Patti Lupone Recreates Phone-Snatch

Lupone talked to the New York Times:

“This woman — a very pretty young woman — was sitting with her boyfriend or husband. We could see her text. She was so uninterested. She showed her husband what she was texting. We talked about it at intermission. When we went out for the second act I was very close to her, and she was still texting. I watched her and thought, “What am I going to do?” At the very end of that scene, we all exit. What I normally do is shake the hand of the people in the front row. I just walked over to her, shook her hand and took her phone. I walked offstage and handed it to the stage manager, who gave it to the house manager. I don’t know why they buy the ticket or come to the theater if they can’t let go of the phone. It’s controlling them. They can’t turn it off and can’t stop looking at it. They are truly inconsiderate, self-absorbed people who have no public manners whatsoever. I don’t know what to do anymore. I was hired as an actor, not a policeman of the audience. It’s getting worse. I’m hired to tell a story, and it takes a lot of effort and work to do that convincingly. It’s a handful of people who destroy that experience for everyone. It’s heartbreaking. Theater is not a social event.”

  • Claude Jacques Bonhomme

    Good for you, Ms. Lupone. The self-centered texter was ruining the moment for actors and audience members. Bad manners all around, i.e. total disregard for others.

  • Todd20036

    Have to agree with her. If I spend money to see a play, I shouldn’t be worried about being distracted by someone’s texting.

    Moreover, if I spent half my life to learn how to act in front of a group of people, I cannot think of a bigger insult than an audience member to be more interested in what a text says than what I’m doing up on the stage.

    • Eric in Oakland

      I agree with you. However, I don’t see texting as being nearly as bad as talking or using flash photography. It is much less obtrusive. Also, I wonder if people would feel the same way if an audience member were taking notes on a writing pad or sketching the scene?

      • stevenj

        When your face is all lit up while you are texting it is not unobtrusive to those around you. Lupone said the cast members could see the woman texting during the whole performance. Maybe it’s not as startling to someone on stage as a popping flash of light but it’s still rude to engage with your electronics when you’ve been told to turn it off from the start.

        • Eric in Oakland

          It depends on the type of cell phone and the setting whether it produces a lot of light. If it is enough to be obtrusive then I agree. I tend to have a harder time ignoring sounds, but I realise not everyone is the same.

          • stevenj

            Why would you go to a theater (live or movie) and text through the performance (no matter what the light level of the device) when you have been told to turn it off to begin with? Why not just leave?

          • Eric in Oakland

            Who knows? A lot of people these days seem to feel overly entitled and don’t think that rules apply to them. Just look at all of the antigay clerks.

      • BostonBud

        It’s just as bad. I was sitting behind someone who kept their phone on the glow lit up the whole section. When she started to take picture I got up and told her it was distracting everyone Theatre tickets are not cheap and you’re not in you living room. This is one of the reasons I avoid going to the movies anymore Management needs to start enforcing rules

        • RoFaWh

          Anybody tried asking for their money back because management doesn’t lift a finger to expel the texting addicts from the show?

        • Eric in Oakland

          Point taken. I was not considering the amount of light. If the room is dark enough that could be as distracting as talking…

      • lymis

        I don’t see texting as being nearly as bad a firing up a chainsaw and dismembering nearby patrons, either.

        What’s your point?

        We have to put up with everything short of the worst imaginable distraction?

        • Eric in Oakland

          My point was to explore where the line should be drawn. Talking on the phone is clearly very bad, but taking notes may be acceptable. It seemed to me that texting fell somewhere between the two.

  • Rex

    Cell phones may be a fairly new convention, but common courtesy and manners are not. Some people are totally clueless and self absorbed.

    • Justin

      And personal electronics have given them new and fucking annoying ways of demonstrating that clueless self-absorbtion.

      • RoFaWh

        Hence the roars of laughter at seeing a chronic texter fall into the gutter or a manhole or a fountain in a shopping mall for lack of paying attention to their surroundings.

  • Justin

    Good for her.

  • GP

    Totally agree with Patti. She did the right thing. Cell phone use at a theater should be discouraged, even to the point of establishing a contract with ticket-buyers where they will face criminal prosecution if they use their cell phone OR allow it to ring during a performance.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    I am ordinarily a nonviolent person, but these inconsiderate people and their electronics bring out an overwhelming urge to face-slap.

  • buckguy

    LuPone has a rep for being a bitch, but this is a case where you can’t say it was a bad thing.

    • bambinoitaliano

      One got to be a bitch in any professional setting. Sometimes it’s justify while other time it’s uncalled for. I’ve been there.

    • Lucien

      Patti is a perfectionist, and expects that anyone hired to work with her will take the work as seriously as she does. If she has a reputation for being difficult, it’s only because she’s too old and too experienced to suffer fools.

      Her Sicilian temper gets the best of her sometimes, but she has an enormous heart. Her colleagues overwhelmingly adore her.

  • bambinoitaliano

    She should get the stage hand to take a photo of that woman and post it on twitter, facebook and instagram. That’s the only way to deal with this people who do not understand the traditional form of communication. Shaming on social media is the way to go for the social ignoramus.

    • anne marie in philly


    • 2guysnamedjoe

      The ignoramuses would rack up lots of online followers and “friends” as a result of such shaming. They’d love it.

  • J̶a̶l̶a̶p̶e̶ñJoe Smithson

    Brava, diva, brava!

  • bkmn

    All hail Queen Patti!

    • Drew2U

      …Don’t mess with Mama Rose.

      • Rich Farias

        Or Eva Peron.

        Or Fantine.

  • Bill

    I am SO against these contraptions and SO AGREE with Patti’s action.
    I know of one person that I am sure her cell phone was / is surgically attached to her.
    For myself, going to the theater is ALWAYS an experience that I LOVE.
    Yet, if I am not mistaken, in the “old days” the audience was advised “NO PICTURES ARE ALLOWED”. Naturally there are those IDIOTS.
    If I am not mistaken, Katherine Hepburn, did a One Woman’s Show.
    I was not at this particular performance, but I heard about it. Some IDIOT
    took a photo ( flash of course ) SHE STOPPED THE SHOW and pointed to area where the photo was taken. She DEMANDED, that the person be found and THROWN OUT of the Theater or she would not continue her performance. The person was identified, and escorted out of the theater.
    But there are tons of these “kinds” of stories, and some people remain total idiots………..
    One reviewer at the time said that “Katherine could just read a phone book and that would be enough for him”. I totally agreed. Incredible show.

  • Drew2U

    Good for her. But she should have thought it through, and sent a group text to everyone in her phone book saying “I am an inconsiderate asswipe texting through a show where everyone can see me. I deserve nothing but ridicule.”

  • Toasterlad


    What the fuck are you blowing a couple hundred bucks for if you’re not watching the show?

    Like I said: stupid people should not be allowed to go to theaters.

    • Jafafa Hots

      I see tourists in San Francisco all the time, waling past famous locations, eateries, scenery, architecture, and the whole while they are looking at their phone.

      Watching a map to see where their destination is instead of looking at the beauty and reading the signs… walking along tracing their steps in a screen, looking for interesting “sights” via google maps instead of with their eyes…

      Missing the whole experience.

      I love it when they walk into poles.

      “How was your San Francisco trip?”
      “Well. funny thing… it was a lot like Candy Crush Saga.”

  • Cuberly

    “Patti Lupone Recreates Phone-Snatch”

    Um, not that I’m a dirty dirty birdy birdy but that headline can be taken a number of ways. Ahem…

  • Palmer

    What Ms. Lapone did was just perfect. But I will quibble with one small part of her statement.

    To me theatre is an incredibly social event. A group of people gathered together to suspend disbelief and hear a story told to them by another group of people. That, to me, is the perfect definition of “social”.

    • Toasterlad

      Agreed, but I believe she was referring to the fact that the audience is not there to socialize, via internet or otherwise, but to watch the show.

    • David in Tucson

      I would agree in this: theatre and concerts are social contracts between the performers and the audience. The performers act, or sing, or play, to the very best of their ability, and the audience agrees to be engaged in seeing and listening to the performance to the best of THEIR abilities, without distracting the performers. The performers KNOW if the audience is engaged or not. They really do! When everything works, magic happens. When things break down, well, the result is just a bit “off” at best, or a disaster at worst.

      • Palmer

        Being a theatre actor I’ve experienced all three of those phenomenon.

  • Joseph Miceli

    She was totally justified. While I agree with her, she is NOT the “Manners Police,” the offense was against her and the members of the audience. As a representative of the establishment, she was perfectly correct in her actions.
    Cell phones really have made us more rude, less able to pay attention to our companions and have also reduced our attention span. Mind drifted for a moment…well…why NOT check Facebook?
    Time to put the phone down.

  • bambinoitaliano
    • J̶a̶l̶a̶p̶e̶ñJoe Smithson

      He was drinking underage, in public, earlier with his parents. Mom had this to say:

      In retrospect, what would he say to the cast? “Hey, I’m sorry if I delayed your show five minutes. But you got a lot of attention from this, so maybe I made your show a little better [better known].”

      and we wonder where it comes from.


      • bambinoitaliano

        Future rethuglican candidate for sure. Manage to spin his shitty behaviour into something beneficial for the good of others.

  • Anastasia Beaverhousen

    While watching “It’s Only a Play” a few weeks back, the lady next to me kept using her phone to film it. I wanted to tell her to put it away, or her and the phone were going over the balcony, like that flask during “The Sound Of Music” sing-a-long.

    • J̶a̶l̶a̶p̶e̶ñJoe Smithson

      My hubby and I attended “Always, Patsy Cline” and the ignoramus in front of us was singing along, loudly and off key for the entire first act. We were second row, front center, he was first row, front center. It was obvious he was distracting the performer because she kept looking at him and pushed her ear monitor in to get a better lock on the score. This was not the sing along part. That comes at the end. I tapped ignoramus on the shoulder and asked him to stop. Scene, and CUT. Show was stopped for his fit, house lights came on, ignoramus and his wife escorted out, audience applauds, show goes on.

      • Bill

        LOL…………my grandmother at the time was in her late 80’s early 90’s. BUT she knew her show tunes and really a rather decent voice.
        In error, my husband and I took her to a Rita Mareno and Carol Channing Show. The show starts, the songs for the 2 Stars start, then all of a sudden “so did my grandmother”. I tell her to shush and stop “people are looking at us”. My Grandmother hits me on my arm, and continues.
        THANK THE BLUE SKIES ABOVE she did have a good voice. Also the people around us “thought it was so dear”.
        All went well without a scene. THEN later in the years, Carol did “Hello Dolly” again in NYC. My Grandmothers nick name was Dolly. We thought about bringing her to that show, but we figured “better not push our luck”, Especially when the song with “Well Hello Dolly”. Nope decided not to press that button nor take the chance.
        Yes………..she was a HOOT……..

        • J̶a̶l̶a̶p̶e̶ñJoe Smithson

          She sounds like quite a woman and I’m sure you are a better man from her influence on you. Such a sweet memory. Thank you for sharing that.

          • Bill

            SNORTING…….just the opposite. I was dammed to Hell 101 times per day. I don’t believe in Nursing homes.
            So I took on the job, THEN I realized, “She was raised as a Princess, and her Husband, treated her as such”
            Hence after 6 months of abuse, I realized 2 Queens cannot live together, hence she was dethroned. AND RETRAINED.
            But I have no regrets, the last years of her life she “had a blast” and LOVED P-Town and the Tea Dances. She’d be shimming in her wheelchair and pinching everyone butts.

          • J̶a̶l̶a̶p̶e̶ñJoe Smithson

            You are still a good man. I’m sure of it.

  • GarySFBCN

    What good is it going to the theater or to a concert if you can’t check-in on Facebook (geezers, it is how you tell your closest Facebook friends, you know, the ones you have never actually met, where you are), send a few Tweets and post Instagram or two during the performance? How will people know how cool I am and what a great life I have?

    Shame on Patti.

    • westcoast88

      Ha Ha Very Funny.
      Everyone knows that courtesy and manners REQUIRE you to do those things before the lights go up or during the intermission, NEVER during the performance.
      Nice try making us think that you are a big jerk.
      I recognize sarcasm when I hear it!

  • Tom P

    OMG! Patti Lupone, in just a few sentences, just summed up why I quit teaching! It’s funny… teachers have been dealing with this incivility for at least a decade and a half… now that it’s affecting actors, maybe more people will take notice of how dreadfully draining this is to any social experience.

  • SLK in SF

    So, in other words, she played The Snatch Game? 😉

  • rextrek1

    well I can only say – since I’ve experienced it – on trains / buses….people talk in a loud voice as if no-one is around…I don’t need to hear their friggin conversation, and neither does half the bus……

  • uhhuhh

    Sorry, but snatching someone else’s property out of their hand is unlawful. Let’s see a crowd applauding as a county clerk recreates the similarly unlawful act of denying gay applicants a marriage license. Rule of law or no rule of law?

  • Leo Pola

    That moron at the end of the clip who says he now uses his watch for texting better not try it while Patti is onstage – she’ll rip his hand off.

    • gaymex

      and she should.

  • David in Tucson

    These kinds of things were going on long before cell phones. I’m remembering something that happened about thirty years ago. We were at a performance by Vladimir Ashkenazy, a world-class pianist. The music was wonderful. However, a woman had brought a three-year old to the concert, and gave the little girl a plastic grocery bag to play with. This went on and on until finally the man sitting in front of these two in one swift move turned around, grabbed the bag, and threw it down at his feet, where the bag remained silently for the rest of the first half. At intermission, the stupid mother reclaimed the bag and gave it back to the child, but at least they moved way to the back of the balcony. We heard no more out of them.

    On another occasion, during a Mahler symphony, a gentleman who apparently didn’t like Mahler spent the entire time walking back and forth at the back of the balcony, jingling his keys.

    From the cell phone era: Yo-Yo Ma was playing one of the Bach cello suites, the audience was in heaven, and someone’s cell phone went off. There was audible gasping and groaning from the audience. It seemed forever before the cell phone was silenced.

  • Dave B

    Do you remembers the days when we would take our Smith-Corona’s in to the theater to keep up with correspondence?

    • Bob Conti

      Mine was my trusty Royal 440 that I used throughout college.

      • gaymex

        I always took a tape recorder and a long extension cord so I could do a running commentary.

  • Patti Lou Phone

    Won’t end well for Patti. Predicting lawsuits and/or assault charges the first time she touches someone while illegally taking their phone; and possible physical injury (to Lupone) by someone who is either mentally unstable, or chemically enhanced.

    Future employment contracts for Lupone should ban this type of behavior on her part, or some production will face damages as a result.

    She is right–she’s not hired to be an etiquette policeperson. If she’s advanced enough in age that she doesn’t have the ability to ignore this type of distraction, perhaps she is no longer employable

  • e jerry powell

    What, no mention of LuPone’s co-star Michael Urie?

    But seriously, considering ticket prices these days — even for Off-Broadway — I would hope people who pay to go to the theater would actually be engaged with the performance. Stying at home and engaging with your phone is free.

    In her own words:

    I don’t know why they buy the ticket or come to the theater if they can’t let go of the phone. It’s controlling them. They can’t turn it off and can’t stop looking at it. They are truly inconsiderate, self-absorbed people who have no public manners whatsoever. I don’t know what to do anymore. I was hired as an actor, not a policeman of the audience.

  • Love her! She’s the only one that can sing Anything Goes to my unreasonably exacting tastes.

  • KaBoomBOX

    Well, technically it is a “social event”, but it isn’t a “social media event”. She did the right thing and that woman should feel fucking ashamed.

  • Lewis Seattle

    I blame rock and roll. No, seriously. I’m 70. I’ve never been to a rock and roll concert, and will die without having done so. Okay, the hate speech can begin. Fuck rock and roll. Where is style, where is taste, where is forethought? Nobody even says “ooops”, when they’re passing their gas.

  • JCF

    Pat-ti! Pat-ti! Pat-ti!

  • noni

    Is a phone-snatch a new gender identity I’m not aware of?

    Speak loudly into my phone-snatch.