Height restrictions for Broadway audiences – whatever next?

Monday 3 December 2007

33781781.jpgThe Whingers received some disturbing but equally exciting news yesterday afternoon.

Andrew made an unusual decision to attend the rather wonderful Ben Yeoh’s birthday celebrations in the National Film Theatre BFI Southbank bar. Unusual for Andrew as he usually prefers to curl up in a ball under a manky duvet with his cats, than attend anything with the word “party” attached. Yes it’s all very Grey Gardens.

Phil of course loves parties being much more socially adept than his fellow Whinger. So while Andrew sat nursing his bottle of Côtes du Rhône in a corner hoping no one would would bother him, Phil was working the room.

And very interesting it proved. There were a lot of Yeohs there of course. Unfortunately no sign of Michelle Yeoh, although it seemed that every other person was a first or second cousin once or twice removed of said film star. Or something like that.

The wine flowed and the Whingers (yes even Andrew loosened up after his second bottle) regaled anyone who couldn’t find a reasonable excuse to escape, with their tales of Broadway strikes and meeting Mel Brooks. But it was Felicity Yeoh who told a much more interesting story about her recent trip to Broadway.

Apparently keen to attend the sold out final night of the long-running Disney musical Beauty and the Beast, she tried for a standing ticket only to be told she wasn’t tall enough, as to watch from a standing position you needed to meet a 5 foot 7 inches height requirement. The Whingers were terribly excited, they’d heard of height requirements on Disney and other theme-parks rides but never in the theatre.

Now the Whingers have done a little research on your behalf (they’re like that) rang the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and discovered that the height of the average American woman is 5′ 3.7″ tall. That’s tall enough to be an astronaut (minimum height, 4′ 10.5″) but falls short of the average Miss America winner (5′ 6.5″), and certainly not tall enough to see Beauty and the Beast from a perpendicular position.

The average U.S. male stands 5′ 9.1″ tall, which means that more men are able to see Beauty and the Beast standing, than women. (just who are these men?). This may all be nonsense of course, remember “facts are not our forte”.

The Whingers of course support equal opportunities at every, well, opportunity, and they think this is sexist and displays signs of heightism, and are encouraging Felicity to visit Claims Direct.

Anyway Felicity promised she’d turn up in very high heels, but the box office put its presumably platformed foot down.

lunt-fontanne-pic1.gifNow the Whingers have long moaned about poor sight lines at various theatres in London and they could be generous to the wonderfully (and currently) named Lunt-Fontanne Theatre where the show was playing and say that it’s very good of the management to ensure that you’ll get a decent view. But of course they aren’t generous, so they won’t.

Phil (who believes he stands head and shoulders above Andrew – he doesn’t of course, it’s his high heels) is now keen to return to Broadway and see which shows he’ll be allowed into and which Andrew won’t meet the height requirements for. He’s also hoping that it’s a policy that could be introduced in London, and not just for standing tickets. Andrew’s hoping he may never be allowed into a theatre again.

The Whingers wonder what requirements for attending (or not attending) theatre our lovely readers would like to see introduced.

2 Responses to “Height restrictions for Broadway audiences – whatever next?”


  1. This reminds me of the hidden “because you’re there” surcharge in London taxis. You know how, in addition to the ordinary distance charges on taxi tariffs, there’s an additional charge based on time spent stationary? Well, it turns out that “stationary” means “travelling at less than 10.4 mph”. Figures for average traffic speed in the central London congestion-charge zone vary from 7.0-10.0 mph.

    As for the actual subject, it strikes me that it could be a too-standard American case of litigation-avoidance, in that if they sold a ticket to a too-short person and were sued, no amount of prior warning to the punterling in question might be sufficient to cover their legal asses.

    However, it strikes me that a wily lawyer might be able to argue that, given differences in average height, the restriction itself constituted sexism and/or racism by other means… I wonder whether the delightfully named attorney at http://www.sullivanandcromwell.com/lawyers/detail.aspx?attorney=140 might be interested?

  2. joyce Says:

    I do wish the Domar would provide stools for people with standing tickets. I’m 5’2” (1.57 meters) and it can be very difficult to see over the person in front of you at that height. I’ve often thought of bringing along my own, especially because it can be so hard to get actual seats for their shows (or decent sight lines).


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