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. 


  1. Alex Parrish says

    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.

  2. Publius says

    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…

  3. screamingqueen says

    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?

  4. screamingqueen says

    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?

  5. petey says

    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.

  6. Rod Roddy lookalike says

    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!!!

  7. LukeyLuke says

    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.

  8. Ben says

    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.

  9. Jim says

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

  10. Mike in the Tundra says

    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.

  11. Bobsyouruncle says

    As Publius noted, this happened in Santa Clarita, not Santa Clara. This (seemingly original) link has the correct name:

    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.

  12. Alan says

    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.

  13. BETTY says

    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?

  14. Hansel Currywurst says

    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.

  15. Retro says

    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!”

  16. AG says

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

  17. oncemorewithfeeling says

    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.

  18. Jerry says

    The idea of yelling out racial slurs at a Tennessee Williams play makes me giggle. Except for the all-black Debbie Allen production of Cat from six years ago (which was mostly so Phylicia Rashad and James Earl Jones could play the parents), I can’t think of any Tennessee Williams plays where there are more than two black people on stage at all, and never for any extended period of time.

  19. jeffg166 says

    Good for him except he and the theater company could now get sued by that nutter. Better to have stopped the play, called the cops to have the nutter removed.

  20. McCoysMarketNYC says

    “What cretin (hint: look-up the origin of “cretin” in the OED) doesn’t know Cat is gay?”

    Hansel Currywurst: BRICK is gay. The Cat is Maggie.

  21. Hansel Currywurst says

    @McCoysMarketNYC – I was using “Cat” as shorthand for the full name of the play. It’s a gay play.

  22. Markt says

    Just trolled all of Miss Low’s statements about the incident. She referred to the two hecklers as “acquaintances at best,” noting that she sent our hundreds of post cards advertising her performance. Seems she had their addresses in her book and invited them specifically. This is who she invites? It doesn’t say anything good about her. If she gets a film part are they gonna show up on the set and add their insights for a bit? They (they includes Low) just cost a lot of people a lot of money. If I was a producer I stay far away from her.

  23. Gigi says

    Many years ago I worked at a Jewish deli. I used to hear people talking about “faggots” and “queers” all the time. Sometimes they’d curl their lips when I approached the table.
    One wrote on the back of the bill, in lieu of a tip: “Great service. Too bad about the “gay” thing.” If I said anything I would have been fired. Imagine how excited I was the day two men said, “I guess you gotta be a Jew to able to afford to eat in this place…” The time had finally come. While ejecting them from the restaurant (“We don’t take kindly to bigots here. You’ll have to leave!”) I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of joy. These two haters got the brunt of all of my pent up anger and frustration at being silenced for so long. My boss freaked out when he heard me kick them out (he thought they’d called me a “fag” or something no doubt), but he was fine with it when I told him they were anti-Semites. “Good boy” he said. Good boy indeed!!

  24. Michael says

    Where was management? How did it escalate to that point? The theater group has bigger problems than an audience member that is ignorant of even the show he purchased a ticket to see. And the women who were afraid of guns? Well, they seem a bit shallow on the uptake of what is going on.

  25. Elsewhere1010 says

    When I hear the term “high art” used, as Ms. Low did, I break out into a strawberry rash as I’m allergic to pretentious actors.

    While personally I think a more effective response to heckling is to leave the stage — the entire cast, as a group, and not come back until the heckler has been removed — the time when strangers can yell homophobic slurs at large groups of people with impunity is pretty much over.

    The actors should be suing the theater company for permitting a hostile work environment.

  26. Dback says

    Hope John Lacy gets a big, juicy part in something soon–maybe not just a play, maybe a TV show or movie with a nice paycheck. Such integrity and courage is commendable, and should not be punished.

  27. says

    the theatre should be ashamed for not removing the heckler IMMEDIATELY. As in, get down into the aisle, and get him out NOW.

    KUDOS to the other actor who quit in solidarity.

    In many times, in many theatres, many an actor has done what this man did – and i applaud him for it. It’s terribly easy for non-actors who don’t know what it’s like to perform on stage to say “oh, that’s unprofessional!” Not really, sugar. What was “unprofessional” was the inaction of the Front of House staff and theatre employees – not the actor.

  28. Bear says

    I like how some people want to condemn the female actresses for having their opinion on how this bad scene went down. Really?
    They had nothing to do with why this escalated into a physical confrontation.
    I am sure these ladies as well as all the actors put in a months of hard work into this play and now its ruined.
    Should the drunk been removed from the audience? Yes.
    Should an actor break the 4th wall? NEVER.
    Oh a “screaming queen” your a real punk for calling Mrs. Kaye a C&%t. Now a days I think a gun toting drunk is a very real possibility.

  29. Mikey says

    The female actors are bigots and aligned with the homophobes. I doubt either will ever get a substantial part in Hollywood after this incident!

  30. Johnny says

    SHAME ON that female actress, Low, who completely justified the homophobia in the article. She said “well, he is gay and as agay person he should be used to that reaction”….hope NO ONE in the industry hires that bigot (with her bigoted friends) again

  31. Bear says

    So your telling me Mikey that because someone doesn’t believe what Lacy did was right makes them a Homophobe? And they are bigots for not liking that an actor would come off stage and assault a paying customer. Wow what are you like 10 yrs old?
    I doubt any of this would have even made the news if the drunk had yelled “your fat” slurs. Would you still be calling these actresses bigots?

  32. JR says

    Actually the blame goes on the theater. The house manager should have handled it. And the art director/producer didn’t care about the performance. Every director/producer that I have known would be screaming and yelling for the house manager to handle.