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January 20, 2009 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Patti Lupone freaks out - mid-song - at someone taking pictures during a performance of "Gypsy." Audio clip on YouTube. Dished about at Gawker and The Village Voice.

And now let's all say a quick little prayer that Patti never finds the poor sap who recorded that and then posted it to the web.
posted by greekphilosophy (50 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
As I recall, Brian Dennehy did something similar not long ago - briefly breaking character to yell at someone who left their cellphone on.

It would have been nice if he'd gone into the audience and beat him to a pulp as well, but you can't have everything.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:08 PM on January 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


In the 80s, I went with my high school class to see a production of Hamlet in Stratford, Ontario, during which one of the actors stepped out of character and asked a student, from another school, to stop throwing coins. Following this, he stepped right back into character as though nothing had happened.

Sometimes I wish the villains would step down off the movie screen and snap the necks of cell-phone users.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:09 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


That YT video would have been so much cooler if it was actually a video of the event.
posted by Elmore at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2009


I like how everyone involved in this story has varying degrees of brain damage.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:12 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mama doesn't care.
Mama's lettin' loose.
Mama's got the stuff.
Mama's lettin' go.
posted by piratebowling at 3:12 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


To bad it didn't happen while she was in Sweeney Todd. She could have made a meat pie out of him.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:17 PM on January 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't cross Corky's mom, man.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2009


honestly, I hate it when actors can't just keep their cool and continue the show. on the other hand, I hate it when people in the audience act like tremendous dickholes.

anyone remember when ushers actually did something? I sure as hell don't, but i've heard about it. seems to me we need ushers to police audiences nowadays. I don't know what it's like for everybody else, but with the exception of the independent movie theater near me, going to the movies has become an exercise in frustration every single time I go. there needs to be a serious crackdown on cell phones and acting out during screenings and performances. I know how much I sound like an old man with the lawn and whatnot, but for real I can't see anything in theaters without a problem anymore.
posted by shmegegge at 3:29 PM on January 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Holy crap.





Mom???
posted by mudpuppie at 3:29 PM on January 20, 2009


She got a standing ovation after she finished the song. As well she should! Bravo, Patti!
posted by crossoverman at 3:32 PM on January 20, 2009


As if this couldn't be more crazy: rumor has it that the photographer had been following her around for a week as part of a magazine article.

He decided to go out to the front to snap some of the big moments in the show, she forgot he was allowed to be there, and the rest is history.
posted by cvp at 3:38 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


As one of the VV commenters observed...

LuPwned
posted by Joe Beese at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've seen a production of Little Murders that starts with an usher shooting an unruly patron before the lights go down for the show.
posted by 2sheets at 3:41 PM on January 20, 2009


Not only singled him out, but had him EJECTED. Awesome!

It's ironic that we're reveling in this via secret recording, but at least an audio recorder doesn't interfere with what's happening onstage.

I saw Nellie McKay perform once at a pretty intimate venue, and after several flash photographs during her set, she finally stopped and very politely said she'd be sure to linger after the show and pose for photos, but to PLEASE stop snapping her while she sang. Less than ten minutes later, someone up front took another photo. People are so terribly, terribly impulsive, selfish and inconsiderate.
posted by hermitosis at 3:46 PM on January 20, 2009


She was the only one with the power to do what everyone else in the theater wanted to do themselves.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:58 PM on January 20, 2009


Man.... as much as I hate La Lupone, this was pretty hilarious to hear.
posted by bookwo3107 at 4:11 PM on January 20, 2009


Blog about the LuPone meltdown by publicist Amanda Ameer, who was in the audience and not amused.
posted by terranova at 4:25 PM on January 20, 2009


imagine what she would have done if she'd known someone was bootlegging the audio.
posted by msconduct at 4:40 PM on January 20, 2009


"Who do you think you are?"

Um, a photographer ?
posted by skullbee at 4:42 PM on January 20, 2009


The thing about not allowing flash photography in a theatre, first and foremost, is that its a safety issue.

To whit, flashes, as you know, tend to temporarily effect a person's vision. If you're on stage focusing on your character, your song, your dance, whatever and you're suddenly temporarily blind, you are a danger to your fellow performers and to yourself. The odds are greater that you're going to trip over something, bump into somebody, or fall off the stage.

Obviously, its also tremendously distracting to the performers and to your fellow audience members. The click and the flash have both serve to draw attention away from the stage and on to the photographer. Even if you're trying to focus past it, the human ear and eye tend to focus on sudden, sharp noises and bright flashes. Its part of our survival instinct.

The ushers obviously should have addressed this before it became a problem - though I know the underpaid folks who serve as ushers know that their intervention tends to escalate the disctraction. A person obnoxious enough to take photos (or violate any common norm of general theater etiquette) is also a person obnoxious enough to make a scene when they're asked to stop.

Had the audience member been talking on the phone or doing some other obnoxious - but not dangerous - thing, I would have less sympathy for Ms. LuPone. As it stands, an idiot taking flash photos during a show (and if it was a professional photographer, he or she really should have known better) is putting the safety of the performers at risk. If this sort of dressing down helps reinforce the understanding that flash photography is not acceptable during performances in the U.S.A. (and its debatable whether it helps or not), then good for LuPone.

Now, that all said, I was in the unusual position of being a westerner performing Beijing opera in China about twenty years ago. When I walked out onto stage, I was blinded by the number of flashes that went off. This continued for most of the show. The photohtaphers were crowded around the front of the stage and stayed there, in the way of the front row of the audience, for most of the show, shooting flash pictures like mad whenever a Caucasian in traditional make-up came out.

The night before we performed, we attended a performance of the traditional Jingju "Hua Mulan" and, as visiting "celebrities," the local paparazzi took flash photos of us while we were watching the show - indeed, while the show was going on. They also attempted to interview us, which made us profoundly uncomfortable because we didn't want to talk during the performance. Our hosts from the theater told us that we should just go ahead and talk with them. They didn't really understand out reluctance to talk in the theatre (though my understanding is that its at least kind of annoying to Chinese performers, too).

That said, acceptable theater behavior is very different in China. Furthermore, the house lights in this particular theater were up and we could clearly see the edge of the stage. And, of course, we'd been warned well in advance that this going to happen so we weren't surprised by it.

Of course, nobody could hear the clicks of the camera because Beijing opera is so fricken' loud. In fact, I think this is part of why its ok to talk in the audience at a Beijing opera performance. Nobody can hear you.

Also, Beijing opera performers are frequently heavily armed (albeit with stage props, but they look pretty threatening) so, on the whole, I'd rather be chewed out by Mama Rose than by one of the women generals of the Yang family.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:51 PM on January 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


You do this to Bjork, she hands you your ass.

And then sings about it -- *sweetly*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:11 PM on January 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Patti gets a standing ovation when she does her final song in every performance of that show. I saw her in it. Magnificent...I do recall being at one Broadway play not long ago and the guy next to me snapped a photo. Usher, just behind him, grabbed his arm and told him to delete the picture.

Flashing lights distract. Additionally, shows carefully guard all photos and rights to what they do onstage. NY now has a law that says you can be fined 500 bucks if your cell goes off during a performance...is any call worth that?
posted by Postroad at 5:30 PM on January 20, 2009


Audio clip...someone taping (illegal) the song, show? I note no visual of the show itself and the sound on the clip is awful.
posted by Postroad at 5:33 PM on January 20, 2009


STOP STOP STOP "SINGING" RIGHT NOW
posted by DU at 5:35 PM on January 20, 2009


Patti Lupone gets felt up at an airport.
Patti Lupone sells stuff on eBay.
Patti Lupone freaks out.

Life goes on.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:40 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


You have to be some sort of idiot, anyway, to use a flash at a concert.

Concerts are usually quite well-lit, the flash annoys everyone and doesn't have the range to light the performers, and modern pocket cameras go to 400 ASA at the very least.

I've taken thousands of concert photographs - the only time I ever use a flash is when I've been asked to photograph by the band, and even that is mainly to reassure them that I'm really doing something.


I had a funny experience involving photography when I saw the Melted Men last year (excellent performance band, terrifying and brilliant, heartily recommended...)

There was a sign on the wall, "No Photography" and when some moron in front of me started to take photos by holding a camera in front of my face, one of the performers (hard to tell who's who as they always wear full masks and there are endless costume changes) started yelling at him, "No photos! I want you to see this with your own eyes!"

That didn't work so the performer charged off the stage and started hitting the photographer's hand with a drum stick.

I felt this was a little too far, but I was astonished at the reaction. I expected him to either flip out and get violent, or leave - to my astonishment, he kept taking photos!

I leaned over to his girlfriend and said, "I though the guy was pretty clear with the drumstick!"

The woman came over to me and started to explain some crap to me in endless detail BLAH! I just wanted to watch the show!

So I turned to her, gave her my biggest smile and said, "I'm terribly sorry, would you mind fucking off?" She said, "I beg your pardon?" I give her an even warmer smile and said, "I'm sorry, would you please fuck off?"

I've told people to fuck off before, but always when I was angry, and then I felt bad ten seconds later. This, on the other hand, was extremely rewarding. Just the expression on her face alone was completely memorable. And they soon left.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:43 PM on January 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


You do this to Bjork, she hands you your ass.

Generally, if you disagree with Björk on anything whatsoever, she will hit you with her handbag or any available prop - she did it at my friend's gallery, so smoothly that no one even commented on it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:45 PM on January 20, 2009


shows carefully guard all photos and rights to what they do onstage

The era of virtual property is coming to a close. I find it amusing that people think that, in an age of ubiquitous cameras, perfect digital copies, and a thriving Internet, it can be stopped.
posted by wastelands at 5:52 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would enjoy getting hit by Bjork. Even if she were in full freak out mode.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:55 PM on January 20, 2009


Astro Zombie: "I would enjoy getting hit by Bjork."

I'd Get Hit By It-filter?
posted by Joe Beese at 6:21 PM on January 20, 2009


she forgot he was allowed to be there, and the rest is history.

It's a great rumor, but the report doesn't claim she knew the photographer had gotten permission to take flash pictures during the show (if he had). I'm sure the guy will be selling his story shortly, so we'll see...
posted by mediareport at 6:22 PM on January 20, 2009


Don't flash at me, paparazzi
The truth is, I'm wildly pissed off.
They said no pictures!
In the announcement!
I'll send a bouncer
To cut your nuts off.
posted by terranova at 8:00 PM on January 20, 2009



Generally, if you disagree with Björk on anything whatsoever, she will hit you with her handbag or any available prop - she did it at my friend's gallery, so smoothly that no one even commented on it.

What set her off?
posted by Windigo at 8:18 PM on January 20, 2009


How do we know they were flash photos?
posted by delmoi at 8:23 PM on January 20, 2009


lupus_yonderboy writes "Generally, if you disagree with Björk on anything whatsoever, she will hit you with her handbag or any available prop - she did it at my friend's gallery, so smoothly that no one even commented on it."

That's excellent. Makes me like her even more.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:20 PM on January 20, 2009


wastelands writes "The era of virtual property is coming to a close. I find it amusing that people think that, in an age of ubiquitous cameras, perfect digital copies, and a thriving Internet, it can be stopped."

Yeah, but there's etiquette, and if you fuck with everyone's good time, it's certainly to be expected that someone will deal with you.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:22 PM on January 20, 2009


Generally, if you disagree with Björk on anything whatsoever, she will hit you with her handbag or any available prop - she did it at my friend's gallery, so smoothly that no one even commented on it.

And yet, she can't take a punch herself.
posted by boo_radley at 9:32 PM on January 20, 2009


I would enjoy getting hit by Bjork. Even if she were in full freak out mode.

I don't know, man. She's like some kind of crazy-ass Viking pixie ninja. I mean, it would be a cool story, but I bet it would really hurt.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:09 PM on January 20, 2009


Why do they keep calling it a meltdown? That was a flareup, and perfectly justified.
posted by RussHy at 4:47 AM on January 21, 2009


Patti Lupone and Bjork in an all-new all-singing-all-punching review "It Packs A Punch!"
posted by The Whelk at 5:37 AM on January 21, 2009


Gimme a frackin' break. Safety? WTF are you people smoking in here? The no photography rule is about safety and I'm the next Obama.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:57 AM on January 21, 2009


What you say: insightful, meaningful comment regarding the respectful use of photography during performance

What fans and Patti hear: blah blah blah
posted by Khazk at 7:13 AM on January 21, 2009


What a baby. I'm going to have to disagree with nearly everyone here. Lupone acted like an ass.

What the audience saw: possibly a couple of flickers of light. It's unlikely that any of them were wrenched out of the show by that. They had paid their money and were enjoying the performance. But Lupone decided to take it upon herself to ruin the show for everyone because she was annoyed. After that hissy-fit, how easy do you think it was for the audience to re-suspend their disbelief and see her as the character again? I'm guessing not very easy at all. She might as well have just said "We're all done here for tonight."

Thoroughly unprofessional. She should be embarrassed. And I'd have gotten my money back, notwithstanding the inherent entertainment value of someone having a self-important freakout in front of a large audience.
posted by rusty at 8:34 AM on January 21, 2009


Damn! I can't access the youtube clips. I would have loved to see this. Good for her!

I can't see anything in theaters without a problem anymore.

I hear you, man! It used to be, "incidents" in the theater (loud talkers, cell phone users, etc.) were the exception. Now, I can't remember the last movie I went to that didn't have at least one ass. It seems "common courtesy" is not so common any more. And good manners left town years ago. Am I too old?
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:00 AM on January 21, 2009


Gimme a frackin' break. Safety?

Well, in New York City it may be different, but out here in Bumfuck City, where the photo you take of the local high school production won't make you an ounce of cash, safety is the major concern.

I could give two shits if you left the show with a photo of one of our tenth graders singing "Oklahoma." Use a flash and that kid is more likely to take a nose dive into the orchestra pit. That is something that I do give two shits about. Perhaps even three.

Hey, I'm out in the boonies, but the actors I know all LOVE having their photos taken, posted across the web, mailed to relatives, etc. etc. I love to see photos of myself from shows no matter who took them.

Blind me when I'm performing, though, and while I won't go LuPone on you, but I will contact the House Manager once I'm offstage and ask them to at least have a word with you about it.

What the audience saw: possibly a couple of flickers of light.

And now from the audience perspective. You and I seem to have different tolerances for this, because flickers of light while I'm trying to watch a show (especially a show that I've spent some pretty hefty cash on) make me berserk. Indeed, I'm much more tolerant of audience asshattery when I'm on stage than when I'm watching a show.

If I'm on stage and you want to have a conversation on the phone, you're a dick, but I'm not going to spend a lot of brainpower on you (unless, as I mentioned before, you blind me). When I'm in the audience and you're sitting in front of me holding your cellphone in front of my face to take a non-flash picture, I want to go all John Wilkes Booth on the back of your head for distracting me.

Anyhow, its clear that those of us what like to watch a movie or play without distraction are a shrinking (if still currently dominant) demographic and I suppose I'm going to have to learn to focus past mallrats having endless "what do you want to do? I don't know, what do you want to do?" style conversations loud enough to be heard over the explosions while I'm trying to watch Iron Man 2.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:55 AM on January 21, 2009


Gimme a frackin' break. Safety? WTF are you people smoking in here? The no photography rule is about safety and I'm the next Obama.

I have a true story for you.

The setting: a production of the show Stomp, the live-action percussion/dance show in which performers use quarterstaffs, plastic bags, sinks, trash cans, clapping hands, and other assorted bits and pieces of stuff to make music.

The time: A number using quarterstaffs, midway through act one. Said act involves not just beating sticks on the floor, but against each other, and also involves some highly and precisely-choreographed throwing of sticks from one person to another here and there.

The finale: six people flinging quarterstaffs across the stage at each other in unison and in sync.

The audience: suddenly someone takes a flash photo in the middle of this exercise.

The stage: this flash photo flashes right into the eyes of one of the performers on stage precisely as she is about to make her throw, and her being temporarily blinded by the flash and her being startled causes her to involuntarily misjudge and mis-aim her throw.

The result: the quarterstaff -- a ten-foot-long hardwood pole weighing a good couple pounds -- sails off the stage into the audience, and hits another audience member in the stomach.




...The verdict: the no-photos rule may not be ONLY about safety, but you bet your sweet ass safety is one of several reasons why there is a no-photos policy.

We'll expect your announcement for candidacy in eight years, IvoShandor.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:10 AM on January 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Lupone decided to take it upon herself to ruin the show for everyone because she was annoyed.

Yeah, I'm gonna have to disagree with you here. Take the following:

I saw Nellie McKay perform once at a pretty intimate venue, and after several flash photographs during her set, she finally stopped and very politely said she'd be sure to linger after the show and pose for photos, but to PLEASE stop snapping her while she sang. Less than ten minutes later, someone up front took another photo. People are so terribly, terribly impulsive, selfish and inconsiderate.

See, that person arguably doesn't respect this artist, along with his or her fellow audience members. I would be perfectly happy to have the show pause while bouncers toss this ass out on the street. You mistakenly assume that I cannot enjoy the show and enjoy a little justice in the same evening.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:59 AM on January 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just returned from an errand and was going to post about the "safety?" comment, but I see other responsible theater folks have already got to it.

Not going to scroll back up, but: whoever questioned the safety rationale, I hope you now know better. It might look like fun and games to you folks sitting comfortably in the audience, but there is often split-second timing combined with potentially dangerous physical behaviour going on stage-side, and if you and your flash photography cause any trouble, you can bet the next drumstick is coming right the hell towards you and your expensive zoom lens, fast.
posted by Aquaman at 1:45 PM on January 21, 2009


I was in a production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest a few years ago. The director gave those of us playing mental patients permission to grab any cell phones that rang during the play, as long as we did it in character.
posted by EarBucket at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2009


I realize this train has probably sailed, but to clarify: I don't think it's ok to take pictures (or have phones or any of that). It drives me up the wall as well. I was just saying that the actress was not, I feel, entirely justified in stopping the whole show and having her little fit. Surely it was the ushers duty to deal with the problem? And if they failed, look, the show must go on.
posted by rusty at 1:34 PM on January 22, 2009


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