Despite Being Ousted, Shia LaBeouf was Front Row for First Preview Performance of ‘Orphans’

So no hard feelings, Alec?

After one of the most public Broadway behind-the-scenes squabbles in memory, Shia LaBeouf attended the first preview performance of Orphans on Tuesday night and gave the performance a wildly enthusiastic reception.

To recap: On February 20, LaBeouf left the revival of Lyle Kessler‘s Orphans because of “creative differences” and was replaced by Ben Foster.  Orphans was supposed to be not only LaBeouf’s Broadway debut but his first stage role.  LaBeouf later posted e-mails between him and several other people involved in the production on Twitter that indicated behind-the-scenes friction between LaBeouf and co-star Alec Baldwin.  When Baldwin went on to later attack LaBeouf for his comments about theater — with Baldwin pointing out  his belief that an actor without a theater background like LaBeouf had no business talking about acting for the stage — LaBeouf made public more e-mails that cast Baldwin in an unfavorable light by indicating that he did not know his lines during the early rehearsals. 

LaBeouf purchased a ticket in the front row for the first preview performance, which was apparently not known by anyone in the production.  The New York Times reports that at one point during the performance Baldwin noticed LaBeouf and paused for a moment.  When the play concluded, “LaBeouf shot out of his seat and applauded enthusiastically, his hands raised high in the air,” with Foster acknowledging LaBeouf’s presence, after which LaBeouf quickly left the theater.

The New York Times article sheds more light on the backstage controversy from last month, revealing that LaBeouf and the play’s director, Daniel Sullivan, “butted heads over Mr. LaBeouf’s acting choices and his behavior in the rehearsal room, which four members of the production team described as volatile and self-centered. Mr. LaBeouf also had words with Mr. Baldwin on a few occasions that were described as not collegial. The production team members spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the closed-door rehearsal process.”

While I personally think it was foolish for anyone to think it was a good idea for LaBeouf — or any actor — to make his stage debut in a high-profile Broadway play, I think it was a classy move on LaBeouf’s part to attend the first performance.  Hopefully, this will be the last we all hear about this messy situation!

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