A performance of The Bodyguard musical was ended early after two unruly members of the audience were thrown out by security for singing the show’s famous track I Will Always Love You.
Witnesses said pair were “forcibly removed” from their seats during a performance at the Palace Theatre in Manchester and were spoken to by attending police officers.
The final 10 minutes of the musical, which stars former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton, were axed on Friday night after some audience members refused to stay seated and stop singing loudly.
The theatre had asked people not to sing during the show, which is based on the 1992 film of the same name starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.
Tash Kenyon, a 27-year-old payroll clerk from the Wirral, told the PA news agency that she and her mother Jan Kenyon, a nurse, had gone to see the show for Jan’s 65th birthday and that signs publicising the ban on singing were “incredibly hard to miss”.
Tash said: “Before the performance the stewards were walking up and down the aisles with signs saying ‘please refrain from singing along’ – they were incredibly hard to miss. Two announcements were made as well saying ‘please don’t sing’ and that the audience would have a chance to join in in the finale.
“The show was halted about 20 minutes in as some guests were singing. The guests were removed, and the show continued. The show had about 10 minutes left when the lead started performing I Will Always Love You.
“Someone shouted ‘Does this mean we can start singing now?’ which set the audience off laughing, and that’s when the singing started over the top of the lead’s vocals.
“The show stopped a minute later, the lights went on, and I couldn’t see from my seat but I could hear the commotion from the second tier of seats, and people were looking up shocked.
“I’m pretty sure some women were being forcibly removed. We had to catch the train home so we decided to just leave and when we got to the foyer we were told the show had been cancelled and everyone had to leave anyway.
“There was already a police van outside, then two more showed up, one very nearly hitting me and my mum as we tried to cross the road.”
A 60-year-old audience member told PA that following the shouts of ‘can we sing now’ “security intervened and a scuffle broke out and police were called – one police van and two police cars”.
Audience member Karl Bradley told BBC Radio Manchester that some theatregoers had begun a countdown ahead of the I Will Always Love You finale and “started to project themselves” by joining in with the singing and attempting to hit the song’s notoriously high notes, which led to “chaos”.
The force added: “Two people removed by security staff were spoken to by police and a decision about any further action will be made once the evidence has been reviewed.”
A spokesperson for the theatre confirmed that despite the disruption on Friday, scheduled performances of the show will take place as normal until April 15.
They said: “We are disappointed that the last 10 minutes of the show needed to be cancelled due to disruptive customers refusing to stay seated and spoiling the performance for others.”
Thornton, 38, plays Rachel Marron in the touring theatre production, which follows Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard Frank Farmer as he is hired to protect superstar Rachel from an unknown stalker.
Speaking in a video posted to her Instagram story on following the disruption, Thornton thanked fans for attending the show and apologised for the disruption and early finish.
She added: “I know people were out to see just a really beautiful show. I thank everyone who was respectful of the performers, and I’m very sorry for those who weren’t. I hope that we see you soon. That’s it. Thank you love you.”