Don’t even get me started on this one. My partner is a critic in Boston, and we go to live performances 4 or 5 times a week during the season. The number of times I have had to tell someone to shut up I couldn’t even count. At one performance a woman behind me, maybe in her 50’s or 60’s talked to her husband, in a normal voice, through the whole first half of the performance. As soon as the lights went up at intermission I let her have it. I blasted her for more than a minute while everyone within 100 feet stood there and watched. The theater was a quiet as a morgue for the second half.
At a Dawn Upshaw concert 2 years ago, an old bag in a designer suit(she must have been 80) made a call to her driver during the second encore to tell him to come pick them up. When the encore was over I turned around to let her have it. Before I could say anything the woman directly behind me(the offender was 2 rows behind me) said,”How much will you pay me to slug her in the face?”
I’ve learned a few things about rude people at concerts. 1) They won’t shut up until someone tells them to shut up. 2) If you’re going to tell them to be quiet, do it in the loudest and rudest way you can, so that everyone around can hear you. The person you are addressing will either get very belligerent
(rarely), or not say anything back. In both cases though, they will not make another sound for the rest of the evening. Neither will anyone else in the audience. Depending on the situation, I usually tell them loudly and as long as possible that they are misbehaving. With the woman on the cell phone, I chewed her out for as long as the applause lasted.
If anyone is going to force me to put limits on their offensive behavior, I want them to know that there is a heavy price to pay. In the case you stated, someone-an usher, someone from the performance, whoever- should have gone right up to them and, in a voice that the whole audience could hear, tell them that they were rude and offensive.
I heard years ago of a famous pianist stopping his concert because someone was talking in one of the front rows. The pianist just sat at the piano and starred at the person. When the person finally realized he was being singled out and stopped talking, the pianist said to him, in a voice that the whole audience could hear “Either you leave or I leave.” The person got up and left.