THE SUBURBAN DANDY
PROFILE: An almost-middle-aged man who thinks "dressing up" means donning a vest purchased from the men's clothing aisle at Sam's Club. Or a fortyish fellow who considers owning a suit "unnecessary" but does own a Scooby-Doo necktie.
COSTUME: A pair of torn tennis shorts purchased at a flea market; a mostly clean tee shirt featuring a silk-screened advertisement for malt liquor; and those comfy plastic sandals he got on sale at Osco, sans socks.
DIALOGUE: In response to anyone who questions his evening wear: "Hey, it's Phoenix!"
THE TARDY TENDERFOOT
PROFILE: A plumber from Seligman who last visited the theater when his daughter portrayed a shrub in her fourth-grade Christmas pageant.
BITS OF BUSINESS: Searching everywhere for a concession stand that sells something other than frappuccino and Frisbee-size cookies; making his way to his seat 12 minutes after curtain goes up, facing the stage as he goes, so that his buttocks graze the noses of those already seated; applauding at the end of every scene.
DIALOGUE: If it's a musical: "They're not going to sing again, are they?" At intermission: "Is it over?"
THE SPORTS FAN
PROFILE: A VP of sales and marketing for an industrial concern who attends theater only when it's a road company of something execrable (like Grease) starring a has-been television sitcom star (like Eddie Mekka), or when forced to go by his wife.
BITS OF BUSINESS: Reading the sports pages, which he's brought along "in case the show gets boring"; listening to the playoffs with a discreet transistor earphone; trying to sneak out at intermission.
DIALOGUE: "What kind of entertainment do they have at halftime?"
PROFILE: A well-dressed society matron who secretly hopes to be picked for the inevitable audience participation number.
BITS OF BUSINESS: Opening cellophane-wrapped Coffee Nips candy as slowly as humanly possible, just as the heroine onstage is about to say something meaningful; shooting daggers at anyone who looks her way.
DIALOGUE: "I'm hypoglycemic!"
AD-LIB: "Buy your own damn treats."
THE MATINEE MOMMY
PROFILE: A stay-at-home mom of indeterminate age who has forgotten that no one under 15 should be allowed into a theater unless the program involves puppets and a morals lesson.
BITS OF BUSINESS: Ignoring the patron who objects to her noisy tot kicking the back of the patron's seat; refusing to leave at intermission despite the fact that her offspring is projectile vomiting all over the lobby.
DIALOGUE: "I thought live theater would be edifying for Little Janie."
PROFILE: A great, strapping former linebacker who thought he was going to the movies when his girlfriend mentioned "the theater."
BITS OF BUSINESS: Offering thunderous comments to his companion about the actors, particularly if he's unimpressed with their performances.
DIALOGUE: "I think the lead guy is a fairy!"
PROFILE: A soccer mom with four kids, a full-time job, and a secret crush on Richard Kiley.
BITS OF BUSINESS: Nodding off during any scene in which "people are just standing around talking"; snoring loudly; drooling.
DIALOGUE: "Phantom was a whole lot better."
THE THEATER CRITIC
PROFILE: Liberal arts major with a superiority complex.
COSTUME: A hat with a veil, even if he's a man.
BITS OF BUSINESS: Clucking over botched sound cues; scribbling notes about the costumer's use of tulle and the lighting designer's choice of gels; whining that the work is "derivative" and "insufficiently ironic"; offering, at intermission, an unsolicited critique of the first act that begins, "When I saw it on opening night in New York . . ."; claiming to have enjoyed Cats.
DIALOGUE: "I thought the second act lacked proper focus." "I liked the touring production much better." As intermission ends: "I should have listened to my mother and become a pet groomer."
PROFILE: An interior designer who owns every Broadway cast recording released in this country since the invention of the phonograph. Or a well-groomed personal shopper with a good tailor and a vast collection of mint-in-box teenage fashion dolls.
COSTUME: A hat with a veil, especially if he's a man.
BITS OF BUSINESS: Refusing to sit anywhere above the fifth row, since "real actors should be able to project that far"; a whispered description of the playwright's last seven shows, employing phrases like "florid" and "postmodern" to describe them; postshow commentary on the blocking, the director (but never the actors, unless it's to criticize a player's "interpretation"), and the lack of "stage presence" among the cast; claiming to have understood Cats.
DIALOGUE: If it's an adaptation: "Translations never truly capture the essence of what the original author intended, do they?"
THE DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE
PROFILE: A gynecologist who never works weekends but always carries a cell phone.
BITS OF BUSINESS: Smiling sheepishly and shrugging when his phone rings halfway through the leading man's big monologue; recounting, sotto voce, the entire plot of the show to the person on the other end of the line; sneering when fellow audience members hiss at him (after all, he's a patron of the arts, while they're merely season ticket holders).
DIALOGUE: "I'm on call!"
THE GREEN ROOM BROWN-NOSER
PROFILE: A dinner-theater actor with a day job and comp tickets to the show. Or the parent of someone in the cast. Or a theater critic with no morals and a secret desire to be loved by "theater people."
BITS OF BUSINESS: Dropping names; fawning; asking for autographs; cornering the second male lead and exclaiming, "Tonight, a star was born!"; making a pass at the wigmaster; refusing to speak to fans of the leading lady or anyone who isn't Equity.
DIALOGUE: "It was all right for a workshop production."
PROFILE: Almost any living person in North America.
DIALOGUE: To a theater critic he's cornered in the lobby after the show, loudly and within earshot of several cast members: "So! What did you think of the play?!"