During a Tuesday (Dec. 27) night performance of iconic stage play Death Of A Salesman, Wendell Pierce was forced to break character in an attempt to reason with a riotous, disorderly woman. The incident occurred at the Hudson Theatre in New York City and was captured on video by several patrons on social media.
One attendee praised Pierce for how he handled the distracting ordeal. “That Wendell Pierce is one of the great actors of his generation should hardly be a secret. But tonight, in the middle of his electrifying performance as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN, he was forced to break character when an irate, seemingly inebriated audience member disrupted the play’s second act so intensely that the action had to be suspended,” the Instagram user recalled.
“When the house lights came up, he patiently & heroically pleaded with her to leave peacefully despite her insistence that she should be carried out forcefully (she was eventually escorted out by police). After the play resumed, Pierce segued seamlessly back into the role of a lifetime—his first appearance on Broadway in three decades—an acting job all the more remarkable given the real-life drama that could have derailed the entire night.”
The heckler and her companion seemed to leave during the intermission, but returned and were allegedly issued a warning. A Reddit user chimed in, “A little while later she starts screaming at the top of her lungs that she wasn’t leaving and if she couldn’t see the rest of the show neither would anyone else.”
The woman even reportedly demanded a refund, leading Pierce to urge the ushers to give her cash—which didn’t work. In wake of the situation, the play’s producers issued a statement.
“We’re grateful to the entire team at the Hudson Theatre for working together to resolve the situation and resume the performance as quickly as possible,” it read. The play will continue its run until Jan. 15.