Saturday, February 24, 2024

Does Meaford Hall’s Opera House Really Need to be Licenced?

By Stephen Vance, Editor

Meaford Hall’s Opera House is now licenced for alcohol consumption, but was it really necessary, and is it really a good idea?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to admit I enjoy a good, stiff drink, but in the seats of the opera house? I’ve been to many plays, movies, and concerts at Meaford Hall, and though a drinker I may be, I have never felt the need to have a beverage with me at my seat during a production.

True, the intermissions at Meaford Hall are long enough to technically purchase and consume an alcoholic beverage, though the reality is that the lines can be long, and the actual consuming time can be short as a result, but do we really want people taking their glasses of red wine, or their beer into the opera house?

Does Meaford Hall really need to add to the standard job description of its staff and volunteers “clean-up in row G”?

Among the many productions I’ve been witness to over the course of my life, I’ve attended concerts at Roy Thomson Hall, plays at the Pantages Theatre, I’ve taken in a ballet in Moscow, and an opera in India of all places, and never has there been food or alcohol of any kind in the seats of the theatre. And while the ability to bring alcohol into theatres and opera houses is becoming a bit of a trend, it doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea.

I suspect Meaford Hall won’t think it such a great idea either after they deal with increased cleaning time and costs, or trying to calm Aunt Betty from Saskatoon who has had red wine spilled all over her white jacket while taking in a community theatre production while visiting her sister and her thespian offspring.

Will the newly licenced opera house see increased ticket sales as a result? I doubt it. Has there been a huge demand for the ability to take your wobbly-pop back to your seat? I doubt that too.

Perhaps there are hungry people in the theatre – should they be allowed to bring a pizza to their seat? No, that would be silly. It could create a mess, and bother those seated in close proximity to the hungry patron. Perhaps popcorn would be better.

But alcohol, sure, no possibility for problems there.

I am surprised that Meaford Hall staff would be willing to introduce alcohol into the opera house, and I am surprised that there are people that would want to bring their drinks to their seats. There are no cup holders after all, and though sufficiently comfortable, the seating in Meaford Hall’s opera house doesn’t seem like it was designed to accommodate drink-bearing patrons. Imagine the sloshing to and fro as patrons return to their seats and do the theatre row shuffle as already seated patrons pull their legs in tight, or stand – beverage in hand – to allow a passerby.

That said, I hope I’m wrong, and this new endeavour goes well, and I hope that it doesn’t result in extra costs, and the need for additional staff or contracted cleaning services, and most of all, I hope it doesn’t result in the deterioration of what is currently a clean, well maintained facility.

I confess however, that I’m not holding my breath for any of those hopes.

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