Last night’s performance of Grace, a new Broadway play starring Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon, was one that won’t soon be forgotten by either the actors or the theatergoers who experienced it. As first reported by Gothamist, about midway through the show, somebody in the mezzanine vomited over the balcony and onto the people below. A representative at O&M, which handles public relations for the Cort Theater, told us that it appeared the patron was drunk. But that might not be the whole story, according to eyewitness Gabe Alfassy.
Though sitting near the front of the orchestra section at the time, Alfassy says he was able to look back and see the entire incident clearly. It all started when the man in question — who appeared to be elderly, according to Alfassy — passed out. He “fell forward so that he was leaning/hanging over the balcony,” Alfassy recalled. “Then as people were trying to get him back up and into his seat, he threw up all over the people below him in the orchestra and then collapsed on the floor of the balcony. A group of about twenty formed around where he was, and everyone in the theater was looking back at the commotion … The stench of the vomit was a little overwhelming, and many people were noticeably uncomfortable, and of course everyone who was vomited on left.”
Bystanders called 911, and although the man was eventually able to get up and return to his seat, Alfassy is unsure what ultimately became of him. In other words, it’s not quite clear whether this is a gross/hilarious story about an old dude who drank too much, or a sad story about an ill elderly man. Either way, throughout the entire crazy episode, the show never stopped:
The actors kept it together, but Paul Rudd was trying to see what was going on during it all, and Michael Shannon was noticeably agitated by what was happening and started speaking much louder than before while staring at the huge group in the balcony. At the end of the show, they all made jokes about it, Paul Rudd saying how as an actor being able to move people to tears or to laughter is amazing but moving them to puking is a whole different league. Then after the show, at the stage door, the actors said how they almost stopped the show because they didn’t know the severity of the situation.
Alfassy later clarified that Michael Shannon is not a monster:
Also to add to what I said before, when Michael Shannon seemed agitated onstage, it was only because he didn’t know what was going on; he wasn’t trying to be insensitive at all. And after the show he was very gracious about it all and expressed his concern for the person(s) involved.