An unidentified man gave a Nazi salute and shouted “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!” as the audience returned from intermission for act two of Fiddler on the Roof at the Hippodrome yesterday, the Baltimore Sun reported today.
Ushers quickly surrounded the man as audience members left the theater for the lobby, many afraid that the outburst would be a prelude to gunfire, according to the Sun. Security officers escorted him out of the building and into the waiting arms of the Baltimore police, who, according to the Sun, issued him a stop ticket. The Sun described a stop ticket as “the least severe measure police can take when responding to a complaint.”
“As reprehensible as those words are, they are considered protected free speech because nobody was directly threatened,” the Sun quotes police spokesman Matt Jablow as saying in an email.
According to a Facebook posting by Nina Pachino, audience members shouted back at the man. The production mounted the second Act following the disrupted intermission.
Afterward, the Hippodrome released a statement which said, in part:
“Behavior like we saw during intermission at Wednesday evening’s performance is not, and will not be, tolerated. The Hippodrome’s on-site security team, along with our usher staff were able to remedy the situation and remove the offending audience member quickly, coordinating efforts with local police, who met the man as he was escorted out of the building.
“The France-Merrick Performing Arts Center takes the security and safety of its subscribers and patrons seriously. We employ a full team of professional security personnel, who are always on premise during live events to implement bag checks, provide screening and metal detection, and to monitor cameras throughout the venue.
“We apologize to those patrons who were affected by this unfortunate incident. …”
Fiddler on the Roof is the story of a poor Jewish community in the hostile environs of Tsarist Russia, adapted from the Sholem Aleichem short story collection Tevye and his Daughters. Fiddler on the Roof‘s Bock-Harnick scores features such iconic songs as “Sunrise, Sunset” and “If I Were a Rich Man”. In the scene immediately preceding the intermission, brutal thugs in the Tsar’s army, executing a pogrom, interrupt a Jewish wedding, smashing gifts and hitting the guests.