Don’t mess with Patti LuPone.
The Broadway diva, who is currently starring in a revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company,” dropped an F-bomb while chastising two theatergoers who wouldn’t wear their masks properly. The incident happened during a post-show onstage interview hosted by the American Theatre Wing organization on Tuesday that was open to the audience.
Broadway shows still require masking — at least through May 31.
“Put your mask over your nose … If you don’t want to follow the rule, get the f— out,” said LuPone, 73, which was captured in a video from the event shared on Twitter. “Who do you think you are, that you do not respect the people that are sitting around you?”
The exchange got even testier when one of the offending patrons replied by saying that she paid LuPone’s salary with her ticket purchase.
“Bulls—t,” replied LuPone.
Here’s a clip of the exchange. Be warned that it contains profanity.
The pair was asked to leave the theater by the ushers and did so, according to a production spokesperson.
“Company” has been one of the biggest critical successes this Broadway season. The show recently earned nine Tony Award nominations, including one for LuPone.
While Broadway has continued to require masking, that’s not true everywhere. In recent months, mask mandates have ended in many settings throughout the country, including New York City public schools, even as COVID-19 cases increase in some locales. Plus, airlines are no longer requiring masks.
The issue remains a touchy one, of course. And it may have struck a particular nerve with LuPone, who is one of several high-profile Broadway artists who contracted COVID-19 and had to miss performances as a result.
A “Company” spokesperson said that LuPone declined to comment about Tuesday’s incident. But Chris Harper, one of the show’s main producers, said in a statement: “We stand with Patti and support her efforts to keep our entire community — from patrons to ushers, cast to stage crew — safe and healthy so we can keep Broadway open.”
That view was seconded by Jamie Forshaw, whose company, Madison Wells Live, is an investor in the “Company” production.
Theatergoers “should respect the rules,” Forshaw told MarketWatch. “The actors are up there doing a job and they want to continue doing the job and not be afraid of catching something.”
Forshaw added that he hasn’t seen similar mask conflicts emerge during this Broadway season, noting that “ushers have done a fantastic job” of monitoring the situation. But he said there could be challenges ahead given how the mandates are ending in many places.
“The issue now is the world is opening up,” Forshaw said.
Meanwhile, Broadway stars and fans alike voiced their support for LuPone on social media, or shared their own takes on the situation. This led “Patti Lupone” to trend on Twitter Tuesday night and throughout the day on Wednesday.
This wasn’t the only situation involving bad patron behavior of late at a Broadway show. A video of actor Jesse Williams in the nude, taken during a performance of the current Broadway revival of the play “Take Me Out,” was recently leaked. (The show features extensive nudity.) That’s in spite of the fact that patrons are required to check their cellphones before entering the theater.
In a statement, Second Stage Theater, the producer of “Take Me Out,” said, “We are appalled that this policy has been violated and unauthorized footage of our acting company has been posted. It is deeply unfortunate that one audience member chose to disrespect the production, their fellow audience members, and, most importantly, the cast in this manner.”
One amused reader on Twitter noted that, “between the Jessie Williams thing and the Patti LuPone thing, Broadway audiences are off the f—ing rails this week.”