On Wednesday, at a performance of Shows for Days at Lincoln Center, LuPone, 66, snatched a phone from an audience member who was texting during the show.
LuPone's costar, Michael Urie, recounted the incident on New York Live Thursday.
"There was a woman texting throughout the entire show," he said. "She was not in the front row, she was in the second row, and she happened to be in a spot where Patti could get it – on her way out – she just took it. You know it was good, and it didn't disrupt the momentum of the play. It's a tricky thing: if a phone goes off, that's disruptive enough; if an actor stops and acknowledges it, that's even more disruptive. And so this woman, texting, light in her face, everyone could see it!"
In a statement, the Tony winner said she feels "defeated" and is questioning if she wants to continue working in the theater.
"We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones," LuPone said, according to Playbill.
"They cannot put them down. When a phone goes off or when a LED screen can be seen in the dark it ruins the experience for everyone else – the majority of the audience at that performance and the actors on stage. I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore. Now I'm putting battle gear on over my costume to marshal the audience as well as perform."
Urie told New York Live the texting incident "was the worst I've ever experienced it, yesterday's matinee. It's a very funny play and it's a very quiet play, even though Patti LuPone's in it, and she's like a trumpet. It's still a very quiet play and the theater is very intimate ... you can hear a pin drop."
"Patti LuPone will take [your phone] away from you, and you will deserve it!" Urie joked.
Onlookers posted their accounts on social media. However, considering themselves warned, they waited until after the show to Tweet about it, as the time stamps show.
PATTI LUPONE TOOK SOMEONE'S PHONE MID-SHOW BECAUSE THEY WERE TEXTING— Travis (@heytravistravis) July 9, 2015
I saw Patti LuPone deliver her scene exit line tonight at Lincoln Center & SNATCH A CELL PHONE OUT OF AN AUDIENCE MEMBER'S HAND. #theatre— CatsPolitics (@CatsPolitics) July 9, 2015
LuPone has been known to call out impolite audience members in the past. In 2009, she yelled at someone who was taking pictures during a performance of Gypsy – she stopped singing and screamed, "Who do you think you are?" and insisted the offender be thrown out of the theater.
YouTube even celebrated the moment with a remix: