California | Theatre

Actor Fired For Ejecting Homophobic Heckler During 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' Performance

John Lacy as Big Daddy

Repertory East Playhouse in Santa Clara, CA was in the midst of their production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when one attendee began heckling the cast with homophobic slurs, evidently utterly ignorant of the fact that the main character Brick's latent homosexuality and relationship with his football buddy Skipper is one of the major driving plot elements. Actor John Lacy, who was playing the role of Big Daddy, couldn't take the heckler's slurs and got off the stage and physically removed him from the theater. He was immediately fired from the show.

Co-worker Anton Troy resigned in solidarity, saying on his Facebook account:

I will not support homophobia or an establishment that doesn't support its talent. Hate in any form is not something I choose to subscribe to. John is a seasoned professional and an honorable man. It should never escalate to a point where the talent has to handle an unruly drunk in the audience themselves regardless of the outcome. Producers dropped the ball, the fish stinks from the head on down.

Cast members Missy Kaye and Emily Low had a decidedly different opinion. Said Kaye,

By you jumping off the stage and putting your hands on this guy put the whole theatre in jeopardy, cast and audience, and to me that is unforgivable. What if this guy had a weapon? Did that cross your mind?

And Low, who didn't think Lacy should have been fired and soundly condemned the bigoted patron, said,

Sometimes you're gonna have those people in the crowd who don't understand that his is a high piece of art, or people who come into the show and don't even realize that it's a story about a person who's struggling with being gay. I disagreed with things being dealt with violently, that's all that it is.

One has to wonder what the fallout and opinions would have been had the patron been hurling racial slurs or anti-Semitic epithets. 

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Comments

  1. Screaming homophobic slurs is an act of violence but I guess they were okay with that.

    Posted by: Derrick | Jun 3, 2014 9:02:34 PM


  2. Good for him... and the actress who worried if the bad guy had a gun... just put a sign up in the lobby to check all guns with the coat check!

    Posted by: jerry pritikin the Bleacher Preacher | Jun 3, 2014 9:05:07 PM


  3. The producers and the theatre personnel really dropped-the-ball on this one. None of the actors should have HAD TO handle this. unruly patrons should be taken card of by theater staff without the actors having to be come involved. I completely support the actor who was fired.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Jun 3, 2014 9:06:58 PM


  4. Not that this matters tremendously, but this playhouse is located in Santa Clarita, CA not Santa Clara. One is a rather conservative suburb of LA and the other a rather liberal one of SJ. And they're 300 miles apart...

    Posted by: Publius | Jun 3, 2014 9:08:53 PM


  5. Missy Kaye, you're a stupid cǔǹt. Are we all supposed to just sit back and let people disrupt shows and hijack events because we're afraid that they might have a weapon and might use it irrationally?

    Posted by: screamingqueen | Jun 3, 2014 9:11:08 PM


  6. Missy Kaye, you're a stupid c ǔ ǹ t. Are we all supposed to just sit back and let people disrupt shows and hijack events because we're afraid that they might have a weapon and might use it irrationally?

    Posted by: screamingqueen | Jun 3, 2014 9:11:45 PM


  7. Women seem to think that anti-homosexual male slurs are funny and harmless. In any case, the disruptive audience member should have been removed by security, not the actor.

    Posted by: petey | Jun 3, 2014 9:22:45 PM


  8. Honestly, I applaud the actor who stood up and DID SOMETHING. Sad to hear that he got canned. And, after having witnessed that in person, I would not attend that theater again. Too bad security didn't do something, as they certainly had the opportunity. If the foulmouthed audience member didn't do his homework, and found out ahead of time what the plot line was about, why should I (or anyone else -for that matter - on-stage or audience) subject myself to that kind of abuse? No, I think not, and as they (security) did not act, the theater - NOT the company needs to know EVERYONE'S discomfort level, AND abject fear, in the moment, or no longer be supported by the community.

    No excuse, theater owners/operators. If you cannot - or is that WILL NOT (?)- protect the theatre -going public, at the VERY MINIMUM, you don't deserve to have the business. NO ONE deserves to be put in that kind of danger by a raving lunatic. Hopefully, whatever patrons you had or still remain COME TO THEIR SENSES and not attend any more productions at that venue.

    Again, honestly, there is NO LOGICAL REASON for what happened after the audience member went beserk. Hopefully, the actor gets a great role elsewhere, and the venue owners will have to EAT CROW, as they richly deserve it!!!

    Posted by: Rod Roddy lookalike | Jun 3, 2014 9:37:10 PM


  9. This summary does a REALLY selective job of editing the quotes to let Low off the hook. Curiously so, since a huge part of the story is her at first answering the heckler with a DEFENSE that since Brick was gay, the reaction might be artistic and appropriate for them. Only AFTER the reaction to Low's casual dismissal of the heckler's use of slurs blew up--AND the heckler and his party said they were there because they'd been invited by Low--did she then release the statement Christian used above as a way of doing damage control. This story here, with its selective use of the quotes, really lets Low off the hook.

    Posted by: LukeyLuke | Jun 3, 2014 10:15:20 PM


  10. John Lacy deserves a medal and commendation for removing an unruly and disruptive homophobe. Instead he gets fired by the theater management. One can only to assume that this theater wants to protect its homophobic hecklers.

    Posted by: Ben | Jun 3, 2014 10:23:08 PM


  11. They fired Big Daddy for standing up to a loud-mouthed homophobe? Tennessee must be rolling over in his grave!

    Posted by: Jim | Jun 3, 2014 10:26:26 PM


  12. you never break character - NEVER.

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Jun 3, 2014 10:36:58 PM


  13. My first thought was that the loud mouth was ruining the play for everyone in the audience. The theater management had a responsibility to correct what was happening.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jun 3, 2014 10:39:11 PM


  14. As Publius noted, this happened in Santa Clarita, not Santa Clara. This (seemingly original) link has the correct name: http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Actor-Fired-After-Escorting-Homophobic-Heckler-from-CAT-ON-A-HOT-TIN-ROOF-Performance-20140602#

    I grew up in Santa Clarita, and I have to say, I'm not exactly surprised. It's always been conservative (Buck McKeon is our rep), but usually a bit more... subdued, so to speak. That being said, there were liberal people around, and the Repertory East theater was a bit of an oasis to some. Saw a good performance of Cabaret there years ago.

    Posted by: Bobsyouruncle | Jun 3, 2014 10:49:20 PM


  15. This is really a failure of the House Manager and staff. It really doesn't matter what the heckler said; someone should have had him removed.

    Elaine Stritch tells a story of Ethel Merman taking things into her own hands . . . and I'm sure they didn't fire Ethel.

    http://youtu.be/15a5jz6J0lM?t=32m16s

    Posted by: Alan | Jun 3, 2014 11:23:23 PM


  16. To the two actresses who came up with the lame argument that the guy could have had a gun or something: wouldn't you and the audience members still be in 'danger' if it was a theatre staffer who removed him instead like they should have?

    Posted by: BETTY | Jun 3, 2014 11:29:55 PM


  17. What cretin (hint: look-up the origin of "cretin" in the OED) doesn't know Cat is gay? And who goes to a play anymore and expects it to be specifically not gay. Perhaps management should post a sign on the door saying "WARNING: CULTURE INSIDE" for those likely to get the vapors.

    Posted by: Hansel Currywurst | Jun 4, 2014 12:06:51 AM


  18. One of the comments at The Wrap is from someone who is a friend of Lacy's and was actually in the audience that night, saying:

    "That patron deserved to be removed by producers long, long before John DID WHAT WAS RIGHT! There is no place in OUR world for the stupid behavior exhibited by the patron. I'll close with this, if that patron would have 'gone postal' - JOHN LACY would be THE GUY protecting the actresses (and actors). John, thanks for standing up for what is RIGHT in this world!"

    Posted by: Retro | Jun 4, 2014 1:17:55 AM


  19. John Lacy's behavior was absolutely unprofessional. I commend the theater for firing him.

    Posted by: AG | Jun 4, 2014 1:34:02 AM


  20. Anyone who thinks the audience's evening should have been allowed to be completely ruined by one idiotic drunk is also an idiot and also possibly drunk.

    Somebody had to stop him and it's a time-honored tradition for even some of the greatest actors to take action against a disruptive moron in the house.

    And the audience gave that performance a standing ovation, so they disagree with you, too -- and it's their opinion that matters because it was their money and their night out on the line.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Jun 4, 2014 1:50:10 AM


  21. Theatre is gross.

    Posted by: Kissyfur | Jun 4, 2014 2:18:37 AM


  22. AG: You're a moron.

    Posted by: David | Jun 4, 2014 2:57:03 AM


  23. KISSYFUR: You're a moron, too.

    Posted by: David | Jun 4, 2014 2:57:42 AM


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