6 Horrifying Theatergoers as Described by Rumer Willis and More Broadway Stars

by Stacy Lambe 10:55 AM PDT, October 22, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Broadway once was a refined experience, with theatergoers dressing up to see stars take the stage for show-stopping performances. Lately, it seems that anything goes -- though, we’re fully OK with the casual nature of clothing -- as audience members are willing to eat, text, and even offer marriage proposals during performances.

Everyone from Rumer Willis to Jonathan Groff has recounted horrible examples of theatergoers behaving badly that are becoming all too common: 

1. Diners

While snacks are available at a number of theaters, dinners are not. But that hasn’t stopped people from chowing down -- even on McDonald’s. “I saw somebody eating a full meal in the front row the other day,” Willis, who is playing Roxie Hart in Chicago, revealed to New York Magazine in a joint interview with her father, Bruce.

During a December performance of Cinderella, which ran from 2013 to 2014, Joe Carroll (Prince Topher) noticed that people had picked up McDonald’s during intermission. “To the people eating MCDONALDS FRIES/ NUGGETS IN THE FRONT ROW RIGHT NOW… Enjoy act 2!! Or just LEAVE. I CANT MAKE THIS UP,” he tweeted

2. Texters

Phones have long been a problem at every show, with a cell undoubtedly ringing at least once a performance. However, things have gotten worse as some audience members have been caught texting. Most notably, Patti LuPone let one woman have it when the 66-year-old Broadway legend spied her typing away during a performance of Shows for Days.

"We could see her text. She was so uninterested. She showed her husband what she was texting," LuPone explained to The New York Times after it was reported that she swiped the unsuspecting audience member’s phone. "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."

NEWS: Patti LuPone Grabs Texting Audience Member's Phone From Hands During Play

4. Phone Chargers

In a bizarre, phone-related incident that seems to top all phone incidents, one person climbed onto the stage of Hand of God before the show started to charge his phone. Believing that the outlet onset was real, he attempted to add juice to his iPhone battery. “It’s not the easiest thing to go climb on stage. It takes a concerted effort—and I do it all the time,” Beowulf Boritt, the show’s Tony-winning set designer, told Vanity Fair. “It’s certainly the first time anyone has gone onto one of my sets and tried to use it as a real space.”

The college student responsible for the incident later apologized during a press conference outside Boothe Theatre, where the show is playing. “I don’t go to plays very much, and I didn’t realize that the stage is considered off limits,” he said

4. Celebrities

Also allegedly guilty of using her phone during a show is Madonna, who was recently called out by Hamilton star Groff. “That b***h was on her phone,” Groff told dot429. “You couldn't miss it from the stage. It was a black void of the audience in front of us and her face there perfectly lit by the light of her iPhone through three-quarters of the show.”

A year prior, Shia LaBeouf was escorted out of a June performance of Cabaret starring Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming. “I think he was really messed up, obviously … he was just wasted, and he was wasted from the second he walked into the thing,” The Good Wife actor told Conan O’Brien following the incident, which also included LaBeouf slapping Cumming’s butt.

The actor was charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. 

5. Proposers

Keira Knightley’s Broadway debut was interrupted when a man started shouting as soon as the actress took the stage at Studio 54 during the opening preview performance of Therese Raquin. “I love you” was one of the things he reportedly screamed out, even asking Knightley to marry him. He was eventually escorted out and placed under evaluation.

While Knightley has yet to comment on the incident, Roundabout Theatre told ET that it has beefed up security. "Roundabout takes the safety of their actors and audiences very seriously and extra security will be added,” the theater said.

NEWS: Keira Knightley's Broadway Debut Disrupted by Screaming Fan

6. Hurlers

Going back a few years, when Paul Rudd was in Grace with Ed Asner and Michael Shannon, an elderly man became sick during an evening performance and hurled over the balcony. The falling vomit understandably disrupted the show as the audience below tried to clean themselves up.

Rudd kept his sense of humor, telling the audience at the end that “as an actor, being able to move people to tears or to laughter is amazing -- but moving them to puking is a whole different league.” The actor later joked with Matt Lauer on Today that he’s typically “loaded” onstage. 

Watch as Willis describes how she found her confidence after being cyberbullied while sitting down with ET.