Rep. Lauren Boebert, the Republican firebrand from Colorado, found herself in the spotlight for reasons other than politics when she was escorted out of a Denver theater during a weekend performance of the musical Beetlejuice.
Boebert, who is in her second term in Congress and running for re-election in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, was reportedly vaping and filming on her phone throughout the evening. She admits that she was singing along — so loudly, according to nearby audience members, that theater staff eventually booted her and a male companion from the venue and the Denver Police Department was called.
The event occurred on Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Buell Theatre, which is owned and operated by the city of Denver.
According to an incident report obtained by Yahoo News, theater staff received “three different complaints” from audience members that Boebert and a male companion (identified by the Daily Mail as Quinn Gallagher, co-owner of a bar in Aspen) were “vaping, singing” and “causing a disturbance” by taking photos and videos from their seats throughout the performance.
The congresswoman's camp later denied she was vaping, but in newly released footage (below), Boebert is seeing pulling out a vape pen during intermission and blowing smoke towards the seats in front of her.
NEW: GOP Rep Lauren Boebert denied vaping during a Denver Center for the Performing Arts musical before being kicked out Sunday. @Marshall9News got the video. Take a look. #copolitics pic.twitter.com/VtT67Vn4L9
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) September 15, 2023
Theater staff gave the pair a verbal warning, as noted in the report, and said that the couple would be asked to leave if their behavior continued.
Ushers continued to receive complaints "about five minutes into Act 2." When Boebert and her date refused to settle down, ushers called security and the Denver Police Department to step in.
“I escort[ed] them with security and DPD [Denver Police Department] to outside the doors to the galleria and asked DPD to monitor them until they left the property, and they left after a couple of minutes,” a theater employee said in the police incident report.
In a statement to Yahoo News, a spokesperson for the city of Denver says that “house staff at the Buell have the right to and routinely deny entry or remove any patrons not adhering to the guest policies,” which include vaping and taking video/photography.
As seen in released security footage, Boebert and her date are ushered out of their seats and into the lobby, after which, as noted in the report, security and the DPD escorted them out of the building.
The report claims that, as she exited, Boebert repeatedly shouted: “Do you know who I am?” “I am on the board,” and “I will be contacting the mayor.”
How did the audience and cast react?
One of the audience members who complained was a pregnant woman in her 30s who told the Denver Post that she was sitting behind Boebert during the show. The woman called the representative’s behavior “outrageous” and claimed that Boebert offered to buy the audience member and her husband alcoholic cocktails.
“I’m pregnant!” she told the paper. “I’ve never seen anyone act like that before.”
The woman claimed she asked Boebert to stop vaping at one point, which the congresswoman refused. “At intermission, I asked, ‘Are there any other seats available? Can we sit somewhere else?’ The usher said, ‘You’re not the first complaint we had,’” she recalled.
Sean McManus, a Beetlejuice cast member on stage that night, shared his account in a TikTok video, noting that he remembers “somebody laughing very loudly and being very obnoxious.”
He credited the theater staff for handling the situation in a “diplomatic” way. “There was not a big outburst that some might suggest had happened,” McManus stressed.
“To be honest, you are no more special than the next person,” the actor said at the end of his video. “You bought a ticket just like everybody else and you are not entitled to make it your show. You paid to watch what’s going on in front of you not to be the spectacle yourself.”
Boebert offers lessons on theater etiquette
Despite the fuss, Boebert responded in jest in a post on X (formerly Twitter), where she praised the “AMAZING” show: “I plead guilty to laughing and singing too loud,” she wrote. “Everyone should go see it if you get the chance this week and please let me know how it ends!”
It's true, I did thoroughly enjoy the AMAZING Beetlejuice at the Buell Theatre and I plead guilty to laughing and singing too loud! 🤭
Everyone should go see it if you get the chance this week and please let me know how it ends! 😅https://t.co/8JHypcCKsP
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) September 12, 2023
In a separate response to Yahoo News, Boebert campaign manager Drew Sexton said that she “is indeed a supporter of the performing arts and was genuinely thrilled to make her first trip to Buell Theater” that night of the performance, adding that she has “nothing but the highest regard and respect for the performers.”
To that end, he says there are “important lessons learned that the congresswoman would pass along to others” attending the theater. Those lessons include, in part:
No photos and recording is a very hard rule and must be abided by at all times.
Please refrain from singing. The guests around you are there to hear the performers!
Introduce yourself to the guests around you before the play starts. They’re excited to be there as well, and it may prevent any unfortunate miscommunications or misheard requests from leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth during or after the performance. Every guest deserves to enjoy the performance, even if they consume art differently than you do.
Be thoughtful about your outfit. The whole world may wind up seeing it.
If you’re going with a group or with a guest, make sure they share your enthusiasm for the arts and double-check their partisan affiliation.
“Put these lessons to good use there or at any performing-arts venue,” Dexton says. “While Sunday's trip didn’t end the way the congresswoman wanted or intended it to, she still strongly recommends Coloradans see Beetlejuice in its final weekend at the Buell.”
Dexton adds that Boebert “is hopeful that some good can come from this unanticipated situation” and that hopefully "someone who hasn’t given a musical a chance before is willing to go see what all the fuss is about.” But please remember, he concluded, “No photos!"