5-Year-Old Girl Gets Kicked Out of Disney Play for Making 'Happy Noises'

Heartbreaking 54

Earlier this month, Samantha Torres and her developmentally disabled 5-year-old daughter attended a performance of Beauty and the Beast at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island. The little girl was having a wonderful time and expressing happiness over the show, but she never got to see the ending -- because Torres and her daughter were asked to leave the theater.

As much as I emphasize with this mom and wish I could be on her side for this incident, I can't. The theater's employees may have blundered their approach to Torres, but they had every right to remove the family mid-performance.

Torres says her daughter Nadia, who suffers from a chromosome abnormality and can't speak, was making noises to indicate her happiness during the Disney musical. Nadia was "squealing, giggling, and humming" when, according to Torres, ushers kicked her entire party (which included Torres' other child and a nurse) out of the theater:

They did not ask me to leave. They told me I had to leave.

Theater marketing director P.J. Prokop denies this, saying that when the little girl began distracting other audience members, the group was offered different seats. He added,

It is the theater's responsibility to try and ensure that everyone can hear and have a good time.

Torres claims she was never given the chance to relocate and that they were already sitting near the rear of the 3,100-seat theater. She also said the only people bothered by Nadia were the ushers.

It's quite the he-said/she-said conundrum, and who knows what really happened. But here's my feeling: if the little girl was distracting other people, that's a problem. It doesn't matter what the reason is. I feel terrible for the mom who must have felt discriminated against, but the theater employees had every right to mitigate the situation. I hope they truly did start by attempting to find a solution that let the girl stay, but even if they simply asked the family to leave, that's their job.

We'd expect an usher to do something if an audience member was being a distraction. Personally, I would never complain about the noise someone was making if I could tell they couldn't help it -- and honestly, this was Beauty and the Beast, so I imagine that there were plenty of kids in attendance who weren't exactly sitting immobilized and silent the whole time. Still, the ushers were in the awkward position of having to deal with the noise, and I really doubt they'd have gone to the trouble of taking action if it was true that the girl wasn't bothering anyone.

The good news about this unpleasant incident is that there's a silver lining for the mom: Torres plans to take up the theater on an offer to conduct sensitivity training for ushers, and she's also working with the Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council to develop a guide on how entertainment venues can prepare for people with disabilities.

I think it's going to have a happy ending for a lot of people.

What do you think about this story? Do you think the theater went too far, or did they do the right thing?


Image via Saipal/Flickr

in the news, special needs

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nonmember avatar lisakphillips

On person's happy noise is another's disruption. Movies are ridiculously over-priced and people don't want to make accomodations. No, I wouldn't be happy if it were my kid, but perhaps she should have tried to arrange something with the theatre ahead of time.

keelh... keelhaulrose

I feel bad for the girl and her mother. I'm willing to bet the truth is somewhere between the two stories. There had to be some accommodation that could have been made, even if it was letting her sit at the very back of the theater by a door her mom could take her out through if she got too loud. I don't see why the nurse and the sister had to leave as well.


That said the theater is very expensive. I went to a show this last weekend and would have been very irritated had someone near me been distracting during the performance. The show was very good about pausing after songs for applause and after funny lines for laughs, and the audience knew to quiet immediately when the dialogue resumed. It's theater etiquette, and while I want to advise for the girl we shouldn't discount the people around her who paid money to see a show they may not have been able to hear.

Caera Caera

All that matters is was the girl making noise in a venue where people paid for tickets to see a show, not hear her?


If the answer is yes, then she shouldn't have been there in the first place.

nonmember avatar J

Oh yes Caera, that's ALL that matters. Oh please. I agree with keelhaulrose. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Patrons who paid good money to see a show should not have to be distracted by noises or other people. Kind of like paying good money to see an 18 and over movie that someone brought their 3 year old too, really? However, does that mean this girl is never to experience a play or a show or a movie?

It's not like she was some drunk obnoxious guest, she couldn't help it. I certainly think accomidations can and should be made. These kids live life trapped in bodies they can't control, they deserve some fun experiences too. Not to just be kept at home because they can't stay quiet.

nonmember avatar skipper

My daughter is non-verbal but can make "happy sounds", grunts and screams like this little girl does. I don't take my daughter to any kind of theater or tight group settings b/c she can be very distracting. It absolutely kills me and breaks my heart that I can't take her places like healthy children. I want to cry for this mom b/c I know how she feels. It is devastating.

01REI... 01REINALEXSUS01

This is ridiculous! And for any of you to agree with the ushers, shame on you! If you are going to take your kids to a kid affiliated event then you should be prepared to hear other children's noises. I bet there where all kinds of kids in there making louder noises then her. This was an act of discrimination. 

Njgrl226 Njgrl226

Those that say she should have been kicked out because others paid for tickets and not to hear her (Caera) should probably attend sensitivity training themselves. I've been there and know how that mother must have felt. They would have no idea the scene I would have caused myself if they asked my family to leave.

Colleen Wedden

I can't believe how insensitive and discriminatory we have become. I would have paid just to here happy noises from a special needs child. This happens to be my child's favorite movie as well, and he too is special needs. I understand people paid to see the movie but so did this family. I understand that it may have been distracting coming from a text and drive nation who all multitask. She was just as entitled to be there.

nonmember avatar BamBam

I take it you meant you EMPATHIZE with the mom

Hello07 Hello07

This is a kids movie so I'd be inclined to have more patience with noise but I think the users were right. I can't tell you how many times I went to a movie and someone's kids were making noise and distracting from the movie. I pay a ridiculous amount of money to see a movie and my experience shouldn't be ruined because of your child; regardless of what the reason is. Is that unfair to parents with disabled children? Yes. But the world isn't fair and its ridiculous to expect a whole audience full of people who paid good money to be there to have to cater to you.

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