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Broadway Shockers 2015: Patti LuPone, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Hand to God "Phone" It In

Seriously, turn off your phones when you go to see a play.

As 2015 comes to an end, TheaterMania looks back on some of the most surprising stories of the year.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Patti LuPone, and Nick Silvestri all had problems with cell phones at the theater this year.
(© Johan Persson/Joan Marcus/Seth Walters)

In July of this year, cell phones tried to take over the theater-sphere. And it got ugly.

Here's a recap:

First, some rando from Long Island decided that the perfect place to charge his mobile device was on stage at Hand to God. He saw an outlet in Beowulf Borritt's set and tried to take advantage of it. Naturally, because it was a set piece, it was fake.

Just days later, iconic Broadway queen Patti LuPone became a one-person vigilante when she snatched a phone from the hands of a Shows for Days patron after she spotted her texting during the show (it's a small house, the Mitzi E. Newhouse). The audience member apparently didn't notice, but everyone else did and showered LuPone with applause.

A media frenzy ensued. LuPone explained her "sleight of hand" and righteous rage to several outlets, including TheaterMania in an extended interview. "I didn't grab it. I palmed it. I came offstage and went, 'I got the phone!' Even I was surprised." It was the cap to a "day from hell," which featured four cell phones ringing during the matinee.

Patti LuPone and Michael Urie had to deal with the ringing of cell phones and visible texters during their run in Lincoln Center Theater's Shows for Days.
(© Joan Marcus)

Meanwhile, the Hand to God bro, no doubt with the urging of genius Broadway press firm O&M Co., hosted a press conference where he explained his actions. Nick Silvestri, a 19-year-old college lacrosse player, had too much to drink and was apparently fielding too many phone calls from eligible bachelorettes. Over the course of five minutes, he delightfully dug himself even deeper.

Hilarious, right? Absolutely. Troubling? Definitely.

But who brought it all down to earth? The embodiment of class itself, Benedict Cumberbatch. He didn't do anything outlandish to get people to stop taping his performance as Hamlet in London. He just asked them to. And hopefully they listened.

And hopefully everyone will make a New Year's Resolution to turn off their phones when they're going to see live theater.

Hand to God puppet star Tyrone (center) did not like it when someone tried to charge their phone on his set.
(© Joan Marcus)