Patti LuPone teaches a lesson in acceptable audience behavior
Patti LuPone as Irene in Douglas Carter Beane's Shows for Days
On her way to her matinee performance Wednesday, Patti called in to talk to WNYC guest host Jami Floyd (and the station's former business and economics editor, now entertainment editor, Charlie Herman) about disruptive audience behavior.
Patti begins her conversation with Jami Floyd (and, later, Charlie Herman) by clarifying that she didn't stop that show last week. This CNN link is wrong when it says, "While doing a scene, LuPone reached down and plucked the phone from the spectator's hands." Patti says she has never stopped a show, except this one time when a flash went off as she was about to begin "Rose's Turn."
She definitely did "palm" the cell phone of the audience member in question, but it was while she was making her entrance for Act II. As she was passing through the upstage audience in the intimate, arena-style 284-seat Mitzi Newhouse Theater, shaking hands as usual with audience members, she made the grab from a woman up top who'd been visibly ("in full light") texting all through Act I. (Patti points out that during the woman's Act I textathon, she showed her phone to her husband, who failed to stop her.)
In response to a question from Jami, Patti leaves no doubt that in her mind theater audiences have become vastly and intolerably more disruptive than they used to be -- and that they're not being controlled. In most of the media coverage, including the Brian Lehrer Show Web page that includes the above podcast, reference is made to Patti giving a lesson in "theater etiquette," which is true enough, I suppose, but seems to me to suggest that it's just a matter of a wee bit of audience sauciness.
It's not. It's a big deal. Patti suggests that theater managements should be a lot freer about throwing disruptive patrons out of the theater, and she and Jami agree that audiences would cheer that.
If you're Patti LuPone, you don't shy away from dealing one-on-one with intolerable audience behavior. You go, Patti!
Unimpeded by camera flashes, Patti performs "Rose's Turn" during her 2008 Broadway run as Mama Rose in Gypsy.
And for the 2008 Tony Awards show, Patti belted out "Everything's Coming Up Roses."
Labels: cell phones