Patti LuPone Curses at Broadway Theatergoers for Not Wearing Masks Properly: 'Get Out!'

"Put your mask over your nose, that's why you're in the theater," Patti LuPone told a pair of patrons during a Company post-show talkback on Tuesday

Patti Lupone attends the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City.
Patti LuPone. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Patti LuPone tore into a pair of theatergoers on Tuesday after the duo refused to wear their masks properly during a post-show talkback.

The Broadway legend — who is currently starring in the Tony-nominated revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company — was appearing alongside her costars in a filmed Q&A hosted by the American Theatre Wing when she snapped at the patrons, telling them to pull their masks up over their noses.

"That is the rule," she can be heard telling them, in footage of the back and forth captured by multiple audience members and shared to Twitter. "If you don't want to follow the rules, get the f--- out!"

"Who do you think you are, that you do not respect the people that are sitting around you?" she continues. "Put your mask over your nose, that's why you're in the theater."

Although New York City lifted its mask and vaccine mandates back in March, the Broadway League — the national trade association for the theatre industry — has its own COVID-19 safety protocols. Audience members are currently required to wear their masks inside theaters through May 31 in an effort to protect actors, musicians, crew members and staffers from the deadly virus.

Broadway was shut down for 18 months during the pandemic, delaying Company's opening (it was in the midst of previews when the industry stopped performances in March 2019). LuPone herself contracted COVID in February and March of this year, missing 10 performances.

Despite LuPone's pleas, the audience members still refused. "I pay your salary," one woman told LuPone, who responded, "You pay my salary? Bullshit. [Producer] Chris Harper pays my salary."

"Who do you think you are?" LuPone repeated. "Just put your mask over your nose."

Patti LuPone
Bruce Glikas/WireImage

A source on the scene tells PEOPLE that the patrons were then removed from the theater.

"What you don't see in the clip is she had them kicked out and then said, 'This is bulls---. F--- this, I'm done' and stormed off the stage," the insider said. "Talk backs are all free, so it's not like we were cheated out of anything we paid for; we had already seen Patti's incredible performance. It was just disappointing because two people ruined it all for the rest of us."

"Before it even got to the point in the video, Patti had politely asked them to lift their masks several times," the source added. "They just kept shaking their heads at her. That's when she hit a breaking point, taking the mic, stopping the panel, and demanding they follow the rules. These people were so rude."

A representative for LuPone did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, but Harper provided a statement to PEOPLE through a Company spokesperson.

"Over the course of her storied career, Patti has always had an unshakable bond with the audience, and she takes their role as seriously as her own. She is also a fierce advocate for the entire theatrical workforce," the statement read. "We stand with Patti and support her efforts to keep our entire community — from patrons to ushers, cast to stage crew — safe and healthy so we can keep Broadway open."

It was notably signed, "Chris Harper (the man who pays Patti LuPone's salary)."

This isn't the first time LuPone has clapped back at an audience member.

Back in 2009, she famously yelled at someone taking pictures of her during a performance of Gypsy, stopping the show's penultimate number "Rose's Turn" and insisting the offender be thrown out of the theater.

"Stop taking pictures right now! You heard the announcement. Who do you think you are?" LuPone said, in audio of the moment that was later shared on social media. "I won't continue if they're taking pictures. Get them out!"

"We have forgotten our public manners," she told the audience, according to the clip. "We have forgotten that we are a community and this is the theater. All of you, every single one of you except for that person, has respect. And I, and the rest of this company, appreciate it. Thank you."

Years later, in 2015, LuPone did it again — this time snatching a phone from an audience member who was texting during her performance of Show Days at Lincoln Center.

"There was a woman texting throughout the entire show," LuPone's costar Michael Urie explained on New York Live. "She was in the second row, and she happened to be in a spot where Patti could get it [so] on her way out [of a scene], she just took it."

"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 to Playbill 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."

(L-R) Etai Benson, Patti LuPone, Katrina Lenk, Matt Doyle, Christopher Sieber and Terence Archie during the first preview re-opening performance of "Company" on Broadway at The Bernard Jacobs Theater on November 15, 2021 in New York City.
From L to R: Etai Benson, Patti LuPone, Katrina Lenk, Matt Doyle, Christopher Sieber and Terence Archie in Company. Bruce Glikas/Getty

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LuPone received a Tony nomination for her role as Joanne in Company. It's her eighth career nomination for theater's biggest honor, among two wins.

Company is also up for nine Tonys, including one for best musical revival. Directed by Marianne Elliott, the production has earned acclaim for its gender-twisting take on George Furth's tale, casting a woman (Tony winner Katrina Lenk) in the lead role of Bobbie for the first time.

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