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  • Writer's pictureBroadway Beat

No Flash Photography? Usher Unsure What to Do About Audience Member Drawing Big Fun Caricatures

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

by Zach Raffio. @zachraffio.

BURLINGTON, VT - Local Burlington Arts Center theater usher Max Lennon, often faced with audience members attempting to take photos and videos of the performances, encountered an unusual dilemma this week after he noticed an audience member sketching lifelike, yet exaggerated caricatures of the actors and plot during the current tour of Once On This Island, sources have confirmed.

“It’s not exactly against the rules, but it's weird, right?” wondered the 22-year old usher and college student, trying to find a way to signal "put away your fine-tip marker" to the artist. “Usually we have to stop people from taking pictures during the show, but this guy was just drawing the leads faces on different bodies. I don’t… like... what was I supposed to do?”

The audience member has been confirmed as John Curtell, a local street illustrator who won a free ticket to the performance. He showed us several of his drawings - including actor Phil Rush, who plays the demon Papa Ge, with his head on that of a very muscular lifeguard, and Kate Oterstot, who plays the peasant girl Ti Moune, with her head on a certified beach babe.

“I can pretty much only do beach stuff,” noted the elusive artist, who by all accounts isn't, like, bad. “I know photos aren’t allowed, but I don’t get to see many shows, so wanted to commemorate it. It’s technically not against the rules,” he added while drawing our reporting staff as a group of friends playing beach volleyball.

The theater’s management was equally perplexed by his actions.

“I mean, we couldn’t kick him out, but… I don’t know, it’s weird, right?” asks house manager Margaret Pool, frantically searching through the house rule book for anything labeled "boardwalk fun". “At one point we thought he was taking a video, and that was our chance to stop this, but he was just using a small telescope to ‘get the features right’ as he drew the actor playing Asaka as an ice cream seller. It’s not wrong, but it’s also very wrong, you know?”

At press time, Curtell was seen offering half-price sketches to audience members leaving the performance, with an additional discount offered to anyone who sings him a song in French. When asked why his patrons had to sing, Curtell responded “It’s not against the rules, right?”, which customers confirmed as true but still, like, a little weird.


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