Every Broadway play has a moment at which latecomers are allowed to be rushed down the aisle by the usher and scrambled into their seats to cause the least possible distraction.
At some plays, you have to wait until the first scene has wrapped and there’s music to cover the scene change. Some musicals make you wait till the first big number has ended, and then you can claim your seat over the applause (assuming there is some).
But at Cat on a Hot Tin Roof the other night, I realized exactly when latecomers are allowed to their seats.
As Maggie “the cat”, the frustrated wife of an alcoholic, Scarlett Johansson has a lengthy Act One monologue–a long and vivid stream of pleas, regrets, taunts, and accusations. As Maggie continues on and on with her verbiage, it always becomes clear that this is not only a literary tour de force, but one of the longest set pieces in ensemble-drama history.
And the other night, the tardy lady in front of me was escorted to her seat the second that long monologue was over and a supporting character had entered and started talking.
And that makes perfect sense.
You don’t want to step on that cat’s tail, especially when she’s already fuming.