PITTSBURGH—Audience members at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts are reporting that, oh God, no, approximately 20 extremely enthusiastic actors are approaching the edge of the stage and appear determined to continue their current musical number in the main seating area.
"Oh, man, are they? Shit," one audience member was overheard saying as the energetic ensemble began filing down previously unseen stairs and past the front row. "Shit, shit, shit."
Increasingly uncomfortable audience sources have also confirmed that the performers are proceeding down the aisle with crisp, larger-than-normal steps timed perfectly to the music. Even more shocking, some appear intent on interacting with non–cast members.
"Their smiles are so big," a female theatergoer said while pretending to look for something in her purse. "Why does that one have a cordless microphone? Is he going to try to talk to us?"
"I have to go to the restroom," she added.
While it remains unclear how long this horrifying breach of the fourth wall will last, or why the actors worked so hard to create a fictional distance between themselves and the audience if they had no intention of maintaining it, past productions suggest there are still five minutes left in the current number. Some predict the cast will return to the stage before the song's conclusion, but others fear they may stay in the aisles, making unnerving eye contact and blocking all available exits.
Thus far, the actors have ignored audience members' squirms and anxious expressions, opting instead to clap in an effort to get everyone to clap along with them.
Oh, no, more singing and dancing performers have just entered the balcony.
"Their makeup looks way scarier under normal lighting," one theater patron whispered. "Especially that one kid playing the old man."
Audience members have given no indication that the actors' increased proximity has enhanced their experience, or given them a sense of involvement in the production. Some have questioned, however, whether or not it is out-of-character for the play's antagonist to be doing the twist with the show's protagonist, especially before the conflict between the two has been resolved.
While most theatergoers have avoided meeting the actors' gaze by smiling awkwardly and staring straight ahead, the roughly 76 people seated on the aisles have been less fortunate. Performers are currently removing them from their seats and are apparently forcing them to participate in some kind of humiliating choreographed dance.
Jesus Christ, one actor just did a jumping toe-touch from the stage into the audience, pumped his fist, and high-fived a fellow performer, prompting those in the first several rows to jerk back in their seats and shield their heads.
"Why can't we just watch the play?" a female audience member asked a man who is possibly her husband. "When I saw this with Diane in New York, I swear, David, I swear they didn't do this."
Although the exodus into the seating area was not announced, there have been several indications that the actors could be capable of ruining the invisible boundary between them and the paying public. During the previous song, the ensemble sang the words, "For all of us," and gestured not only to themselves, but also to the audience. A second, more ominous sign was the sudden raising of the houselights during the song's chorus—a slight change in mood that caused some worried attendees to look around and ask, "What's going on?"
And, just before the upbeat percussive section that unleashed the thespians, a male lead turned his head sharply to the audience and said, "Here we go."
By then, however, it was too late.
Witnesses say one actor has now perched himself on the back of a seat and started singing directly to a small child. The boy has responded by clinging to his mother and burying his face into her chest.
"They're bringing that fat guy back onstage with them," an audience member said. "Oh, Christ, what are they going to make him do? Why—why don't they just leave us alone?"