Patti LuPone plays Irene, the diva of a local community theatre troupe in Douglas Carter Beane’s new dark comedy "Shows for Days," now playing at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. And at Wednesday evening’s performance, LuPone took her character one step further, confiscating a cellphone from an audience member who was texting during the show.
LuPone grabbed the phone at a point in the show where her character goes out into the audience, shakes an audience member’s hand, and then exits the theater, according to reports. But in this case, she snatched the phone out of a woman’s hand, who was sitting in the front row. The phone was returned after the show ended.
"We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones," LuPone said in a statement. "They cannot put them down. When a phone goes off or when a LED screen can be seen in the dark it ruins the experience for everyone else –- the majority of the audience at that performance and the actor on stage.”
“I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore.” LuPone continued. “Now I’m putting battle gear on over my costume to marshal the audience as well as perform."
This isn’t the first time bad behavior got a theatergoer in trouble this week. A man at Broadway’s “Hand to God” was scolded for trying to charge his phone on stage, in an outlet built into the show’s set.
It’s also not the first time LuPone has gone to war over theater etiquette. She notably stopped a performance of “Gypsy” back in 2009, during her final number, “Rose’s Turn,” yelling at an audience member who was taking pictures.
LuPone followed suit a few months later during a concert at the Las Vegas’ Orleans Hotel, stopping “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” to confront an audience member using an electronic device and threatening to have him removed if it happened again.
“Do you think I am alone in this?” LuPone told the New York Times following the Vegas concert. “Ask any performer on Broadway right now about their level of frustration with this issue.”
“Shows for Days" runs through Aug. 23 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, 150 W. 65th St. Tickets: $77-$87. Call 212-239-6200.