Patti LuPone confiscates patron's cellphone during New York performance

Patti LuPone, cellphone enforcer, strikes again during 'Shows for Days' in New York

Patti LuPone has provided theater fans with another reminder that she has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to cellphone use during live performances. 

The stage star has been known to call out audience members for using their phones during shows, sometimes going as far as to bring a performance to a halt in order to berate the offender. On Wednesday evening, LuPone the Enforcer struck again during a performance of the Douglas Carter Beane play "Shows for Days" in New York.

LuPone confiscated the phone of an audience member during a performance of the comedic play, which is running at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, a spokesman for Lincoln Center Theater confirmed to The Times. 

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The incident took place near the end of the scene when LuPone's character, a larger-than-life head of a community playhouse, usually shakes the hand of an audience member seated in the front row of the theater.

"Last night, Patti noticed that the woman sitting in that seat was on her phone. As she exited, instead of shaking her hand, as she normally would, Patti took the phone out of the woman's hands," the spokesman said in an email.

The phone was later returned by the theater's house manager after the performance. The spokesman said the stage manager's report on the performance confirmed the incident.

"Shows for Days," directed by Jerry Zaks, stars LuPone as a diva-like leader of a community theater company. Michael Urie also stars as a man looking back on his teenage self as he discovers his love for the stage.

LuPone's cellphone intervention was recounted by theatergoers on Twitter on Wednesday evening.

On Thursday, LuPone released a statement that has been published on a number of New York theater blogs: "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. 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 actors on stage. I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore. Now I'm putting battle gear on over my costume to marshal the audience as well as perform."

In 2009, LuPone famously halted a Broadway performance of the musical "Gypsy" to yell at an audience member who reportedly was using a phone to take photos. The incident was captured on video and later posted to YouTube. LuPone was applauded by members of the audience for singling out the offending party.

Cellphone abuse was listed among the top annoyances of theatergoers in a recent survey released by Goldstar, the live-performance ticket company. When asked which form of theater rudeness bugs them the most, 44% of responders said talking while 40.5% said cellphones.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT    

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

Update and correction

11:55 a.m. Added statement from Patti LuPone

11:50 a.m. A previous version of this post attributed a recent theater audience survey to the National Theatre. The study isn't affiliated with the London company.

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