There are stage doors that I swear I will avoid at all costs. You can probably guess them. Scarlett Johansson. Tom Hanks. Daniel Craig. But despite my oaths, somehow there I end up, shoehorned into the masses at the barricades, shifting from foot to foot, trying to stay amused by eavesdropping on the bits of conversation that are going on around me. And now that I'm trapped, mulling over all the other things I could be doing with these (could be many) minutes (wine hour at the hotel maybe? not having to rush up Broadway to my next show? eating dinner?). To date though, I've yet to regret my last minute instincts that I should wait the wait. And really, how could I not wait, after a show about waiting???
But I had seen the situation with the Two Plays in Rep stage door after I saw the first of the two plays, No Man's Land three days before. I was heading somewhere else that evening, and couldn't have waited anyway, but took note of the already sizable crowd being held in a "pen" away from the stage door, with no indication of how any "meeting and greeting" would happen! "Not for me," I thought, as I hurried away, now even less interested in trying after Godot.
So Sunday, it was back to the theater for Waiting for Godot. I started for my seat, but then noticed a security-badge-wearing gentleman just inside. A question unasked is often one unanswered, so I took a chance and asked if he could explain how the stage door would work, noting what I'd seen after No Man's Land.
Sean, I discovered, is a prince among men, and patiently described how he would handle the crowd exiting the theater and those waiting for the meet & greet. But then, he cemented his place in my heart by telling me to find him at the stage door after the show, and he'd show me where to wait.
And show me he did. He made sure that I was in just the right spot to be in front when the barricades were put in place. I thanked him effusively, and proceeded to marvel as I watched one of the calmest, most organized stage door crowds I've ever experienced. Despite the crowds spilling into the street on both sides, Sean never lost his cool. He never berated the fans, and barely even raised his voice. He made sure each actor went to both sides of the door. Consequently, no one was complaining; everyone seemed to remain patient and excited. I took some photos of the crowd to commemorate how impressed I was by Sean's accomplishment...there were a LOT of people everywhere you looked.
The gift Sean didn't realize he gave me though, was a spot next to a delightful theater lover from Mexico! Maru, who will remain one of my very favorite stage door friends ever, and I began chatting when she asked if I could explain how preview periods for shows work; i.e., whether all shows had them, was anything different about them, etc. I was happy to share what I knew, and it turned out that we were kindred theater spirits, with similar taste in shows, and an appreciation for going solo at shows. Maru makes theater journeys to NYC on her own from her home in Merida, since her husband is not as much of a theater buff. She was visiting friends that night after the show, but would be there several more days, so we discussed shows seen and yet to be seen (I recommended A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder :)). And then Maru told me the story of how she came to have a cookie bakery business in Merida: her American husband loved chocolate chip cookies, and was disappointed at the lack of his favorite treats in Merida. So Maru started baking, and Kukis was born.
Meanwhile, all was well back in the land of Waiting!
Each actor came out separately, and somehow managed to get to the several layers of Playbills on both sides of the door. Because there was only one actor at a time, it reduced the chaos. Colin Critchley, the young actor who played Godot's messenger, was the first out the door, and incredibly poised, enthusiastic and just all around adorable. We chatted a bit about how excited he is to be working with this cast (he was previously an understudy in Kinky Boots). Colin, and the other young actor alternating the role with him, Adian Gemme, were still outside when Billy Crudup (below left) emerged, and it was fun to watch them interact; the shared affection clearly in evidence. Both Billy and Shuler Hensley (below right) were so pleasant, and extra-appreciative if we mentioned that we'd seen both plays (both Maru and I had).
It probably goes without saying that the Sirs, Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, were so worth waiting for! A huge roar went up from the crowd for each of them, and they too, were happy to chat; not rushing, as they got to the vast majority of those in the crowd. Ian McKellan did pause for a few individual photos with fans, but Patrick Stewart specifically declined. I suspect this was as much a time issue as anything else. From my perspective, that's a generous decision, because so many more of those waiting will get to have their moment, than if the actors have to stop every few inches and pose for photos.
So, in the end, I enjoyed traveling to No Man's Land, and found Waiting for Godot even more entertaining; but Waiting for the Actors, especially thanks to Sean and Maru, was a true treat as well!!
Stage Door Tales
Every stage door has a story.