This post is inspired by some recent interactions on Twitter, specifically Ben Platt’s Twitter (tweets directed at him and his response) and the discussions these interactions have inspired. If you are not aware of what happened, the gist of it is that people were complaining (rudely) about Ben not coming out the stage door after a performance of Dear Evan Hansen and I’ve seen a lot of responses to the situation, a lot from other actors. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen discussions about the stage door on social media either. British actress, Carrie Hope Fletcher has also talked about this topic on social media and her YouTube channel and just recently Brendon Urie, currently starring as Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway, announced that he will no longer be going to the stage door. I just wanted to take a moment and throw in my two cents from the fan side of things.
The following is Ben Platt’s response as quoted directly from his Twitter account, posted on July 3, 2017:
“Performing Dear Evan Hansen every night is wonderful but also hugely tough- as much as I would like to be out there every night, very often I cannot come to the stage door after the performance. My priority must always be self-care so I can recreate the same quality show each night. That’s my job, and what each and every audience member is paying for and deserves. Before you tweet hateful things about how I don’t value our incredible fans when I can’t come to the door, please pause to consider that my responsibility to them is first and foremost to give my all each night. I preserve myself because I value each of them deeply.”
I 100% agree with Ben. The fact that he even felt it necessary to respond, and that he should be made to feel bad about not coming out the stage door is ridiculous to me. He (and any other actor who is put in this position) doesn’t owe anyone an apology, no matter their reason for not coming out the stage door.
I, myself, am someone who goes to the stage door when I see a Broadway show (I’ve been to some in other cities as well but it’s not the same vibe as on Broadway). I’m actually planning a post in which I will talk about some of my own personal stage door experiences, but that’s another post for another time. I do understand being a bit upset if someone you were hoping to meet doesn’t come out the stage door when you’re there, possibly waiting specifically for them. But if that happens, you don’t have to show it. Just move on. And whether or not someone comes out the stage door doesn’t (and shouldn’t) affect your experience of the show you just saw or their performance in it. Sure, it can heighten the experience, getting to meet the actor(s) you admire, but even if you don’t, you still got to see theatre (and when it comes to Broadway, it’s usually great theatre). I can admit that I’ve been disappointed if I didn’t get to meet someone at the stage door, but I’m still happy with those that I did meet and it didn’t change my experience of the show at all. I still left having had a great experience.
I don’t see any point in getting mad at someone for not greeting fans at the stage door. For one thing, the actors DO NOT owe us (the audience/fans) anything, beyond the show itself. You’ve paid for a ticket for a show and that’s it (unless it’s some sort of VIP ticket that includes a meet and greet, but that’s a whole other story!). It’s simply a bonus to be able to meet anyone at the stage door. I’ve waited around for someone to come out before, when there has been indication that they would indeed be coming out and then it turned out for some reason or other they didn’t. And it was fine! Other people who had been waiting as well were getting upset but I didn’t see the point in that. It was only going to be a bonus to meet that person but I also understood that they had no obligation to come out and they had another show to do that night (I had seen the matinee) so it wasn’t really all that surprising that they didn’t end up coming out and it was totally understandable.
In my experiences I’ve generally found the security people at the theatres are good about letting those who are waiting know whether anyone else or anyone specific is still coming out, especially when it’s getting closer to the end.
I also completely get it for someone like Ben Platt who is performing such a demanding show 8 times a week. Like he said is in response, his priority is the show. He has to look after himself first so that he can do the show 8 times a week (because you know that people also get upset when understudies go on, which is a whole other thing that could inspire its own specific post!) Just because someone doesn’t come out the stage door doesn’t mean they care about the fans any less. Sometimes it’s because they care about the fans, and want to make sure that they can see the best show possible that they don’t come out. Sometimes actors have other plans after a show and need to leave quickly, or there’s a reason they need to stay at the theatre, or they have friends/family visiting, or they need/want to relax between shows on a two show day, or maybe they just don’t feel up to it. Whatever reason they have for not coming out is OK (and really, they don’t need a reason).
It sucks that actors are made to feel guilty for not coming out when they have a valid reason (valid meaning any possible reason they have for not coming out, whatever it may be). It’s their choice to leave as much as it’s your choice to wait. A Broadway actor’s job isn’t to pose for pictures and sign stuff after performing a two and a half hour show (and perhaps 2 in one day). Their job is to perform the show. That’s it. Don’t make them feel bad for doing just that.
I’m sorry the performers have to put up with stuff like this because they really shouldn’t have to. It’s also annoying (for everyone) because for the majority of fans it’s all OK, it’s just that select few that have a tendency to ruin things for the rest of us.
Stage dooring can be a great experience and I’ve heard about great experiences from both sides of it. We, the fans, just need to remember that it’s not about us and there’s no need to take it personally if someone doesn’t come out after the show.