In the Broadway musical Ragtime, when Sarah tries to get near enough to the President to talk to him, so terrified are the Secret Service agents of assassinations, they push Sarah back and beat her to death.
Certainly President Bill Clinton's security staff wanted neither an assassination attempt nor a mob scene to ensue when the Chief Executive, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Al Gore all went to see an Apr. 26 matinee performance of Ragtime in Washington DC.
According to a story in Variety (May 7), the entire Ragtime cast had to go through metal detectors before entering the theatre. Also, they were told not to point any of the prop guns in the President's direction and to fire their rifles in the air (rather than at the crowd) during the riot sequence.
The only really tense moment came, according to Variety, when the Secret Service's bomb-sniffing dogs all sat down -- a cue that there might be a bomb in the theatre. It turned out they simply detected low-level dynamite used as a special effect in the show.
Speaking after the performance, President Clinton was quoted by AP as saying, "Yes, this is the story of America. It reminds us that we have a good system and the best ideals, but we always fall a little short... The story of our country has to be the continuing effort to overcome our own individual flaws and imperfections and tendency to fall into injustice and bigotry and oppression, greed and shortsightedness." Livent spokesperson Grant Ramsay noted that the matinee crowd was rather partial to Clinton -- the Democrat National Committee was having its 150th anniversary weekend and bought out the entire show for that performance.
Steve Reed, a worker on the DC production, posted photos and an account of the Clinton visit on a personal website.