'Hand to God' Performance Interrupted as Theatergoer Tries to Charge Phone Onstage
"It's the dumbest thing I've ever seen or heard of," star Steven Boyer tells THR. "I really don't know why he was allowed to stay, I have no idea why. I don't know why that person wasn't just thrown out."
Not every outlet is for charging phones.
Friday's Broadway performance of Hand to God was interrupted when a theatergoer attempted to charge his cell phone via an onstage outlet.
Besides breaching theater etiquette just before the show began, it turns out the patron (named Nick Silvestri) jumped onto the Booth Theatre stage only to find a fake outlet, a prop of the dark comedy's classroom set.
"Our stage manager came over the PA system in the house and said, 'Please do not get on the stage. We do not come into your home and sit on your furniture, and it is of course, a non-working outlet. If you come on the stage again, the police will be called,' " Steven Boyer — who stars in the play as both the confused Christian teenager, Jason, and the foul-mouthed Satanic sock puppet named Tyrone who takes over his life — tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Another attendee, Chris York, wrote on Facebook that the bold patron was then heckled by the audience when a crew member returned his phone to him. Watch the video below:
Thankfully, the incident didn't throw off the subversive comedy. Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel and playwright Robert Askins both nabbed Tony nominations for their hilarious exploration of the psychology of grief, the repression of human nature and adolescent unease, as did possessed protagonist Boyer and castmates Sarah Stiles and Geneva Carr.
"I used to be a stand-up comic, so I went into the whole 'shut down the heckler' mode," Boyer says of the incident preceding the performance, which he begins by addressing the audience as Tyrone. "[The play] a parable about the invention of good versus bad in society, so I was able to, as the puppet, stare down this person, direct the bad things toward him and physically point at him in the audience. Things the characters wouldn't be able to do, but when it's a puppet doing a direct address, it's like a stand-up performance. And [Tyrone] is a bold narrator!"
"It's the dumbest thing I've ever seen or heard of," Boyer added. "I really don't know why he was allowed to stay. I have no idea why. I don't know why that person wasn't just thrown out.
"People should just know that we can see them," he continued. "The audience may be judging the actors onstage; we're judging the audience just as much. And when your face lights up with a blue light and you're texting, and you think you're not disturbing anyone, you're disturbing the people onstage."
Boyer's co-stars Stiles and Marc Kudisch took to Twitter after the memorable incident, sharing their shock and warnings for future show attendees.
Dear general audience, an electrical socket that's a part of the set of the play is NOT for you to charge your iPhone.....just an FYI.....— Marc Kudisch (@MarcKuds) July 4, 2015
A week later, Silvestri made a statement on the incident: "Before coming to see Hand to God I downed a few drinks and I think that clearly impaired my judgement," he explained. "I don’t go to plays very much, and I didn’t realize that the stage is considered off limits. ... I would like to sincerely apologize to the Broadway community, all the other people in the audience that night, and most importantly the cast and crew of Hand to God. I am on my college lacrosse team, and I know just how bad it feels when you are out there working your ass off, and it feels like the crowd isn’t on your side or isn’t paying attention. I feel terrible if any of the amazing actors in this show felt at all disrespected by my actions."
July 7, 11 a.m. Updated with Boyer's comments.
July 10, 1 p.m. Updated with Silvestri's statement.