HUNDREDS of people were evacuated from Warrnambool's showpiece Lighthouse Theatre last night.
Theatre-goers were shocked as water suddenly began pouring from the fire sprinklers soaking the front five rows.
The theatre, which seats more than 500 people, was at near capacity when what began as a light shower turned into a torrent of water at 8.55pm, about 50 minutes into the Divine Divas performance.
There were shrieks of disbelief from the front rows, with some audience members thinking it was part of the performance.
As hundreds of people rushed toward the exits, some with umbrellas at the ready, others milled around watching helplessly as water flooded down the stairs between rows of seats.
"It felt like snowing or sleeting on my lap and I actually thought at first that it was part of the show - like the smoke and the lights," Warrnambool’s Linda Wright told
"It was getting wetter and heavier then I realised I was getting drenched.
"It was chaos. Everyone was getting up out of their seats and trying to move forwards and looking confused."
It was unclear last night why the sprinklers went off.
After the theatre had been evacuated, theatre manager Greg Diamantis addressed the crowd, telling them the performance would either be rescheduled or tickets would be refunded.
"If you can please contact us on Monday or Tuesday... we can't give you information about that tonight."
Divine Divas director and performer Warren Russell, who was performing on stage when the chaos broke out, said he had no idea what happened
"The fire alarms went off and the sprinklers in the auditorium... I don't know what was going on," he said.
The Lighthouse Theatre underwent a $9 million facelift in the past year, only reopening to the public in April.
Fire officers attended the scene but were unavailable for comment last night.