In November 1994—during previews of the original Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard at the Minskoff Theatre—Glenn Close descended Norma Desmond's elaborate staircase and was greeted by a sea of flashbulbs.
The actor, who went on to win her third Tony Award for her performance as the deluded silent-film star, stopped the show and told the audience, “We can either have a press conference or continue with the show.” Following a lengthy ovation, Close resumed her performance without any additional disturbances.
Flash forward to May 24, 2017—a Wednesday matinee of the critically acclaimed revival of Sunset Boulevard at the Palace Theatre—when Close stopped performing her first major song, “With One Look,” after an audience member had begun taking photos.
A spokesperson for the production told Playbill that the three-time Tony winner “politely asked [the audience member] to stop, saying it was distracting and disrespectful, adding, ‘Now we can have a show or we can have a photo shoot.’” Close then began singing the Lloyd Webber ballad from the beginning.
Patti LuPone, who earned an Olivier nomination for creating the role of Norma in the original London production, is also back on Broadway this season in the new musical War Paint, and has her own history with cell phone-using audience members. The two-time Tony winner famously stopped mid-song during the 2008 revival of Gypsy to scold an audience member for taking photos. More recently, she literally snatched a phone from a theatregoer during the 2015 Off-Broadway run of Shows for Days.
Check out footage from the Broadway revival of Sunset Boulevard below: