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Actor Fired After Tossing Out Anti-Gay Heckler During 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof' Performance

Actor John Lacy was fired from a production of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" at the Repertory East Playhouse (REP) in Santa Clarita, California after he left the stage to confront allegedly drunken hecklers hurling gay slurs at the cast. 

No efforts were made by producers or theater management to remove the hecklers. 

After the violent hecklers were removed with assistance from audience members, the show continued. Lacy, who was portraying "Big Daddy," was fired after the play concluded that evening. 

His fellow cast member Anton Troy, who was on-stage portraying "Brick" during the incident, resigned in solidarity with his cast mate. Troy posted on Facebook:

I support my cast mate - - no John Lacy means no Anton Troy. 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.

Two other cast members, Missy Kaye and Emily Low, apparently didn't agree with Lacy's decision to intervene with the hecklers. 

From The Wrap:

“I, unlike most of you, am NOT proud to be an actor today,” cast member Missy Kaye wrote on Facebook in response to Troy's resignation.

“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,” Kaye added.

“What if this guy had a weapon? Did that cross your mind?”

Fellow actress Emily E. Low, who plays the female lead, agreed that violence should not have been the answer, adding that part of acting is accepting criticism from the audience.

“As actors we must take the positive audience responses with the negative. It's not always about cheers and standing ovations,” she wrote in the same Facebook thread.

Low added that Troy's character, Brick, is gay, suggesting that the heckler's anti-gay slurs may have been appropriate.

“And, the truth is, Brick is, after all, a gay man,” she wrote. “The material is strong, and it elicits strong responses from an audience, different every night.”

Both actresses have since come under fire for not supporting their cast mate. It's also been alleged that one of the hecklers was Low's boyfriend, which she denies, stating that he was at most an acquaintance invited to the production among hundreds on social media.

Low defended her comments to The Wrap, saying:

“I was just trying to say that sometimes people are — 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,” Low said.

Those people may have the type of inappropriate reaction the heckler had out of hatred or ignorance, but the job of the actor is not to engage with them physically, Low added.

“I disagreed with things being dealt with violently, that's all that it is,” she said.”

“My mother is gay. To be called a homophobe, or to be put on the side of a homophobe … it just breaks my heart,” Low added.

The actress said she supports her castmate John Lacy and does not believe he should have been fired, but she disagreed with the violent steps he took. Low said lead actor Anton Troy mentioned to Lacy during intermission that the heckler made him uncomfortable, but that Troy should have made those feelings known to the producers.

“Anton chose not to inform the producers; he informed John, and of course John got upset,” Low said.

The production of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" has been suspended through the end of its June 14 run with as a result of "cast members leaving the show with no time to adequately re-cast their parts..." according to the REP. 

In a statement the REP also says:

The management of the REP regrets that this situation was not brought to their attention sooner and would like to assure future audiences that disruptive behavior, including disparaging remarks from the audience, incidents of bullying or hate speech, and racial, discriminatory or homophobic utterances, will not be tolerated and offending parties will be asked to leave the theater.

What's your reaction to John Lacy's firing and the stance of his cast mates? What about the actions by the REP?

 

(Image Credit: John Lacy/Facebook) 

 

Comments

If you worked in a store and someone said a slur against you, would you hit them and keep your job?  I think not.  I think everyone has gotten off track and made this a "gay" issue.  It is an assault issue that revolves around a gay slur that is not acceptable.  Assault is not acceptable, no matter what.  Do we know the status of Ms. Low and her cast mates?  There clearly seems to be no love loss between her and the two men in question.  Go out on a limb here... If Ms. Low knew the hecklers and wasn't fond of Mr. Troy and Mr. Lacy...and didn't hear anything in the first act as reported in several articles (when Maggie is onstage most of the time), could she have possibly instigated her social media friends (or real friends) to heckle at the performance?  I have a gut that there are a number of dynamics here that we don't know and perhaps will never know.  Who knows, perhaps an affair went wrong during rehearsals and from the reports, Mr. Troy seemed to be very upset at intermission but didn't inform anyone at the theatre? Nobody did?  I really smell a rat or two or three...Some things are clearly out of the theatre's control unless it is brought to there attention.  I've been at plays where people in my row want to make a beeline for the exit as the curtain falls and the audience is leaping to their feet.  I've been at plays where people answer there phones behind me.  I've been at plays where people have heckled.  In all these situations and more, I kindly asked the party who was not compliant with proper theatre manners to refrain from what they were doing.  Sometimes the response is apologetic and sometimes not.  I've been to thousands of plays.  I've seen plays stop because of audience issues and not once did a professional or amateur actor decide to take it into their own hands like Mr. Lacy. He put the lives of his cast, the audience and the theatre personnel all at risk by what he did.  We all might be applauding him for the gay slur defense, but his actions don't make him right.  Thumbs down on Mr. Lacy and his cohort Mr. Troy.  There's something strange in the state of Denmark...or in the media and not looking at what the whole story is.  The media jumped on a sound bite.  I guess we have to be used to that by now.

Hurrah for Lacy taking a stand.The management needs to take a hard look at themselves and go to Lacy and beg his return.

It seems that the majority of the commenters here believe as I do: that the theater dropped the ball and left the actors hanging without a safety net.   We do not know the entire story, but on the surface it appears that after several comments from these hecklers, the actor took it upon himself to "fix" the situation.   This was a lapse in judgement.   Everyone should have just walked off the stage and the curtain should have been pulled until the situation was rectified.

The Stage Manager, theater management, and the production team are at fault here.   The actor should never have been forced to attempt to control the situation.  "Aiden Solis" stated it very well.

I call bullshit on Missy Kaye and Emily Low. Neither one of you is homophobic. You're just a couple of repressed low self esteem idiots that would not have stood up for yourselves. If the guys in the audience were carrying a gun and were becoming increasingly more violent, John Lacy's reaction could have saved your lives. How dare you call yourselves actors when you don't even respect your fellow actors as human beings. As for the management " Where the hell were you when all this was going down?" I find it difficult to believe that if there were people heckling the actors inside the theatre during a performance that someone from management would have been privy. You're all weak as water!

There has to be more to this story. Lots of gaps in the story here. 

No actor should leave the stage and attack a patron, period.  No audience member should punch another patron, period.    The actor was wrong for not handling it properly.  The patron only made things worse.  Perhaps they are friends?  Could they have communicated via text during intermission about the heckler?  Nobody claims to have spoken to the Looking up the theatre, it is a small space and this whole incident smells like two actors looking for a bigger break.  If the hecklers were acquaintances of Ms. Low, do we know if there was anything brewing behind the scenes?  Any ill will with the cast prior to this situation?  It seems clear from the articles I read, two lead women are pretty united against two lead men.  There has to be more to this story.  When you read a story and it changes it's tone as the day goes on (check out earlier stories), something is not right and I smell a publicity stunt by two actors and a producer looking to make names for themselves.

I agree.   Lots of gaps here.   On the surface, it looks like the actors were having to police the audience which is inappropriate.   Inadequate SECURITY is the fault of the management of the theater and the production team.   Every one should have just left the stage and the curtain should have been pulled until the hecklers were removed.

That actress who said that heckling was just a "negative response" to the performance, is a little daft.  A negative response is getting up and leaving: not heckling.

The right thing to do is sometimes the hardest! I praise that actor for making a hard decision and get getting involved. Shame on the rest for the backlash!

The show must go on... Or at least that's what I've always heard... You can't always agree with the audience, and it certainly doesn't warrant anyone to be physical. I hate to play the devil's advocate here, but truth is, when you're on stage you shouldn't let anyone get the best of your performance. Keep going. Then when the curtain comes down and you step outside, hunt his ass down and give him the WORST beating of his life!!! I do not feel he should have been fired for his actions, but he also shouldn't have acted out like so as well!

I feel sorry for the actress's mom who is gay. Must be difficult having such a clueless daughter. 

Interesting that this lead story doesn't mention that apparently the actor had a physical confrontation with the hecklers. Of course it was the theater and producers responsibility to ensure that the hecklers were removed. The actors should never have been put in that position and neither should the paying audience. Indeed, what if one of them had had a weapon or was otherwise unstable. Do you just let such behavior continue until someone was hurt. 

One wonders what the actresses would have said if this had been a production of say, Raisin in the Sun and an audience member had started screaming "Niger" at the cast. Would it have been acceptable to allow that to continue. Would either the audience or the cast have had to suffer that?

This FAT queeeenie FAG did NOTHING but stamp his foot and SCREAM SASSY nothings at these straight guys. Too bad they didnt bash this FAT FAGS face in, but they probably figured that he was not worth the effort.

Worthless FAGS.

Pathetic human. You're probably gay and can't deal with your own coming out. Here let me do it for you.. ^^^^^^^^ GAYYYYYY^^^^^^^^

Wow - surprised that the actresses are not supporting their fellow actor who confronted the heckler - and what about the Theater Management - nobody thought to stop the heckler -unbelievable.  BTW, the heckler was a friend of one of the actresses and that is why she is criticizing the two actors.

Reads like theater mismanagement.

Exactly.

The whole cast should have just stopped performing & ALL walked off back stage, the management then should have ejected the hecklers & made a statement to the audience that anti gay or racial slurs of any kind or heckling the actors will not be condoned or tolerated by the production staff, actors or venue, if any of the audience has a problem with the plays content, walk off & go the box office for a full refund. Then the play should have resumed.

He did the right thing. The theatre should have taken the lead, and the let it go. I am sorry those actors were treated shamelessly by the theatre. 

The theater management is responsible; it's their house and if they cannot keep the audience in reasonable line. They're the ones at fault here.

The theatre should accept responsibility for failure to act which resulted in the unfortunate incident. The actor should not have been fired for trying to address the bullies. 

That is such crap!! Sometimes you just have to take out the trash yourself. Especially  when nobody else is doing it! I am on the actor's side! The production team should be as well!

John Lacy should NOT have been fired. These jerks were disrupting the show and undoubtedly making members of the audience uneasy. It was the responsibility of the management to throw out those morons and they didn't follow through. It's their fault this happened not Mr. Lacys. Also shame on the two female cast members for not standing up for a fellow actor.

Anti-gay slurs are NOT appropriate. Period. That actress needs help.

I call Bullshit!  The REPS most definitely should have handled the problem before John had to himself.  All blame falls on the theater for NOT taking care of the asshole in the first place.  And those two actresses are so full of shit.  They're just pissy because they're out of a job.  Next time stick up for your fellow actors, bitches.

I think it's ridiculous that he was fired. I don't understand why they think he should've kept quiet when obviously those jerks were disrupting the show.  Patti Lupone kicked out some guy that was taking pictures in the middle of Gypsy, Ramin Karimloo kicked out a guy that decided to take a call in the middle of Les Mis, I don't see why John Lacy's reaction is any different. 

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