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Broadway Shows Trying New Ways To Prevent Cellphone Disruptions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Performers are fighting back against cellphone use while they're on stage, and some theaters are taking extraordinary steps to silence the distractions.

It has been a white hot issue on the Great White Way for some time now -- theatergoers using their cellphones during intimate Broadway performances.

Some even record the performances, as if they they were at a concert, to the outrage and chagrin of the performers on stage, CBS2's Scott Rapoport reports.

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Actor Joshua Henry takes away an audience member's cellphone during a performance of the off-Broadway musical "The Wrong Man." (Credit: Jonathan Frank/Reel Time Video Production)

Recently, actor Joshua Henry literally snatched a cellphone from an audience member's hand and tossed it under a riser during a performance of the Off-Broadway musical "The Wrong Man."

The message was delivered, to the applause of others in the crowd.

Meanwhile, at the Booth Theater, the show "Freestyle Love Supreme" has become one of the first Broadway shows to effectively ban cellphones from performances.

A theatergoer locks her cellphone in a Yondr pouch. (Credit: CBS2)

Audience members are required to silence their phones or put them on airplane mode and place them in Yondr pouches, which lock and stay locked while that individual is watching the show.

The practice is also used at comedian Dave Chappelle's live shows. He was the first to do it.

On etiquette-centric Broadway, it has come to this.

Behavioral experts say when it comes to cellphones, some people just can't help themselves.

"I think it's plain stupid, not just rude, not just terrible, but you just have to have the impulse control and we're lacking that these days," clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere told CBS2's Scott Rapoport.

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Reaction to the cellphone crackdown among Broadway theatergoers is mixed.

"I think it's rude. I think it's good. I think they should take the phones away," one woman said.

"Locking your phone up, of course, is a little bit over the top," one man said.

"During a show, it's, like, just turn it off," another woman said.

"I think you should be able to film at a show if you want to," another woman said.

On the flip side of all this, organizations like the Philadelphia Orchestra have a history of encouraging their concertgoers to turn on their cellphones at performances and share their experiences.

The beauty of that, or not, is apparently in the eye of the beholder.

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