A rash of shenanigans have occurred on the hallowed Broadway stage in the past few weeks and now it’s time for them to stop.
When a Broadway baby says goodnight it’s early in the morning; Manhattan babies don’t sleep tight until the dawn—yes, yes, we know. But maybe Broadway babies should do their jobs while they’re on stage, rather than make quips about the audience, hmm? Like a wannabe class clown trying too hard after getting his first in-class laugh, a theater actor’s smirking bon mot toward a late or otherwise rude audience member may say something apt or mildly clever, but it screams, “I have envisioned this moment many times before.” It is unbecoming.
Earlier this week, TV actor Jim Parsons reportedly heckled a latecomer at a performance of his Broadway show An Act of God. “A little late, aren’t you?” asked (“quipped”) Parsons, according to the New York Post. “You’re lucky I’m God and not Patti LuPone!” Ha-ha—yech. Enough.
Taking time out of your job to indulge your revenge fantasy and get an off-book laugh is, uh, indulgent like I said, and also rude. We did not make you take on the job of play actor, performing the same piece multiple times per day for months—do not take your boredom out on us, those who are here to see this performance most likely for the first and only time. Do the play and ignore the latecomer.
Parsons was mostly likely referencing a 2009 incident during which LuPone yelled at an audience member for taking photos during a performance of Gypsy:
...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 marshall the audience as well as perform.
The official Twitter account of Hand to God, a popular Broadway play that gleefully made headlines earlier this month when a young patron attempted to charge his cellphone on set before the show began, saw an opportunity to attach its caboose to the attention train before it pulled out of the station forever, by making a Lupone graphic.
The following day—more than a week after the original charger incident—the Hand to God Twitter account showily accepted the public apology of the young man who had attempted to plug in his phone.
Please note also the thirsty manner in which the Hand to God official Twitter conducted itself in the immediate aftermath of what it and no one else eventually began calling “ChargerGate”:
I’m no Broadway anarchist. I’m no “Steve Ignorant” of the “Great White Way.” I think you should get to the theater on time, shut off your phone entirely, shut your mouth, and I think you should dress up a little. Why would you wear sweatpants to a play? You wear sweatpants all the time, I bet, no offense, and you paid a lot of money to see this play. Put on hard pants (but not jeans).
However: Everyone on Broadway should stop it.
It is bad enough when comedians heckle the audience, and you are not a comedian. You are a person in (or perhaps running the social media account of) a play. A Broadway baby, so to speak. So: Goodnight, baby. Good night, the milkman’s on his way. Sleep tight, baby.
Sleep tight, let’s call it a day.