If you thought viral videos of grumpy cats and twerking grandmas were silly fare, meet the young man responsible for the latest media storm to sweep the Broadway community: Nick Silvestri, a 19-year-old Seaford native, is making headlines because of how he attempted to charge his phone … on a Broadway stage.
On July 2, Silvestri attended a performance of “Hand to God” at the Booth Theatre. Prior to the show’s 8 p.m. curtain, Silvestri realized that his cell phone battery was low. With no outlet within reach of his orchestra seats, he chose to utilize the closest one available. There was only one problem — it required his hopping on stage to plug it in. Little did he know it was only a prop outlet, and that his cousin was recording his actions (and those of the security guards who quickly responded).
Many cast members and people in the audience were aghast at his decision, and responded on Facebook and Twitter. The video of Silvestri quickly went viral, and the media took notice. Publicists for the Tony Award-nominated comedy even poked fun at the incident in a social media advertisement featuring Tyrone, the evil hand puppet in the play, with the message “Need a Charge?”
Silvestri, who attends Nassau Community College, where he plays lacrosse, returned to the Booth Theatre on Friday to respond to the attention he had received. “The past few days have been really crazy, and I wanted to have the opportunity to try to explain what happened and also offer an apology,” he said at a press conference, smiling as he chewed gum. “Before coming to see ‘Hand to God,’ I downed a few drinks, and I think that clearly impaired my judgment. I wasn’t really thinking. I don’t go to plays much, and I didn’t realize that the stage is considered off limits. I’ve learned a lot about the theater in the past few days — theater people are really passionate, and have been very willing to educate me. I can assure you that I won’t be setting foot on stage ever again, unless I decide to become an actor.”
Silvestri fielded questions from the press about the impulsiveness of storming the stage, as some have concluded that it was a publicity stunt. “I didn’t mean for it to be like this,” he responded. “It’s funny, right? I was just being me. It’s what I do every day.”
Others asked for details about where he was drinking, since he is below the legal drinking age. Only moments after making his statement, he responded to a reporter questioning his drinking by elusively saying, “I may have.” Silvestri added that he had not been drinking in the city.
“I would like to sincerely apologize to the Broadway community, all the other people in the audience that night, and most importantly, the cast and crew of ‘Hand to God,’” he said. “I am on my college lacrosse team, and I know just how bad it feels when you’re out there working your [butt] off, and it feels like the crowd isn’t on your side or isn’t paying attention. I feel terrible if any of the amazing actors in this show felt at all disrespected by my actions.”
The actors had responded to the incident on Twitter with jocularity. On July 2, Sarah Stiles wrote, “A guy jumped on the stage and plugged his phone into the fake outlet on our set just before we started.” She included the hashtag “#idiot.” The following day, Marc Kudisch wrote, “Dear general audience, an electrical socket that’s a part of the set is NOT for you to charge your iPhone … just an FYI …”
Silvestri finished his statement on a high note. “You can make phone calls and send text messages all day long, so when you’re in the theater for a couple of hours, just put the phones away and enjoy the show,” he said. Moments later, however, he told the press that he doesn’t understand why using a phone in a theater would be a big deal. “I guess it is kind of disrespectful in a way, but I was using my phone before the show, not during it. And [people are] paying to see the show, there’s so many other people there, why just focus on that one person with their phone? Just enjoy it.”