Cast Member of Broadway's The King and I Defends Child Who Disrupted Performance and Inspired Audience Jeers: 'I Am Angry and Sad'
Kelvin Moon Loh, an ensemble member of Broadway's The King and I, wrote a Facebook post defending a mother who's child disrupted the production on Wednesday
An ensemble member of Broadway’s revival of The King and I is speaking out in support of a woman whose child disrupted a matinee performance of the show on Wednesday and was compelled to leave the theater after audience complaints.
Kelvin Moon Loh, who is also an understudy in the production, wrote on Facebook after the show’s Sept. 23 matinee that a child he described as autistic left the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York City’s Lincoln Center after becoming verbally agitated during a “whipping scene.”
“It so happened that during ‘the whipping scene,’ a rather intense moment in the second act, a child was heard yelping in the audience. It sounded like terror,” Loh wrote, and added, “His voice pierced the theater. The audience started to rally against the mother and her child to be removed. I heard murmurs of ‘why would you bring a child like that to the theater?’. This is wrong. Plainly wrong.”
Loh, who wrote “I am angry and sad,” said that the child’s mother eventually left the audience. He said that there had been no disruptions from the child until that moment – two and a half hours into the three hour show.
Instead of chastising the woman’s decision to bring the child to the performance, the actor applauded her.
“For her to bring her child to the theater is brave. You don’t know what her life is like,” he said. “Perhaps, they have great days where he can sit still and not make much noise because this is a rare occurrence. Perhaps she chooses to no longer live in fear, and refuses to compromise the experience of her child.”
Loh noted that the show, which stars Tony winner Kelli O’Hara, is “family friendly” – a categorization that applies to all families, even those with members who have disabilities.
“Shows that have special performances for autistic audiences should be commended for their efforts to make theater inclusive for all audiences,” he wrote.
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The actor responded to the slew of attention the story received in the comment section of his post, writing that he will “continue to make theater for [the mother].”
“When I looked up at the curtain call and saw three empty seats where I knew they were sitting – I was heartbroken. I was heartbroken to know that she might never know that as a company (I must applaud my cast and crew) we continued the show and we were not bothered,” he said.
The actor told Playbill.com he’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for his stance on the incident from around the world and said he “had no idea” that he could reach so many people.
“It reminds me that art and theater is a powerful thing,” he told the Broadway site.