Joseph Gallo’s “Yuppies Invade My House at Dinnertime” wasn’t written to be an interactive play, but Applied Companies co-founder Joe Barry had other ideas.
Barry interrupted an evening performance of the play at Hoboken’s Mile Square Theater last Wednesday, the Jersey Journal reported. The retired developer of Applied — now Ironstate Development — wasn’t pleased with the depiction of local landlords and developers in the 1980s.
The incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. during the first act of the play, which featured Barry as a character himself. One witness said Barry was cursing in a “somewhat loud voice,” while another said he yelled “this is all lies” before approaching the stage, incensed by the characterization of landlords pushing out tenants to redevelop properties in the midst of the famed fires of the 1980s.
When Barry reached the stage, he knocked over the music stand of Hoboken councilperson and moonlighting actress Jen Giattino. That led one of the witnesses, former Jersey Journal photographer Bill Bayer, to confront Barry on stage.
Police responded to the scene, though Barry wasn’t arrested. The actor portraying him, however, also had a chance to confront him and the retired developer made his identity clear to everyone in attendance while being escorted out. Then, the play resumed.
“How are you going to forget the play and that night?” Bayer said afterwards, describing the surreal evening.
Ironically, the play is named for a book Barry co-published, a series of letters new residents sent to Barry’s Hoboken Reporter newspaper in the 1980s. The playwright interviewed community members from the period before writing the play.
Barry and his father co-founded Applied Companies in 1970. It started with a focus on Section 8 housing, but ultimately developed luxury buildings in the city. In 2004, Barry started a sentence of more than a year in federal prison after a guilty plea to paying $115,000 in bribes to a county executive to support one of those luxury developments.
— Holden Walter-Warner