McDonald tweeted on Sunday night: “To whoever it was in the audience that took a flash photo during our nude scene today: Not cool. Not cool at all.”
The photographer was not caught in the act, nor has he or she been identified. Taking photographs during Broadway shows is prohibited.
The revival of the Terrence McNally play opens with a graphic sex scene featuring the title characters, played by McDonald and co-star Michael Shannon. In what was described by the production as a first for Broadway, producers hired what they termed an intimacy director – Claire Warden – to work with the actors. (The play, directed by Arin Arbus, runs through Sunday, July 28 at the Broadhurst Theatre.)
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In an interview with The New York Times upon the play’s opening in June, McDonald had shared her trepidation over performing the nude scene. “Maybe strippers get real used to it, but for me, there’s nothing normal about that,” she said. “So there’s nowhere in my mind that I can drift off and let this just kind of happen because everything about it is demanding that you be present.”
While most Broadway theaters use recorded “turn cellphones off” announcements or have ushers barking instructions before curtain, the sound of phones going off during performances remains an annoying, sometimes infuriating occurrence.
While pre-curtain souvenir photo-taking is fairly common – and generally tolerated by theaters – prior to the lights dimming, blatant snapshots and video recording is more exception than rule, as opposed to the more or less standard recording habits of audiences at pop concerts. By general policy, photo- or video-takers in Broadway theaters will be asked by ushers or house management to erase or delete; if they refuse, they’re asked to leave.
But practices can blur along with genre lines. The recent Morrissey residency at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre fell decidedly on the concert end of the fan recording spectrum, with scores of audience members choosing to watch at least portions of the show through their phones.
Comedian Dave Chappelle, who staged a recent two-week residency at the same theater, insisted that audience members place their phones in Yondr pouches, an increasingly common practice at comedy clubs to prevent recording. Audience members place their phones in the locked pouches, maintaining possession of the phones but unable to use them until the pouches are unlocked at bases in the lobby.
The Frankie and Johnny incident earned more than a little sympathy and even shock from McDonald’s Twitter following, including other performers or people in the arts. A sampling:
Comedian and actor David Alan Grier, who co-starred with McDonald in 2012’s Porgy and Bess on Broadway, went for humor in response to his friend’s tweet, posting “Sorry!” and “Couldn’t help myself” along with a gif of an old-fashioned flash camera. The joke, however, didn’t go over particularly well with at least a few other tweeters.
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