Theatre Memories: Stage Door Stories

It should come as no surprise that I am someone who goes to the stage door after a show. I didn’t actually start stage dooring (yes, I will be using stage dooring as a verb throughout this post) show until I went to New York for the first time in 2012. Since then I’ve gone to the stage door of every Broadway show I’ve been to, and a few shows in Toronto. I have noticed that while stage dooring is done in Toronto, it is not as big a thing as it is in New York. The following are some of my own personal stage door experiences!

1st Stage Door Experience (also Busiest Stage Door Experience):

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. My first Broadway show was also my first stage door experience! And what an experience! To this day, it is still the busiest stage door I’ve been to. It was Darren Criss’s second day in the show, so it’s not surprising that it was a zoo. I didn’t get anywhere near the front of the group. I didn’t get any autographs. I got a few pictures from a distance where I’m pretty sure you can see parts of heads and sleeves. At one point I was standing on a ledge or barrier or something and did see and hear Darren, so all things considered it was the best I could have gotten from where I was and it was still great. (And, actually my dad, who ended up standing in a different spot from my mom and I, did get one of the actor’s autographs on his Playbill.)

Best Stage Door Experience:

I have had some really great stage door experiences, but I suppose the “best” would probably be after seeing the Godspell revival, also on my first trip to NYC. This time the stage door was nowhere near as busy. There were other people there but it was nothing like How to Succeed. I was right at the barrier right near the doors where the actors came out. I met and got pictures with almost every cast member (except Morgan James and Celisse Henderson). I also had longer conversations with Telly Leung and George Salazar which was really exciting for me! (I had actually seen George in a tour of Spring Awakening that had a one show stop in Kingston.)  My Godspell experience is certainly one I won’t forget!

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Photo collage I made of stage door pictures after seeing Godspell in 2012 (This is still the background on my laptop). Moving clockwise starting at the top left corner the pictures include Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Wallace Smith, George Salazar, Telly Leung, Uzo Aduba, Corey Mach, Nick Blaemire, Lindsay Mendez.

Worst Stage Door Experience:

This one goes to If/Then. I want to state right off the bat, this being the worst experience has nothing to do with any of the cast members. My issues came from the other people waiting at the stage door. And it wasn’t all bad. I got to meet and get pictures with quite a few of the cast members. At one point though, as we were waiting for Idina to come out, a really tall person came up right behind me and with people in front and beside me, I felt closed in on all and couldn’t really move or see . It was overwhelming and pretty uncomfortable. Yes, when it’s a busy stage door there is only so much room and it gets crowded, but this time it was just a bit too much. When Idina came out I did get some pictures of her but I didn’t end up getting her autograph. I just wasn’t close enough/pushy enough I guess (it was nothing to do with Idina herself, who I know can only do so much when there are so many people and in a short amount of time). Like I said, in terms of the actors though, everyone was great! It was just the crowd with which I had an issue.

Least Busy Stage Door Experience:

There have been a few times when I’ve gone to the stage door for shows in Toronto and I’ve been the only one there. This was the case the last time the Phantom of the Opera tour was in Toronto. I may have been the only person there but I got a lot of autographs! When Buyer and Cellar was playing in Toronto I went to the stage door where there were two of us (the other person being my mother who had been at the show with me!). I got to meet Christopher J Hanke though, which had an added bonus because I had also seen him as Bud Frump in How to Succeed in Business, but, like I said before, I wasn’t anywhere near enough to get any autographs at that show!

Best Stage Door Experience Not at the Stage Door:

I saw the In the Heights tour twice. Once in Kingston and once in Toronto. After the Toronto performance I ended up meeting the cast when we were on the way back to our hotel. I had seen the show with my parents and best friend and as we were on the subway I looked over and saw people I thought I recognized from the cast. We debated for a while whether or not it was them and whether or not to go over to them but finally we did, asking if they were in fact from the cast. When they confirmed it, I asked them to sign my souvenir program. It was as they began passing it around that I realized how many of them were actually there! I had recognized two of them!) I talked to them for a little while, telling them how I had also seen the show in Kingston. They were all really nice and it was great of them to take the time to talk to us! It was a really cool experience!

Biggest Celebrity I’ve Met at the Stage Door:

In terms of celebrities (beyond the theatre world), I would say there is a tie for this one between Josh Groban, Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney, although I had the most interaction with Laura. I got Josh’s autograph after seeing Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. In that instance it was a case of him going along the group quickly signing autographs and not posing for pictures. It was still really cool though! I met Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney after seeing The Little Foxes on the same trip. The stage door for The Little Foxes was not very busy and as well as getting both of their autographs I also got a picture with Laura Linney!

People and Moments that Stand Out From Other Stage Door Experiences:

  • Alex Brightman after seeing School of Rock. He was really nice and such a great Dewey! I talked to him about loving the movie growing up.
  • Laura Osnes after seeing Bandstand. I’ve been a fan of Laura’s for a long time and it was a dream come true to get to see her in a show and then meet her at the stage door afterwards! (I wish now that I had gotten pictures with the rest of the cast too.)
  • Ramin Karimloo, Christy Altomare, & Derek Klena after seeing Anastasia. We talked to Ramin for a bit as fellow Canadians and I’ve seen him perform a few times before. (He’s amazing). We talked to Christy for a while. She was really taking the time to talk to everyone and she was extremely nice. She made sure we met Derek too because he had gone to the next people while we were talking to her. He was also great!
  • Norm Lewis after seeing Phantom of the Opera. He was the last person to come out, quite a while after everyone else, but I remember him being really nice and talking to everyone and posing for pictures. (This was also a bit of a weird experience because we were all waiting in one spot, then, after we’d already been there for a while, were told we couldn’t stand there and had to move to a different spot. It all worked out in the end, but I found it strange that we hadn’t been informed of the “right” place to wait earlier. But I still got to meet Norm Lewis, so it was great!)
  • Andy Karl and the rest of the Rocky cast. I was so excited after seeing that show and meeting the cast was the icing on the cake. I was right near the end of the group that was waiting at the stage door, which worked out really well for getting photos and spending a little time talking to the actors, including Andy.
  • I’ve also had a lot of good experiences with the security at various Broadway stage doors. A lot of the time they have been great about letting everyone know if people are still coming out or if that’s it for the night. The people at the Godspell and Bandstand stage doors were particularly good about keeping us updated. I can only imagine what they have to deal with night after night!
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One of my my more recent stage door highlights: meeting Laura Osnes after Bandstand in 2017.

It’s a common thing in this post that the actors I’ve met at the stage door have been really nice. But it’s true, they have been. I really appreciate everyone I’ve met (talked to, posed for a picture with, had sign my Playbill/souvenir program), knowing that it’s not a part of their job to greet fans at the stage door! And I totally understand and accept when people don’t come out the stage door. I’m so grateful for the excellent experiences I’ve had and look forward to any future stage door experiences!

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Finding My Way in the Theatre World (A Work in Progress)

Obviously, I love the theatre (every post on this blog and the existence of this blog in itself are a testament to that!) and theatre plays a very big part in my life, but when it comes to where I am and where I see myself within the theatre world, where I fit, well, I’m still trying to figure that out.

In interviews with theatre professionals (actors, directors, designers, etc.) the topic of education is one of those topics that always seems to come up. It’s always a question of did they go to school? Did they not? And whether or not they did, the conclusion is always the same: there is no one way to “make it” (whether that means on Broadway specifically or just in the theatre world in general). Just because going to school is right for one person, doesn’t mean that that’s necessarily the right option for someone else. It depends on each individual person. In my case, I did study Drama at university, though I wasn’t in a “theatre program” per se (it wasn’t a conservatory program or a BFA or anything like that). I was in a general Bachelor of Arts (Honours) program in which I majored in Drama (with a minor in Art History).

Before I went off and studied Drama at university however, I grew up in a town that didn’t have a whole lot of options when it came to theatre. There are a couple of theatres and companies in nearby towns but overall it’s not the best area for gaining exposure to the theatre. In high school I wasn’t interested in taking drama classes, except for the musical theatre class my high school offered every other year, which I took in grade 12 (a class in which we wrote and performed a musical). I knew a life in the spotlight wasn’t for me (I had/have neither the talent nor the confidence for it) and drama classes typically seemed to be performance based. I hadn’t even read many plays before studying Drama at university. The only plays I really read in high school were by Shakespeare (though I was one of those students who did enjoy reading Shakespeare in high school). I was very much interested in theatre in high school and loved seeing shows I just didn’t have a whole lot of experience making theatre.

So while my interest in (obsession with) theatre began earlier, when it came time for me to decide on post secondary education, I had no idea what I actually wanted to do (I mean, I still don’t, but we’ll get to that). I did look into some theatre programs but, like I mentioned before, I knew that I didn’t want to be a performer and I did not want to go into a program for which I would have to audition. Though I was more interested in the production side of theatre, I didn’t really know that much about it or have much experience in it. Nothing seemed like quite the right fit. I didn’t even know for sure if I wanted to go into theatre, I just knew that I liked it (a lot), and that it would be cool to be a part of it in some way.

I decided to into a general Bachelor of Arts (Honours) program. I did get into my top choice of school, Queen’s University, and I got into a program that allowed me to spend my first year in England going to school in a castle (Herstmonceux Castle). In first year I took a general selection of courses (Art History, Drama, English, Film, and some others) and second year was when we declared our majors. I had enjoyed both Drama and Art History in first year so I decided on a medial degree with those two subjects (sort of like a double major but not quite). I found I was enjoying my Drama classes more than the Art History ones so for third year I switched to a Drama major with an Art History minor, which was definitely the right decision for me.

I really liked the Drama department at Queen’s and the variety of classes it offered which allowed me to figure out my own place/path in the program. There were of course the mandatory course requirements, some theory and history courses, some technical with required practical elements of working on the crew for a department productions. Studying Drama at university, I got to learn about and experience all of the technical and production elements that go into the creation of a show that I just hadn’t experienced and didn’t really know about before. I took design courses, looking at set, lighting and costume design. I also took playwriting and Theatre for Young Audiences (in which we wrote plays and then performed them at an elementary school in the area, my group’s play being a kid version of Macbeth. Yes, you read that right!). All of my professors were great as well and helped to make my experience at Queen’s the positive one that it was.

It was great getting to work on productions both for and outside of class. There were so many theatre companies with so many shows being put on at any given time. Some were actually a part of the department and some were companies organized by students outside of the department. With all of these productions there were lots of opportunities to try new things and gain new experiences. At one point my interest was focused on sound design and I was able to work on a number of productions doing that but then I decided I wanted to try my hand at some other jobs so that’s what I did! During my time in Kingston (I also stayed a year after graduation to work and to work on more shows and I continued to figure out what I wanted to do and to just gain more experience) I worked in such a variety of positions on different types of shows. I was on set crew, sound crew, props crew. I did set, props, paint design and sound design. I worked as an assistant technical director and an assistant stage manager. I enjoyed all of it, even though it did get stressful at times. I was able to explore and learn both about the theatre and myself, including how I work both on my own and with others and in leadership positions, like being a crew head. I loved working on shows (and still love it). The collaboration, the creativity, being a part of something, it was all so rewarding. And with so many productions going on around campus, there were a lot of different styles/genres of theatre to experience- plays, musicals, established productions, student written shows. It was a good way to learn about what I really like and am interested in on both sides of the stage.

I don’t think I would have gotten in to theatre (in such a way, or maybe at all) if I hadn’t done it the way I did. I was able to sort of find me way into it, figuring out the things I liked to do and being able to experiment and try new things. Studying drama the way I did increased my overall interest in, respect for and understanding of theatre and my appreciation for it. I learned a lot from my program and I’m so glad that I chose it.

Now I’m out in the “real world.” I graduated 3, almost 4 years ago (it will be 4 years this year) and I am still trying to figure out what I really want to do with my life (beyond knowing that theatre will be a part of it one way or another). For now though, I am happy that I do actually have a job in the theatre, working in front of house, working with other theatre-loving people. It’s great knowing that I have a role in that world, as minor as that role may be. I have also stage managed a couple of productions recently, and while I don’t think I want to “be” a stage manager (professionally), I do enjoy it and I enjoy being a part of the process of creating and putting together a show, and that I’ve been able to do it outside of school!

Overall the theatre industry doesn’t really seem to be the easiest to get into, especially when you don’t know specifically what you want to do and to be able to make enough money to live off of. It is nice to be living in a city where there is a fairly large theatre scene, though it’s nothing compared to NYC or the West End. And there are not really a lot of other theatre-related jobs, by which I mean jobs that might fall outside of the standard positions in a theatre or on a production. Every so often I will look at the job listings on the Playbill website and there are such a variety of jobs. I will see jobs that look interesting and think “maybe I could do something like that,” but we just don’t always have those same sorts of options or opportunities here, which can be a little disheartening.

In all honesty, I can’t really picture myself doing anything specifically, which is extremely helpful when you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. For now, I am grateful to have a job in a theatre and one that lets me be a part of that world, surrounded by people who are also interested in and a part of that world. I think writing this blog is also me trying to find a place for myself or rather, create a place for myself, in the theatre/Broadway world. Now if only I could stay motivated to update it regularly!

 

The Drawbacks of Distance

With social media, YouTube, and more and more productions touring and being filmed (legally) it is very easy to keep up to date with all things Broadway, even when you don’t live in NYC. In my first post on this blog I talked about the ways I keep Broadway as a big part of my life even though I live in Canada. 

But then there are times when you really notice just how far away you are from New York City and this post is about those times.

Like I said, social media really is great for keeping you up to date with all the Broadway news and lets you see pictures and videos of pretty much everything that happens, but sometimes I find it also just draws attention to all of the things you are missing because you aren’t there. Sometimes it works to think about how expensive some of those things are and knowing that you wouldn’t be there even if you were in the city but being far away, you know there really is no chance at all.

There always seems to be some Broadway-related concert or one-time-only event/performance happening  in New York. Following anything to do with Feinstein’s/54 Below is both a good and bad thing here because I love hearing about all of the upcoming performances and seeing the videos from them when they are posted on YouTube. At the same time though I wish I could see them in person. I have had the privilege of attending one performance at 54 Below (Matt Doyle) and it was a great experience, which also increases my desire to return. Signings and performances at places like Barnes and Noble and the Drama Book Shop also get my attention.

Then there are the annual events like Broadway Barks, Stars in the Alley (which I did get to attend this year), Broadway in Bryant Park, Broadway Barks, the Broadway Flea Market, BroadwayCon (I’ve been able to attend this both years so far and a lot of my New York trip planning has become centred around this particular event). All of these events look like so much fun, whether it’s getting to see performances or having the chance to buy souvenirs and memorabilia and see the stars outside of their shows. Thankfully I have managed to attend some of these but there are just too many to plan trips around all of them, as much as I wish I could!

Then there are the shows themselves. Broadway shows are always opening and closing which can be hard to watch from afar. Sometimes there’s a particular show or performer you wish you could see. There are the shows with limited runs and shows that will never tour, or if they do it won’t be for a long time, or not in a city near you for a long time. Or sometimes your favourite shows (which perhaps you have gotten to see) are closing and you can’t get back to see them before they do.

If I were living in NYC I think I would be more inclined to try for lottery or rush tickets since, if I didn’t win one day, I could just try again another day. As it is when I do go to New York it’s always for a limited time so I usually either get tickets ahead of time or get them at TKTS (with some preparation ahead of time with regards to which shows I want to see and looking at what had previously been available to have an idea of what the options will be). There have been some exceptions to this, but generally, that’s how it goes. I don’t want to risk not getting a ticket for anything at all which could come with rush/lottery tickets, at least the ones for which you have to physically line up. The number of digital lotteries now helps with this a bit. On my last trip we did actually enter the Dear Evan Hansen digital lottery and when we didn’t win that (it was Dear Evan Hansen, we weren’t expecting to win!), which we found out in the morning, we were still able to head to TKTS to pick up other matinee tickets that day. I would certainly be more inclined to try more digital lotteries on future trips, but it would be a lot nicer to be able to try it more often without that potentially being my only chance to see the show.

This month (September) has been one of those when it’s particularly disappointing to not be in New York, as there are/have been lots of events and show closings. This month’s show closings, that stood out for me, included Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 (September 3rd), Bandstand (September 17th), and Groundhog Day (September 17th). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I would have loved to have had the chance to see both Great Comet and Bandstand again. At one point, before its closing was announced, I had even checked to see when Bandstand was on sale until, wondering if I would be able to see it again when I plan on going back to New York for BroadwayCon. At that point it wasn’t, but I had hoped for an extension, not a closing notice! I also wish I had gotten to see Groundhog Day. I had heard a lot of good things about it. The day I saw BandstandGroundhog Day had been my other choice for a potential show to see. I certainly don’t regret my decision as Bandstand is one of my new favourite shows but I wish I could have fit Groundhog Day in too. (And I do love Andy Karl in a show!)

Notable events this month include the Theatre Mania Block Party, which happened on the 10th, and the Broadway Flea Market which is actually happening tomorrow (the 24th). One of my goals in life is to attend the Broadway Flea Market. Someday I will be there!

There is just something about New York and the Broadway “scene.” There’s a sort of vibe to it that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s a place where it seems there are always these theatre-related events happening and even when they aren’t there are still the shows themselves. There are so many of them! And that’s not even counting Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway! The list goes on and on. I know there is a lot of good theatre in other cities too but when your passion is (Broadway) musicals it just seems that New York is the place to be.

Outside of New York City there is also a lack of places to buy Broadway related items (merchandise, books, etc.) which also leads to looking at shipping availability (or sometimes lack thereof) and expenses. Yes there are some book options at Chapters/Indigo (the big chain bookstore we have here in Canada), Amazon, etc., but we don’t have anything like the Drama Book Shop. There used to be a store in Toronto called Theatre Books but, unfortunately, it closed a few years ago. So while it is possible to get Broadway/theatre related books here, it’s not the same as having somewhere (like the Drama Book Shop) to go and browse and be surrounded by those types of books, and like-minded people who are also interested in those books. It gets more difficult if you’re looking for Broadway merchandise outside of the city. New York has stores like Theatre Circle and One Shubert Alley that are full of Broadway merchandise and memorabilia. There actually used to be a store like that in Toronto too. I only managed to go there once and then it closed not too long after that, which was extremely disappointing. There is a lot of Broadway merchandise available from the Playbill Store, which does offer international shipping but it gets quite pricey. It’s probably better for my wallet that there are limited options here in Canada, but the lack of (reasonably priced) options can be annoying.

Obviously when topics like this come up so does the question of relocation. Relocation is one of those issues that varies depending on where you want to relocate from. In all cases, money is definitely a factor, but then it get even harder and more complicated for those of us who’s distance from the city is beyond the borders of the USA. As soon as international relocation is considered visas are involved and things get more complicated. It’s true that non-Americans do successfully make the move to the city, but, at least for me, it isn’t really an option.

This is when I know I just need to focus on all of the ways I can keep Broadway in my life (again going back to my first post here) and I am very thankful for all of the websites, posts, videos, etc. that do bring Broadway to the rest of the world. And I can focus on the times that I do get to make the trip to the city. Every time I get to plan another New York trip, it’s so exciting, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to make it a somewhat more regular occurrence over the last couple years. It’s always nice knowing I’ll be back in the heart of the theatre world I love, even if it’s just for a few days at a time!

Gone Too Soon

Just recently two of my current favourite Broadway shows posted their closing notices: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and Bandstand. In all honesty, I’m not particularly surprised by either (more so Great Comet) but both are very disappointing to me. (I know I just talked about both of these shows recently in my post about my last trip to New York City but both are very special to me and felt they deserved talking about again in their new circumstances.)

With the recent controversy surrounding Great Comet and the lack of any proceeding casting announcements (until announcing the closing and that Dave Malloy would be back), and with Dave Malloy tweeting that the show was in trouble, it seemed, unfortunately, inevitable that Great Comet would close. I had still held out hope that something could save it, but no such luck. It is disappointing that it is closing in such a way and just how everything went down with it. It’s such a unique show with an extremely talented cast. It’s sad that the ticket sales weren’t there without a big star attached. It’s definitely good enough to hold its own without one. I’m also disappointed that I won’t now get the chance to see Great Comet from the orchestra or stage seats. Not that is was actually likely to happen before but now there’s really no chance of it. It’s also sad knowing that I will never get one of the letters from the actors that are handed out during “Letters.”

A lot has already been said about the Great Comet controversy and I’m not sure there’s really much I can add to the conversation. It’s just very a shame how everything worked out. I do think it might have been helpful (for lack of a better word) to have mentioned that the show was that much in trouble when they were releasing statements and why they were happening that way (why Mandy’s run in the show was cutting Oak’s run short). I suppose I can understand why they wouldn’t necessarily want to put that out there initially but I do think it would have helped with the public’s understanding of what was happening and why. But I also understand that there’s a lot more to it all, on all sides, than just that, that it’s a complicated situation, and also that we (the public) will never really know the whole story of how things played out.

With Bandstand I didn’t really see the closing notice coming and hoped that it would run a very long time, but it never really seemed to take off (like it should have!!!). I don’t think I ever saw anything negative about it. And I know they’ve also been getting a lot of recognition for all they’ve been doing working with veterans and portraying the lives of veterans and the sorts of things they go through. It too has an extremely talented cast, with a lot of them playing their instruments on stage too!

I had hoped that both Great Comet and Bandstand would have long lives on Broadway. I think they both bring a lot to the theatre world. Great Comet brings its unique style of storytelling and music and its use of space and all around design (there isn’t really anything traditional about it). Bandstand brings its brand new, original story (something we don’t always see a lot of) and it’s beautiful use of music and dance as part of its storytelling. 

There’s always something a bit sad about a Broadway closing. There are the limited run shows that are only meant to last a short time; there are the runs that are cut short; the open-ended runs that end suddenly, or not so suddenly and have just run their course; and sometimes there are the shows that close before they even open (Nerds comes to mind as a recent example of this last one). Whether it is planned or not it is a sad thing when it comes to an end. I know I’ve been emotional when a show I’ve been working on comes to an end, and they always have set runs).

This is also one of those times when it’s annoying to not live in or near New York- I can’t just go see these shows again before they close. I just have to see them close from afar, and just be happy that I got to see them at all. At least they will live on through their cast recordings, which I have been listening to a lot lately. 

The one silver lining to Broadway shows closing is the opportunity for new shows to open bringing new stories and songs (if it’s a musical) for us to fall in love with. Really, when you think about it, on show’s closing is another show’s opening. But that doesn’t take away from or replace the sadness that comes when a show you love is closing. 

So to Great Comet and Bandstand (and now to Groundhog Day too, even though I didn’t get a chance to see that one), and everyone involved in these shows, all the best in your last few weeks and thank you for bringing these stories to the stage!

The Woodsman

I just watched The Woodsman on Broadway HD and wow! It. Is. Stunning. If you get a chance to watch it, do. The Woodsman tells the origin story (or a version of the origin story) of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. The staging in beautiful and the use of puppets incredible. It’s done so simply but also so intricately.

The set is quite simple and moved around by the actors. There is a single violin player on stage playing throughout while the performers provide other sound effects, for example clapping to indicate the sound of chopping wood and whistling for birdsong.

The lighting design is beautiful, with the added use of handheld flashlights throughout to great effect. They flashlights are used as an indication of magic and the simple act of shining them on a pair of sparkly shoes shows the power of the slippers. There is also a beautiful moment where flashlights are used as fireflies.

There is no dialogue in the piece, except at the beginning which sets up the story and the location, and one other particular moment. Even so everything, every emotion and thought, is conveyed so clearly through the actions, the sounds, both man-made and from the violin. Even through the puppets. Instrumental and vocal music help to set the scene and the mood and emotion.

Puppets are used in a variety of ways including for the Witch, the Woodsman (once he’s been turned to tin), a very intricate, multi-part tiger, and some very effective crows. Some of the puppets require only one person but some are multi-person use puppets. All are amazing to watch.

It’s great that there are filmed productions like this. Ones that show the variety of what theatre can be and do. I’m a sucker for the traditional musical but I also love to see different types of productions like this and I love that things like BroadwayHD are making these recordings available and more accessible. If you get a chance to watch this production, I would highly recommend it!

 

Stage Door: A Privilege Not A Right

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.

 

Theatre Awards Shows: Tony Awards 2017

It’s been a few weeks since the Tony Awards, but I thought I’d make a quick post about this year’s ceremony.

I did enjoy the ceremony this year. I wasn’t sure about Kevin Spacey hosting going in to it but I was pleasantly surprised. I particularly enjoyed the opening number. I liked how it embraced the fact that Kevin wasn’t necessarily the obvious choice for host and that he’s not a big “musical theatre person” like Neil Patrick Harris or James Corden but he still did a big, entertaining production number with all of the references to the shows of the season. I particularly liked when they moved the Evan Hansen cast to Kevin’s leg for the Groundhog Day part. I also thought it was good that they focused on Kevin Spacey’s strengths (ie impersonations) and that they worked to embrace what they had, which I think was a good way to go about it.

One thing that had me really excited about this year’s awards was that there was some real competition, as opposed to last year when I don’t think anyone was surprised by a Hamilton sweep. (Not that it was bad that Hamilton won so many awards, but it is also fun to have more unsurety this year.) There were a couple of categories I was fairly certain about (Best Leading Actor being one of them) but there were also a lot that seemed up in the air to me. It was also exciting for me because I had actually seen a few of the nominated productions and performances this year and ones that actually stood a chance of winning! That also meant that I had my own favourites to win in certain categories, even if it wasn’t likely that they would actually win. Of the wins I was hoping for, I was really happy to see Great Comet win for both Set and Lighting Design (both incredibly deserved, in my opinion), and I was so happy that Andy Blankenbeuhler won for Choreography for Bandstand (1 of its only 2 nominations).

Those two winning shows also had two of my favourite performances during the ceremony (Great Comet with a medley of “Dust and Ashes” and “The Abduction,” and Bandstand with “Nobody”), both of which I have watched multiple times since the broadcast. Ben Platt’s performance of “Waving Through a Window” from Dear Evan Hansen was (not surprisingly) beautiful and it was nice that he was well enough to perform. I can only imagine what was going through his head leading up to Tony Day, which I’m sure would have been stressful anyway! (If you weren’t aware Ben had to miss a few shows of Dear Evan Hansen on June 9th and 10th as he was put on vocal rest, but he was able to perform on the Tonys on the 11th). Come From Away also had an excellent performance which, again, just made me want to see it more and regret missing it in Toronto. I think one of the funniest moments in a performance was the fact that Christian Borle was wearing a wig for the Falsettos performance, one that did look like his hair before he shaved his head.

I liked the way they had the playwrights of the Best Play nominees introduce their own plays. To me, it made sense as a way to get a good summary of/introduction to the plays, since they clearly know what they’re talking about when it comes to their own shows! Speaking of the plays, another highlight occurred during the acceptance speech for the Best Play winner, Oslo, when there was a shoutout to the front of house staff at the theatre! (As someone who works in front of house, it’s always great to see that side of things get some recognition!)

What can I say, I love Tony night! And this year I was able to actually watch the broadcast live (hooray for friends with cable!) and had a small Tony party with a couple friends, complete with Tony ballots and Tony bingo. I think my final count for accurate predictions on my ballot was 14.

I said this last year too  but I do still think there needs to be another alternative for watching the Tonys (live). As I said, this year I was able to watch it on TV at a friend’s house but if I had been at home (where I do not have cable) I wouldn’t have been able to. In Canada, CTV was airing the awards and they do offer a streaming service on their website, BUT in order to access that streaming service, you have to sign in with your TV service provider information. If I had a TV service provider I wouldn’t be needing to stream it online! (Thankfully I was able to rewatch clips from the awards online on the CTV site afterwards without singing in!)

With the Tonys and the end of the Broadway season, it also gets me thinking about the upcoming season and I can’t wait to see what it has in store! From everything I’ve seen and heard so far, it’s certainly shaping up to be an interesting one!

(And thank goodness they’re bringing the Sound Design Tony Award back next year!!!)