Hold the Phone, It’s Patti LuPone

Patti Lupone

A scene from "Shows for Days" with, from left, Dale Soules, Patti LuPone and Michael Urie.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Source: The New York Times

For Patti LuPone, it was “the day from hell, all day.” At Wednesday’s matinee of the Douglas Carter Beane comedy “Shows for Days,” in which Ms. LuPone plays a small-town theater diva, four cellphones went off, twice from the same phone. It created, as Ms. LuPone put it, “a cacophony of noise.”

So Ms. LuPone was on edge by the evening performance at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. And when the woman seated at the end of the second row texted — and texted and texted — during the show, Ms. LuPone took action. Without breaking character, Ms. LuPone walked into the audience and took the woman’s phone. “She didn’t know what was going on,” Ms. LuPone said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I should be a sleight of hand artist.” (The phone was returned after the show.)

The incident comes on the heels of recent theatrical breaches of audience conduct at “Hand to God,” on Broadway (for an incursion onto the set), and “Hamilton” (for texting) at the Public Theater. Still reeling from Wednesday’s events, Ms. LuPone — who stopped a performance of “Gypsy” in 2009 to berate someone who was taking photographs — talked about the frustration of having to police theatrical etiquette. Following are edited excerpts from the conversation.


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