This Morning presenter Alison Hammond has apologised for claiming that people should be allowed to sing along at performances of The Bodyguard musical, days before a row in the theatre broke out into a violent brawl.
The ITV talk show discussed the issue on Wednesday after reports of altercations at performances of the touring musical, based on the film of the same name, which features the music of Whitney Houston.
During the discussion, Hammond and her co-hosts had laughed at a plea from Manchester’s Palace Theatre for attendees to refrain from singing, adding: “I can’t believe it, I’d be devastated, I’m not even going to go to that show now.”
Broadcaster Vanessa Feltz had claimed: “Isn’t the whole point of going to a musical that you know, that you sing along to the bits you know, and when you don’t know the words, you just make them up? Isn’t that what everyone does very, very loudly while eating an ice cream?”
Musical performers and front-of-house theatre workers strongly criticised the remarks from Hammond and Feltz for making light of an issue that they said is increasingly a flashpoint for bad behaviour and violence at “jukebox” shows featuring well-known songs.
Two days after the segment aired, the Manchester theatre discussed on the programme was forced to abandon a performance of The Bodyguard when members of the audience who had been asked to refrain from singing grew abusive and violent towards staff.
With the exception of some pantomimes and shows with dedicated audience participation segments, singing along at musicals has been discouraged for decades and nearly all theatres.
On Sunday, Hammond said she had been horrified to be made aware of the disruption being faced by theatres.
She said: “I had no idea the level of disruption audiences were causing and tried to make light of the topic on Wednesday’s show, and for that I’m truly sorry.
“I am a great supporter of theatre and the arts and would never sing at the top of my lungs at any performance, I was wrong in what I said and I’ve given this a lot of thought over the past few days and believe I was wrong.”
Hammond added: “I want to use my platform for good as always and want to stand up with the performers, front of house and theatre staff especially after seeing what happened at The Bodyguard in Manchester which has made me sick to my stomach.
“Once again I am truly sorry but trust me I will do better in the future.”
In February, while hosting a production of Four Seasons musical Jersey Boys, Edinburgh Playhouse called out members of the public for physically assaulting staff who had asked them not to “sing, dance and talk throughout the show in a manner that disturbs others”.
Glasgow’s King’s Theatre was also left battling antisocial behaviour during The Bodyguard‘s tour stop in the city.