FISTS flew in the stalls of the Sunderland Empire during a performance of hit West End musical Chicago.
Police were called after two women in the audience began brawling during a courtroom scene of the award-winning show.
Shocked actors in the musical, about two women accused of murder, carried on as best they could as the argument escalated just feet from the stage. Officers then arrived and ejected five people.
The fracas took place during a courtroom scene involving Roxie Hart, one of the show’s lead characters.
Speaking about the incident during Saturday night’s performance, general manager Ben Phillips, said: “We had to remove five people – a lady and her partner and a lady, her daughter and another guest. The matter wasn’t drink-related. It appears the couple were asking the group of three to be quiet as they had been talking throughout the show.
“From that, punches were thrown. But the show carried on.”
He added: “I’ve never had this happen at a theatre before and you don’t expect it at a musical like Chicago. However, our door staff have the same training as bouncers.”
He added: “The Empire doesn’t condone this type of behaviour from its customers.”
Saturday night’s show, starring former EastEnders actor Stefan Booth and former Coronation Street star Tupele Dorgu, was the final one in Chicago’s recent run at the Sunderland Empire.
Set in prohibition-hit Chicago, it follows the trials and tribulations of murderesses Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. The musical has toured the country prior to its arrival in the city.
A spokesman from Northumbria Police said: “Police received a report at 9.45pm on Saturday, March 31 of a fight at the Sunderland Empire between two women.
“Officers attended the scene and spoke to the two women involved. No complaints were made and no police action was taken.”