Before scoring a $ 150 orchestra seat at the intimate Hayes Theater for Broadway hit “Take Me Out” in March, New York mom of three and die-hard Jesse Williams fanatic Schnelle Acevedo had no clue she’d be in for an eyeful of the buff actor in the buff.
But much to her delight, that’s exactly what she got when she saw the baseball drama, which is nominated for four Tony awards.
“I was actually stunned. I’ve never seen anything like that on Broadway, ”Acevedo, 39, told The Post of Williams’ full-frontal nudity in a rough-housing locker room scene. “It’s a phenomenal play and people can get a lot out of it,” she chuckled.
For months, NYC theater insiders have been flustered over the 40-year-old “Gray’s Anatomy” heartthrob’s bold performance. This past Monday, footage leaked online of the nude shower scene, turning Williams from the talk of the town to a titillating topic far beyond the confines of Joe Allen and Sardi’s. The show’s production company, Second Stage Theater, called the leak “a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and audience” on Instagram, but some say they should be happy for what’s turned out to be a very effective free advertisement. The eye-popping visuals have earned well over 503,000 views on Twitter alone, igniting a fresh frenzy of interest in the old ball game-focused show.
“Jesse Williams is naked on Broadway ??? And I just saw what he’s working with ???? I need tickets, ”exclaimed one fan on Twitter.
At press time, there were only six remaining seats available online for the Friday night show. Those looking to buy tickets over the phone faced hold times of 45 minutes and an automated recording warning callers: “We are currently experiencing a larger than normal call volume.”
“If there isn’t a masterful publicist behind this incredibly – coincidentally ?! well-timed leak – THEN THERE SHOULD BE, ”one theater world insider told The Post.
Another anonymous theater lover agreed, telling The Post: “Topping this kind of publicity will be hard.”
Second Stage Theater, which did not respond to requests for comment, has enforced a “phone-free” mandate for the show, confiscating each audience member’s cellphone, placing it in a protective sleeve and locking it away during the 135-minute performance.
Acevedo theorized that the leaker might have snuck in a second cellphone to record the viral footage. Whoever did it seemed to have Williams’ best interests – and angles – in mind.
“[The perspective of the video] was very complimentary, ”said the digital content creator and founder of New York parenting and lifestyle brand BrooklynActiveMama, noting that she didn’t get such an eyeful in person. “That was not my view.”
The play sees Williams portraying a gay, persecuted Major League Baseball player in the early 2000s. He stars alongside an all-male cast that includes Patrick J. Adams and Julian Cihi.
Acevedo said it’s a deeply satisfying show on a number of levels.
“It’s such a great play with so many levels and insights into the LGBTQ community,” she said. “But if you really just want to see [Jesse Williams’ member in person] you should absolutely go see the play because you’ll probably never get the chance to see it again. ”