The three-time Tony winner — who has returned to the role of the famous fictional fading silent movie star 23 years after first playing it on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s acclaimed musical Sunset Boulevard — stopped the matinee performance of the Broadway revival to scold an audience member who was taking a photo of her, multiple sources confirm to PEOPLE.
The interruption came nearly halfway through Act I, during Desmond’s ballad “With One Look” — a song in which the cast-aside actress sings about her desire to return to her glory days.
“I’m sorry. Stop the show. Someone there is taking photos,” Close told the photo-taker, Page Six reported. “You must know how distracting and disrespectful that is. Now, we can have a show or we can have a photo shoot.”
Soon after, Close, 70, restarted the number, Page Six reported — telling the conductor, “Let’s take it from the top of the song.”
The moment was the second time Close had stopped a performance of Sunset Boulevard in her time playing the role, Playbill reported. In November 1994 — during previews of the original Broadway production — Close told an entire audience of flashing cameras, “We can either have a press conference or continue with the show.”
The taking of photographs and use of recording devices in Broadway houses is forbidden by New York State law — as every show, including Sunset Boulevard, announces prior to the performance.
That hasn’t stopped audience members in the past — and Close is hardly the first star to stop the show to call someone’s bad behavior out.
Two-time Tony winner Patti LuPone — who coincidentally originated the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard in London’s Adelphi Theatre in July 1993 before being replaced by Close in the Broadway transfer — has done it numerous times.
Her most famous interruption was in 2009, when she dramatically stopped a Broadway performance of Gypsy for more than two minutes to berate a photographer in the audience, demanding the offender be removed from the premises and thanking the rest of the audience for abiding by the rules before transforming back into character of stage mother supreme, Mama Rose.
The moment was ironically captured by an audience member taking an audio recording of the show — and became a viral sensation on social media.
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In 2015, the 68-year-old took it to the next level during a performance of the play Shows for Days at New York City’s Lincoln Center — snatching a phone out of an audience member’s hand as she was texting during the show.
“We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones,” LuPone said in a statement at the time.
“They cannot put them down. When a phone goes off or when a LED screen can be seen in the dark it ruins the experience for everyone else – the majority of the audience at that performance and the actors on stage. I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore. Now I’m putting battle gear on over my costume to marshal the audience as well as perform.”