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Broadway Introduces New Penalty for Excessive Coughing During a Performance: You Must Wash Elphaba

by Brendan Leonard. @brennylen.

NEW YORK, NY - The Broadway League announced today that, following a board meeting called to address the epidemic of excessive coughing during shows, anyone who coughs too much during a performance will be punished by having to perform Broadway’s most detested task: washing off the actress who plays Elphaba.

“It’s a logical conclusion,” said Janine Glaze, a spokesperson for the Broadway League. “Those who plague our shows with harsh coughing during inopportune, delicate stage moments will be punished by having to scrub every last green dot off the actress playing Elphaba that night, even if they’re not seeing Wicked. That’s right - if you cough too much, you’ll have to pay for your own cab, get over to the Gershwin Theatre, and begin the cleanse.”

The news comes after complaints from performers, producers, and audience members alike, insisting that there must be more severe consequences for those hack too much lung after the curtain goes up. The Broadway community is well aware that washing down the actress playing Elphaba night after night is a historically arduous task. 

The Gershwin Theatre has employed over 1,500 Elphaba cleaners, or "Wicked Washers", during the musical’s 16-year-run. The average washer only lasts six performances before quitting or dropping dead from the green fumes.


“Listen, if you have the slightest tickle in your throat, please don’t go into the theater,” said Chad Bucks, the most recent Wicked Washer on staff. “When they give you the gear and the hose, you think you’re protected, but you’re not. The real wicked witch of Wicked is Ben Nye. Damn you, Ben Nye! Damn you!” he added from his deathbed at Mount Sinai West.

There have been calls for the League to reconsider this dangerous rule, but it would seem that they feel that the punishment fits the crime. 

“Who isn’t sick and tired of the sick and tired ruining a $200 experience?” questioned heated board member Brian Furk. “We’ve all been on the edge of our seats, waiting for Laura Linney to say the name of the play for two hours, and then, right as she’s about to say it, some moron in the mezzanine starts ejecting phlegm as loudly as humanly possible. Keep it down! Literally! Keep the mucus in your body and unload it on 46th street later, like a civilized person - or have fun washing makeup off a grown woman later that night. Your choice.”

At press time, members of the League announced that their rule will go into place effective immediately, as there is a crucial need for a new Wicked Washer at the Gershwin. Chad Buck’s family has shared that instead of his name, date of birth or date of death, he would simply like his gravestone to inscribe the following message: “Just take a cough drop or something.”


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