was incredibly rude."  I don't mean to underestimate how hard it is to be a parent, but if your child can't sit through a performance, it's time to exit and respect the ticket-buyers sitting around you. I realize a ballet ticket may be cheaper than child care, but if you can afford to raise a child in Manhattan, you can afford to hire a babysitter and respect adults who go to evening entertainments. Or if not, you may simply have to sacrifice going out to the ballet. There was a baby or young child crying last week at Bayadere. Seriously? I can't imagine the baby was brought there to enjoy the performance. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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1 hour ago, fondoffouettes said:

I'm not sure "sophisticated" is the word I'd use; but perhaps NYCB attracts more regular ballegoers, whereas the ABT's Met season may attract more people who maybe go to a Swan Lake as a special occasion, once a year (I'm just surmising here).

I don't think I've ever had to shush anyone at NYCB, now that I think of it. The only problems I've had are when I sit in the second or third rings and the ushers let latecomers mill around in the back of the ring and be distracting during the performances. (Do they seriously still allow that? It seemed crazy to me.) I moved down to orchestra after too many bad experiences. I do think the NYCB ushers tend to seat people a bit too late. If the curtain is up -- it's too late.

Last night I broke a (personal) rule I thought I'd never, ever break -- I said something to a mom about her child's behavior. It was a mother who was letting her child do pretty much whatever she wanted to during the performance (repeatedly crinkle cellophane, take her shoes off and wave them in the air, wave the arms of her jacket back and forth, stand up and hang on the seat in front of her, among many other movements). The mom did little if anything. Of course this behavior reached its peak during the lark scene. I leaned forward and said, "Could you please keep your daughter under control? It's very distracting." I received a venomous look, and "I'm trying what I can." The thing is, she was doing nothing. Then she turned around again, looking furious, and said, "That was incredibly rude."  I don't mean to underestimate how hard it is to be a parent, but if your child can't sit through a performance, it's time to exit and respect the ticket-buyers sitting around you. I realize a ballet ticket may be cheaper than child care, but if you can afford to raise a child in Manhattan, you can afford to hire a babysitter and respect adults who go to evening entertainments. Or if not, you may simply have to sacrifice going out to the ballet. There was a baby or young child crying last week at Bayadere. Seriously? I can't imagine the baby was brought there to enjoy the performance. 

As a mother of 3 who focused on educating kids in ballet and music from an early age I have learned a few things: no traditional ballet performance before the age of 5 - ABT has the 1 hour program which I used for many years until they were “ready”.  Between 6-8 mostly matinees (even then it can be an issue since kids move so much). Show YouTube videos of the ballets as much as possible before the performance so they can ask all questions ahead of it...my 7 1/2 year old has watched Giselle several times on YouTube and La Bayadere most recently as well!  I got to the point now that my 12 year old (dancer) and 7 1/2 year can go to any ballet performance and sit 100% quiet and not move  and I never get the dirty looks (except when we arrive, people give us the looks in antecipation). But it came with training.  it is a wonderful thing to give them this opportunity. 

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8 minutes ago, BrazilianBAllet said:

As a mother of 3 who focused on educating kids in ballet and music from an early age I have learned a few things: no traditional ballet performance before the age of 5 - ABT has the 1 hour program which I used for many years until they were “ready”.  Between 6-8 mostly matinees (even then it can be an issue since kids move so much). Show YouTube videos of the ballets as much as possible before the performance so they can ask all questions ahead of it...my 7 1/2 year old has watched Giselle several times on YouTube and La Bayadere most recently as well!  I got to the point now that my 12 year old (dancer) and 7 1/2 year can go to any ballet performance and sit 100% quiet and not move  and I never get the dirty looks (except when we arrive, people give us the looks in antecipation). But it came with training.  it is a wonderful thing to give them this opportunity. 

This is what I’ve heard from a mom I know who takes her child to the ballet. She puts in a lot of prep work before the ballet to make sure it’s a successful (non-squirmy!) experience.

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2 hours ago, JuliaJ said:

....the Met is not a good venue for more "intimate" productions. The stage is just too far away from most of the seats to feel fully absorbed. 

I agree completely with your view, Juliaj, (even though I haven't seen the ballet yet!) Reading the comments, I'm wondering if the distance of most of the seats from the stage make the mime virtually unintelligible with or without binoculars, which I find annoying to have to use. Personally, I enjoy mime when I'm close enough to "read" it easily, rather than have to work to fill in the blanks.

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2 minutes ago, angelica said:

I agree completely with your view, Juliaj, (even though I haven't seen the ballet yet!) Reading the comments, I'm wondering if the distance of most of the seats from the stage make the mime virtually unintelligible with or without binoculars, which I find annoying to have to use. Personally, I enjoy mime when I'm close enough to "read" it easily, rather than have to work to fill in the blanks.

On Monday it read perfectly clearly from dress circle.

Not everyone understands all the mime certainly (not saying that of people here) and perhaps that is a problem for some viewers. When they do a ballet like this, which is mime heavy, another promo video they might want to consider is a primer on ballet mime.

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I sat in first row of Dress Circle and had no problem understanding the mime. That said, I can imagine how much more understandable this production was in its original venue, the Winter Palace (Hermitage) Theatre. Absolutely gorgeous theatre - one of the best in StP. Highly recommended.

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Perhaps my eyesight is poorer than most, although I do not think so. I just know that the mime passages in ballets have become more meaningful for me now that I can see them close up. Also, though, I believe you're right that not everyone understands all the mime. It took me some time over the years to learn the mime vocabulary and to appreciate its role in a ballet.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, aurora said:

On Monday it read perfectly clearly from dress circle.

Not everyone understands all the mime certainly (not saying that of people here) and perhaps that is a problem for some viewers. When they do a ballet like this, which is mime heavy, another promo video they might want to consider is a primer on ballet mime.

I found it odd that the ABT website does not even include a synopsis of the ballet on its "Repertory Archive" page for Harlequinade, though that page was linked as "Explore Harlequinade" from its season page for the piece. (There isn't really much to "explore," once one clicks on the link.) I understand it's a new work for the company, but presumably such a synopsis could have been written and posted a good deal in advance, given that it's a reconstruction.

There was of course a synopsis in the program, and I didn't personally have any trouble following the mime or the plot more generally (sitting in side orchestra), but still it seemed odd. (Not atypical for ABT — just odd.)

Edited by nanushka

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Just now, angelica said:

Perhaps my eyesight is poorer than most, although I do not think so. I just know that the mime passages in ballets have become more meaningful for me now that I can see them close up. Also, though, I believe you're right that not everyone understands all the mime. It took me some time over the years to learn the mime vocabulary and to appreciate its role in a ballet.

Angelica--I'm not meaning to imply your eyesight is poorer than most, but rather to let you know (as you said you hadn't seen it yet) that the mime in this ballet is quite broadly performed (whereas not all dancers really broadcast the mime in Odette's meeting Seigfried in Swan Lake for example), perhaps because this is, at its heart, a rather slapstick comedy.

I can imagine it would be easier to see from closer, but the first cast made it quite legible even at some distance.

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22 minutes ago, aurora said:

Angelica--I'm not meaning to imply your eyesight is poorer than most, but rather to let you know (as you said you hadn't seen it yet) that the mime in this ballet is quite broadly performed (whereas not all dancers really broadcast the mime in Odette's meeting Seigfried in Swan Lake for example), perhaps because this is, at its heart, a rather slapstick comedy.

I can imagine it would be easier to see from closer, but the first cast made it quite legible even at some distance.

Oh, aurora, I didn't think you were implying that my eyesight is poorer than most. You're quite right that broadly performed mime is very different from the danced mime in SL. Having read all the comments so far, I'm really looking forward to seeing this ballet--and I'm not seeing it until Friday!

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FOF, I hope you didn't back down or apologize. There is no excuse for a child ruining the viewing experience of other ticket purchasers. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Fleurfairy said:

FOF, I hope you didn't back down or apologize. There is no excuse for a child ruining the viewing experience of other ticket purchasers. 

No, it ended there and I avoided any further interaction after the performance was over. I really hate interactions like this and usually avoid shushing unless it's absolutely necessary. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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