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‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ performances canceled at The Rep

Posted: June 2, 2014 7:17 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2014 7:17 p.m.

The Repertory East Playhouse shuts down its production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" following a disruption of the production Saturday night. Signal Photo by Katharine Lotze


Persistent heckling from an audience member during a performance of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” led to the shut-down of the production’s remaining Santa Clarita Valley run.

“We had a heckler. He was drunk,” said Anton Troy, who played the part of Brick Pollitt — a part made famous by Paul Newman in the Oscar-winning screen version. “He heckled me all through the first act. He booed me every time I spoke,” Troy said in a phone interview Monday.

The heckler’s comments during Saturday night’s performance at The Repertory East Playhouse included homosexual slurs, Troy said, and when the heckler used an inflammatory slur on the character of Big Daddy, played by actor John Lacy. “John couldn’t handle it anymore and he broke character,” Troy said.

“He said ‘What did you say?’ And, at that point, the guy (heckler) stands up and says, ‘What are you going to do about it?’”

A friend of the cast seated in the audience “grabbed him bouncer-style and threw him out of the theater,” Troy said.

“I physically did what everybody else wanted done,” said Tim Sullivan, who ejected the patron. “It’s nice to see that Tennessee Williams is still causing sparks.”

“It was grade A, restaurant-quality bad assery,” Lacy said on his Facebook page of the ejection.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene, Deputy Josh Dubin said, but the heckler and his companion were gone and there was nothing to be done.

Troy says Ovington Michael Owston, executive director of The Rep, fired Lacy. That convinced him to quit as a show of solidarity, he said, and some other actors did the same.

“I’m not going to support that kind of homophobic behavior, and I’m going to support my friend (who was) fired,” Troy said.

Owston declined to comment, referring to a statement on the theater’s website, which states: “An incident during the May 31 performance has resulted in cast members leaving the show with no time to adequately re-cast their parts.”

“We are extremely sorry that our patrons experienced this disruption and will do our best to make it up to those holding reservations for canceled performances.”

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” was scheduled to run through June 14.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




stevehw: Posted: June 3, 2014 9:08 p.m.

Awesome that the guy tossed his ass out of the place.

Loathsome that the theater failed to support their employees.

Rick54: Posted: June 3, 2014 10:35 p.m.

This is such a great little theater. However I will never return as long as Michael Owston has anything to do with it.

TheUrbanLegend: Posted: June 3, 2014 11:33 p.m.

I don't think this really provides a full account of what may have happened. Most accounts of the situation state that Lacy got off stage and addressed the "heckler" with physicality. You should never break character during a show. If something was happening during the first act, why didn't the actors or audience members tell the staff? I'm pretty sure that administration would have handled the situation had they been notified.

You should never address someone's hateful words with violence. That makes you more at fault. The Bryan Stow is a prime example. There may have been some trash talking between him and Norwood and Sanchez, but that does not give them the right to physically assault him.

ricketzz: Posted: June 3, 2014 7:06 a.m.

Does the theater have a curtain? Lower it, turn the house lights up halfway, let the audience work it out. Never react emotionally.

emheilbrun: Posted: June 3, 2014 7:25 a.m.

Be an actor, but never react emotionally. This public service announcement brought to you by the ricketzz School of Theater Arts.

Unreal: Posted: June 3, 2014 7:33 a.m.

It sounds like no one was taking charge except the guy in the audience who threw the idiot out. The actor should never have left the stage but someone should have taken action way before it got to this point.

I would say the guy was ruining the show for everyone else and the curtain coming down, with an announcement that the play will resume momentarily as they take measures to deal with the guy would be the right way to go.

As far as the director and cast members go, they all need to stop with the childish attitude and get off their high moral ground. Forgive and forget.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: June 3, 2014 9:06 a.m.

Sounds like the Mint Juleps were flying!!

boneshark: Posted: June 3, 2014 9:20 a.m.

I'm guessing that admission to the play is not free. So what type of moron buys a ticket to a local theater production and shows up drunk to heckle the performers? Really...??? Did he bring rotten tomatoes and eggs as well? Maybe this brain dead buffoon thought he was at The Vu instead of The Rep?

Having a performer leave the stage...not such a good idea. It should have been handled long before it got to that. Now if the drunk had gone on stage (which happens to bands from time to time), then a full on butt whoopin' is definitely in order.

underwater: Posted: June 3, 2014 9:52 a.m.

how do they know he was drunk? He could of had a speech impediment and low blood sugar and was asking for help.

CarpeDiem: Posted: June 3, 2014 10:41 a.m.

Drunk or not -- that behavior is completley unacceptable! I swear sometimes people in this valley truly behave like they were raised in barn! So uncouth!!

underwater: Posted: June 3, 2014 10:54 a.m.

So CarpeDiem, move back to West Hollywood if you do not like barns!

CaptGene: Posted: June 3, 2014 10:58 a.m.

Was the actor the only theater employee around to deal with the situation? Why wasn't management there to deal with this? Sounds like a pretty poorly run theater.

TheUrbanLegend: Posted: June 3, 2014 11:31 a.m.

CaptGene couldn't be further from the truth. The REP is a tightly ran ship. If staff had actually been notified about this situation, they would have acted upon it immediately. Staff wasn't notified until the actor took it upon himself to resolve the situation and it was too late for them to do anything.

Ovington Michael Owston has been running theatre since leaving college. He knows exactly what he is doing and acted with reason. The actor is trying to control the situation to put himself as the hero and in a positive light.

stevehw: Posted: June 3, 2014 12:08 p.m.

I say good for the actor for standing up to this bigot, and good for the guy who "escorted" him out, as well.

Enough is enough.

nycyou: Posted: June 3, 2014 12:43 p.m.

underwater why should he move back to West Hollywood, we nend people like him to make the city look nice and keep house values up, otherwise we become white trash central. godforbid there be any culture or diversity in this valley

underwater: Posted: June 3, 2014 1:59 p.m.

nycyou. your right. Ok, they can stay. Should have them move to Canyon Country. There is work needed to be done to make it look like Valencia. --edited.

garyr: Posted: June 3, 2014 3:50 p.m.

Sounds like O made a bad problem worse. Back it down. Don't go on record firing someone for reacting to homophobic insults, just quietly don't cast them in the future. I hope the couple in question isn't who I fear it may be. Whoever it was, they should be permanently banned with a photo posted in the box office. And then move on.

PS: us folk in CC like our barns. I would totally have one if I had the space. I think there was even a fella once born in a barn that's held in the highest esteem by 80% of local residents.

CaptGene: Posted: June 3, 2014 8:26 p.m.

TUL: "CaptGene couldn't be further from the truth. The REP is a tightly ran ship. If staff had actually been notified about this situation, they would have acted upon it immediately. Staff wasn't notified until the actor took it upon himself to resolve the situation and it was too late for them to do anything."

What you're saying is that the actor WAS the only theater employee around to deal with the situation, which is exactly what I was saying. If management was doing their job the actor would not have had to intercede.

Thanks for playing. --edited.

IBelieve: Posted: June 3, 2014 8:27 p.m.

I find it hard to believe that no one complained to management during intermission, whether it be the actors or audience members. The guy should have been thrown out, and I support the actions of Lacy, Sullivan, and the other cast members.

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