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You know, it's tough to tell a good story -- or listen to one -- when rude noises disrupt what you're trying to say. That's why the producers of most stage plays, concerts, operas and the like ask audiences to turn off their cell phones. So everybody can enjoy the performance, ushers wait for a break to seat those who show up late. And they deal sternly with people who talk during the show.

This certainly has been the protocol in America's most famous theater district, on Broadway in New York City. That is, until recently.

In an effort to increase revenue, about half the Broadway theaters now allow people to bring in and eat snacks -- potato chips, glasses of wine, maybe a slice of quiche -- preferably purchased at the theater's concession stand. It's getting so theatergoers don't make much of a distinction between the movies -- where folks munch on buttered popcorn and slurp fountain drinks -- and stage plays in the most prestigious theaters in America.

This is what it's like in some Broadway theaters now:

"Oh, Reginald, I love you so. I can't wait for you to . . .


". . . sweep me into your arms."

Broadway patrons have grown so accustomed to chowing down that management has been forced to put up signs in the lobby, asking them to please remove candy wrappers before taking their seats.

Old theater pros . . .


Old theater pros are outraged at the degraded etiquette. "We've all done dinner theater," they growl. "But never on Broadway."