Contrary to a report that appears in today's edition of the New York Post, star Patti LuPone is most certainly not quitting the Broadway revival of Michael Frayn's Noises Off over a disagreement involving the manner in which contributions to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS are solicited following performances of the show.
According to the Post article, which appears on page five of today's edition of the paper and was written by Michael Riedel, "Tony Award-winner Patti LuPone quit the hit Broadway comedy Noises Off over the weekend after clashing with cast members and management about asking audiences to contribute to a theater AIDS charity. The Broadway diva threw what sources describe as a 'harrowing' hissy-fit immediately after the Saturday matinee because several members of the cast remained on stage after the curtain call to solicit money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The audience could hear a furious LuPone cursing her stage manager. She also, according to sources, picked up props and threw them at him." The article goes on to say that LuPone skipped the Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performances of the show.
In a phone conversation early this afternoon, LuPone's personal publicist, Philip Rinaldi, told TheaterMania that Riedel's story "has a lot of misinformation." According to Rinaldi, "Patti has not quit the show. She'll return for tonight's performance. To clarify the situation, it was a number of actors in the show--not just Patti--who did not feel comfortable with doing a fundraising speech during the curtain call. They had a cast meeting and decided that those who did not want to participate would leave the stage. When the time came for this to happen, one of the actors who had agreed to leave the stage did not. That threw Patti, and she expressed displeasure to the stage manager about how the situation was handled. This led to a fight between Patti and the stage manager--that part is true. He said some not nice things to her that upset her. But they have since talked, he has apologized, and everything between them is fine now. She never threw any props."
Although it has been an annual, spring tradition over the past several years for cast members of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway shows to solicit donations to BC/EFA in curtain speeches, there is also something of a history of actors and other theater professionals objecting to the practice on the grounds that it's inappropriate to hit up audience members for money immediately following the performance of a show, no matter how worthy the cause.
In a statement issued late this afternoon, Tom Viola, executive director of BC/EFA, said: "I'm sorry that Patti LuPone was so upset by the efforts of Noises Off to raise funds for Broadway Cares that she missed performances over the weekend. BC/EFA has never strong-armed or insisted that anyone participate in our fundraising efforts on stage or in the audience. Patti has very generously supported Broadway Cares in the past. It is now my understanding that this issue has been resolved and that the appeals for Broadway Cares will continue with the Wednesday performances. I am sincerely grateful to the thousands of actors across Broadway whose efforts allow Broadway Cares to provide millions of dollars each year to AIDS, women's health, and family service programs."
Rinaldi, too, stressed that LuPone "has done a lot for Broadway Cares and for GMHC [the Gay's Men's Health Crisis, another AIDS services organization]. She has nothing against these institutions. It's all about the uncomfortableness of asking the audience for donations at the end of the show."