Tuesday, 27 Feb 2024

Family ‘mortified and in tears’ after being thrown out of theatre

A family claim they were “mortified and in tears” after being thrown out of the theatre.

John Goddard bought his wife a £50 theatre voucher for Valentine’s Day 2022.

As it was about to expire, they decided to purchase tickets to a matinee performance of Mother Goose as they had a six-week-old baby and wanted to take him along.

The family arrived at the Liverpool Empire Theatre on Wednesday, March 1, and said they were waved through the ticket check and passed “multiple” members of staff without an issue.

It was not until the family sat down, ten minutes before the show was due to begin, that staff told them they had to leave, reports The Liverpool Echo.

John, 35, from St Helens, Merseyside, said: “We were really looking forward to this, my wife had a really tough labour and recovery and I thought this would be a really lovely treat for her.

“We really looked into booking the tickets and checked the terms and conditions to make sure we could take our baby along.

“We arranged for our two and a half year old to be looked after by my parents and I even booked a day off work.

“There were no problems with the staff that checked our tickets, and we passed multiple people and patrons on our way in – people were even cooing over the baby.

“We found our seats and I went to buy us some chocolate, drinks and a programme, but the second I sat back in my seat we were told no babies were allowed in the auditorium and we had to leave.”

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John said he told staff he had checked the terms and conditions and would not be leaving the theatre.

The conditions on the AMG website read “babes in arms (children under 18 months) shall be admitted free of charge to those events they may attend (children’s shows and Pantomimes only)”.

Staff responded by calling security and the family were taken into the foyer.

John said: “By this point my wife was mortified and in tears. Everyone was staring, whispering to each other and we were made to feel like we were the reason everybody else was not watching the show.

“The baby was asleep in my wife’s sling and we even booked an aisle seat so if the baby did cry or need changing, we could leave if we needed to.

“When we went into the foyer they closed the doors and my heart sank because I knew we were not getting back in.

“I understand the staff had a job to do and were just following the party line, they were fine, but at times rude.

“I showed staff the terms and conditions and staff, when challenged about this, they said ‘this particular production has stated no children under age of three’.

“That’s a lie, as Sir Ian McKellen himself said on ITV that babies as young as four months old have been going to the show.”

The family were given a refund and are looking to file an official complaint.

Diane Belding, Liverpool Empire’s theatre director, has now confirmed staff should not have removed John and his family from the audience and has issued an apology.

She said: “I was made aware that a member of our audience was asked to leave ahead of yesterday’s matinee performance of Mother Goose.

“ATG’s policy regarding babes in arms is that infants under 18 months are not permitted.

“An exception is made for children’s shows and pantomimes.

“Although Mother Goose is a pantomime, there is a recommended age guidance of 3yrs+, which caused some confusion with staff.

“On this occasion, we got it wrong and I am very sorry that Mr Goddard was asked to leave.

“We have taken steps to ensure the mistake will not be repeated and I am reaching out to Mr and Mrs Goddard personally to invite them back to the Empire as guests of the venue.”

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