By Kendall McElroy
After a long and accoladed career as a Broadway star, actress Patti LuPone has publicly given up her Actor’s Equity card. LuPone is known, not only for her show stopping performances, but her attitude towards rude spectators and her inclination to stop performances to tell audience members off for flash photography and sneakily recording shows.
In light of a recent Broadway scandal involving another actress, a much needed discussion about actor professionalism and the accessibility of Broadway performances has been sparked amongst the theatre community. Lillias White, another well-known Broadway diva, is facing major backlash for her treatment of a partially deaf and blind spectator, Samantha Coleman.
After falsely identifying Coleman’s closed captioning device as a camera, White halted her performance in Hadestown and lashed out at Coleman, publicly humiliating her in the process. “The people who need to use these devices should feel comfortable and confident in seeing a Broadway show and not be met with shame and embarrassment and anxiety.” Coleman took to Instagram in a tearful video posted to her account.
In Coleman’s instagram video, instead of attacking White, she called out the theatre industry as a whole, pushing for better education for actors, so another incident like hers would never be repeated. In the midst of heated online discussions on whether or not actors should be allowed to police the use of electronics during live performances, White was faced with countless slandering remarks, attacking her age, race, and acting ability.
White then brought up LuPone and her infamous 2006 Broadway performance of Gypsy in which she snatched an audience member’s phone for texting during the performance. For this she was praised for defending the integrity of live performance. White mentioned the disparity between how both actresses were treated after each incident. However, no one expected LuPone’s following tweet:
“Quite a week on Broadway, seeing my name being bandied about. Gave up my Equity card; no longer part of that circus. Figure it out.”
While not an official retirement announcement, an Actor’s Equity card is similar to an actors union, and is required for all Broadway performances as well as most other professional theatres in the U.S. Furthermore, LuPone addressed Deadline representatives, saying “When the run of Company ended this past July, I knew I wouldn’t be on stage for a very long time, and at that point I made the decision to resign from Equity.”
Alternatively, many fans of LuPone are convinced the three-time Tony winner’s career in theatre is still unfinished, predicting a return in the near future. While LuPone’s representatives declined to comment further on the matter and LuPone had refused to make any public statements on her return, Broadway fans around the world watch with bated breath to see if one of theatre’s most infamous divas will return to the spotlight.