New musicals are always cause for excitement. Revivals are wonderful treats as well, but without the new, there won't be treasures to revive later! I was certainly intrigued by the transformation of the successful documentary "Hands on a Hard Body" into a stage musical; how would they take a story of ten people trying to win a truck by keeping at least one hand on the truck at all times and outlasting all the others ? The choreography with the massive, bright red truck is so inventive, and I loved hearing each of the poignant stories told by these talented actors. One of the best things though, was getting to see the excitement of the cast at the stage door after the show. I think for any show, but a new musical especially, there's always apprehension about how it will be received, and having enthusiastic audience members waiting to congratulate you must be gratifying!
Every one of the actors who came out was warm, friendly and appreciative. There was no barricade set up, so it was just a lot of milling about trying to catch a moment with each of the actors. There's always a challenge at the stage door, especially when there's no organized "signing line," to keep your eye out for any of the actors you wanted to meet in particular, without being rude to the actor who is signing for you at the moment. I would never want a less well known actor to think I wasn't just as grateful for his/her time and performance as I was for the better known actor emerging just after! The milling crowd also makes it much more difficult to get decent photos, but the fun remains :)! And although I didn't get a photo of Keala Settle ("Norma," the evangelical Christian relying on a Higher Power for stamina), she gladly signed Playbills and chatted with everyone. I loved her in "Priscilla Queen of the Desert," and she is a scene-stealer here, receiving one of those seemingly endless laughs from the audience at one point in the show.
Another actor I loved in the show and enjoyed meeting at the stage door was Jacob Ming-Trent, the endlessly hungry and supportive to all "Ronald." This was another photo that was just too hard to get, but he might have one of the best smiles in the business! :)
One of the charming things that happened at this stage door was that Dale Soules ("Janis"), was having everyone who asked her to sign their Playbill, sign a little keepsake book of her own. This is the second show I've seen her in ("Hair" was the other), and, along with Allison Case (also from "Hair") and Jay A. Johnson ("Working"), it was great to experience these wonderful performers in such different roles!
Here's a taste of the show courtesy of the show website:
Hunter Foster is the brother of another wildly talented actor, Sutton Foster (recently of "Anything Goes," and the ABC Family show "Bunheads"), and recently guest-starred on her TV show as her fictional brother :). In this show, he plays "Benny," the combative, repeat contestant, and previous winner, eliciting resentment from most of his fellow contestants. The character's story is central to the theme of "holding on" to what's important in life, and he is, arguably, the hardest to root for, but I thought he did a great job in keeping his story intriguing and meaningful despite the hard edges.
Keith Carradine, as "JD," partners with Benny to make it through the grueling contest. The love story with his long-suffering wife, played by Mary Gordon Murray, is a big part of the heart of the show.
Dale Soulis is "Janis," who with her loving husband (William Youmans) cheering her on, fights hard to better their life but knows what's really important. You can see her "autograph book" being signed by a fan on the right while she signs their Playbill.
I just love Connie Ray, and her hilarious turn as "Cindy," the dealership rep trying to rein in the craziness into which the contest is spiraling. I welcomed the chance to tell her how much I also enjoyed her in the 2010 play "Next Fall," and we bonded over being left-handed!
After "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," a significant crowd waited at the stage door, primarily for two of the leads, Scarlett Johansson and Benjamin Walker (from the sound of it anyway :)). The crowd bias was so evident that some of the supporting cast members (who I would have loved to personally thank) just skipped the crowd altogether and walked quickly off without anyone noticing, clearly thinking that no one would be interested in them. In fact the woman next to me, who had been at the play, dismissed Emily Bergl (who played Mae, Maggie's sister-in-law) as "no one," and then misidentified the great Debra Monk (Big Mama) as having played Mae. The confused woman even remarked that Debra Monk should have played Big Mama since she was a bigger woman and the character of Big Mama called for a heftier build. Yeesh. And she dismissed each of them haughtily as not really worthy of her attention because Scarlett Johansson and Benjamin Walker had not yet emerged. We all have our favorites of course, and sometimes it's not always easy to recognize the actors off stage, but it's always frustrating to me when the supporting cast is spoken of as "nobody," despite the hard work they just did for us.
Debra Monk emerged to applause, signed and took photos and graciously spoke with everyone who spoke with her. She went down both sides of the crowd and took her time. Ciarán Hinds, Big Daddy, also received exit applause and likewise took his time, signing and chatting and posing for photos.
I have now been at two stage doors (and have the below matched set of photos) from which Scarlett Johansson shot as if from a cannon, with hat/hood, quickly signing a random few Playbills and posters, and jumping into the waiting car. She was out and gone in a flash, and signed for a few at least; but did not speak or really engage with anyone. I was only a few feet from her face in a flurry of waving Playbills, posters, etc. and I can say with confidence that she is stunning :).
Benjamin Walker tried to skip the (greatly thinned out) stage door waiters by shooting out another door down the block into another waiting SUV. He was spotted by some young women anxious for his attention and did pose for some photos as others rushed down to see if they could catch him. For whatever reason, he didn't stay around to get to the small group waiting for him, and there were some disappointed folks. I couldn't help but think of the contrast with what happened after "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" when he walked out the stage door on his own, no waiting car, and stopped to sign for anyone who asked him. I'm guessing that the issue this time might have been that it was a Sunday performance that would have marked the beginning of his "weekend" and he may have had a plane to catch, or just somewhere to be. That's what keeps the stage door interesting...you never know exactly what will happen :). Unless of course it's Scarlett Johansson...she's pretty predictable apparently :).
I will also say that the "sign by" that SJ does is preferable (whether you're a lucky recipient of her signature or not) to Katie Holmes' decision after "Dead Accounts" to stand a few feet away from the relatively small crowd of fans, and sign a stack of Playbills collected by the stage door manager to distribute back to their owners, without ever looking up, greeting or otherwise acknowledging those waiting. I think folks were happy she signed, but perplexed that she couldn't at least look up and say hello while she was standing there. In contrast, Norbert Leo Butz and Jayne Houdyshell (the true stars of the show) definitely took time for each person waiting.
p.s. Judy Greer, the other well-known actor in "Dead Accounts" didn't stop at all; it was my birthday, so she must have been rushing off to get me that gift she clearly forgot :).
The instant I saw that Patti LuPone and Debra Winger would be on stage together in a David Mamet play, The Anarchist, I knew I'd make every attempt to see the show. It's the sort of thing that I find irresistible about the stage: the chance to see gifted actors perform in person.
I'd seen Patti Lupone in a Broadway show, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," and in a cabaret performance at 54Below, but this was the first time for a straight play, no music. And I've loved Debra Winger for years as a screen actress, but had never seen her on stage at all. So, from my perspective, this was perfect: just these two talented women, in a tension-filled one act, one room, one conversation standoff, sparring with words and body language only. Mamet's writing is never soft or easy...and this was no exception. The play is about a woman in prison (LuPone), for a long ago bombing during the 60s, who is up for parole, and defiantly pleading her case to the warden (Winger) who must rule on her fitness. It wasn't a great play, and closed early due to less-than-positive reviews. But I did appreciate the performances, and thought the chemistry between Patti and Debra worked well.
I didn't hold out a great deal of hope for the stage door because I wasn't sure whether they'd want to sign on a raw December day, but I took my chances, and was helped out by the frigid temperatures and the light audience. Both Patti and Debra were gracious and kind, and took time to sign and exchange greetings with everyone who had waited. Patti was fine with having photos taken of her, but did not pause for them, or pose with fans. Debra was willing to pose with fans, but was in somewhat of a rush and the photo had to be quick. So my photos are not the best, but as is always my priority, I was glad to have the chance to say thanks for the performance to each of them in person, and they couldn't have been nicer in return!
Patti in conversation with a friend before greeting fans
Debra was such a good sport about taking photos!
It's not what you think. I mean the term "crushing" quite literally here. As in, I almost got crushed to death at the stage door for "Glengarry Glen Ross" (starring Al Pacino).
The stage door after a show that features a "big name" is always a bit dicey. Unless you're right up at the front of the teeming masses, it is highly unlikely you will get the coveted signature on your Playbill, or even get an unobstructed shot of the actor. Case in point, I have a most excellent photo of Daniel Radcliffe's hat (no face, just hat..and an ear~see below) after "How to Succeed..." from across the street; that's as close as you could get.
So you need to make a beeline for the stage door after the final bows if you want even a ghost of a chance. I've been in extremely claustrophobic stage door mobs before. In fact, one of the more worrisome ones was at "Promises, Promises" for Kristin Chenoweth & Sean Hayes. I somehow got propelled through the crowd to within one layer of the barricade but was immobilized; I couldn't even get to my purse or pocket for my camera or phone to let my friends know where I was after we'd gotten separated. A very nice woman next to me passed my Playbill to those actors I couldn't reach, and it was worth the uncomfortable 40 minutes to get to see Kristin (she's adorable & so sweet!) & Sean (also very nice). But it would have been impossible for me to get out of that mob even if I'd changed my mind about waiting! I had to just hang in there and find my stage door zen. :)
The other crazy stage doors were those for Scarlett Johansson & Liev Schreiber after "A View From the Bridge," Alicia Keys after "Stick Fly," Alan Rickman after "Seminar," and for Al Pacino after "The Merchant of Venice."
Photos are generally not my motivation to go to the stage doors, but if I can maneuver my camera, I figure why not see what happens.
Scarlett Johansson at left; Liev Schreiber below left; Alan Rickman
But honestly, nothing compared with this past Friday night's scene. I had really decided that I wasn't going to worry too much about the "Glengarry" stage door, as I'd met Al Pacino after "Merchant" (he bounded over and gave me a big hug; still not sure why, but hey, it worked for me :)), and knew it would be chaos. However, I really love Richard Schiff, Bobby Cannavale & Jeremy Shamos and figured I'd at least survey the situation before I gave up the fight. This was the very first performance of the play; it had been scheduled to take place a couple of days earlier, but Pacino had another commitment out of town and they delayed it to, thank goodness, the night I had tickets! So that also meant that it was the very first stage door for the cast as well.
It was deceptively calm at first. The aggressively controlling stage door manager was physically preventing people from entering the small barricaded areas without showing that you held a ticket from the show (he pretty much whacked me across the chest in his zeal, so I knew he was serious about this!). I didn't have much time to think, so I popped into the holding pen while I decided whether to wait or not~the decision was then made for me as more people piled in behind me, and again I got pushed forward until I was just behind the front layer.
And the waiting was uncomfortable, but fairly civilized....that is, until the first actors began to emerge. It was so crowded that when Jeremy Shamos came out first, and started to walk by thinking no one would be interested in him, a couple of us called out his name to get him to stop and he looked around confused because he couldn't see who was hailing him...and we couldn't move to help him find us. Oh well...Jeremy, you were great and I'm sorry you didn't think we wanted you to sign!!
Then came Richard Schiff and the crowd started getting hyped, pushing forward, waving Playbills and memorabilia. Being of short stature, I soon found myself engulfed in arms, hands, Playbills, Sharpies, and after getting knocked in the head and face several times, I started fighting back so that I could see/breathe, etc. Richard is a quiet, patient soul who calmly signed everything he could reach, including the random "West Wing" photo or memento. If he could see the person for whom he was signing, he'd make eye contact, say "thanks for coming," etc. He tweeted a photo of himself as he was making his getaway that gives you a better idea of the crowd.
And if that was bad, then came Al himself, and it just got nuts. The crowd started surging forward pushing all of us in the front into the barricade and the strap of my shoulder bag started tightening around my neck. The police and stage door guys were trying to control things, but it was tough. They started yelling at those in the back to move back as the people in front were getting crushed, but it didn't help much. And the poor guy next to me, who was ready to bolt after Al left couldn't get out to leave until the police stepped in to part the crowd.
I foolishly thought things would thin out after Al's limo left, but I waaaay underestimated Bobby Cannavale's popularity and it was just as bad for him.
After it was all over, I actually went over to the stage door manager to personally thank him for his efforts in crowd control...and especially for kindly making sure Richard Schiff did not leave without going to both sides of the stage door crowd to sign. Not surprisingly, he said he didn't get thanked very often :).
Was it worth it? Yep. In no small part because humans fascinate me and stage doors are a veritable petri dish of human behavior!!
This August '12 article from the PBS/NYC site, MetroFocus tells us that "[i]n the 2010–2011 season, 10.2 million tickets were purchased by people who lived outside New York City." Well, I had the pleasure of being at a stage door with a gentleman from waaay outside NYC who reminded me of what an impact the theatre can have on the human heart.
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" was a rollicking good time! Every cast member hammed it up in all the right ways, and seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves so much that there was little way to avoid having just as much fun if you were sitting in the audience.
There are more than twenty talented actors in this cast (not including the adorable canine who makes a cameo), and meeting them at the stage door after the show was more than just signatures and polite greetings. Fans were still laughing and talking about who they voted for in the "to be determined" ending that makes the denouement of the show different for each audience. Who was the murderer? The pair of lovers that end up together? The mysterious detective investigating the crime? As artistic director Todd Haimes says, in the show guide provided by the Roundabout Theatre:
"At the point where Dickens left the novel, the show will literally stop, and the performers will ask the audience to decide how it should all turn out. It isn’t up to Rupert (writer/composer) to decide what Charles Dickens might have written. Instead, the audience gets to vote on three different questions, and each performance can have a different outcome. With several characters or pairs of characters as options for each vote, Rupert wrote songs for each and every possibility, meaning that the show has hundreds of possible combinations of endings (some of which Rupert himself has yet to see!).
Interestingly, some of the fans at my performance pointed out to one of the actors at the stage door that the combination of Rosa Bud and Helena Landless were not an option for the audience to vote for, and it had seemed a natural. The actor noted that it had been discussed as a possibility, but the director decided against it.
(photo and study guide page courtesy of roundabout.org website)
My performance happened to be on the very first weekend of previews, so the actors were particularly fun to meet, as they lamented the challenge of memorizing myriad endings (some of which may never come to pass!).
Below are Stephanie J. Block (Edwin Drood) and Will Chase (John Jasper) interacting with fans after the show.
Andy Karl (Neville Landless), Peter Benson (Bazzard) and Robert Creighton (Durdles) were all smiles; as were the fans :).
Chita Rivera was wonderful as "Princess Puffer;" oh would that I will have her energy when I reach her age (80!!). She did not come out after the matinee because she had guests visiting; instead she had the stage door manager collect the Playbills and signed them backstage.
But the best part of this stage door experience was the jovial fan standing right behind me who was bubbling over with excitement to be there. He spoke very little English, but each and every time one of the actors would emerge, he would exclaim, with childlike glee, "I came all the way from Spain!." That seemed to be all he could really express in English, but for a few "thank you"s and "wonderful"s. And it wasn't limited to one actor in particular. He had clearly loved everything about the show and was just thrilled with it all! And In doing some checking, I've discovered that broadwayworld.com has a Spain-specific site
The actors were clearly touched (as were all of us around him, I think), and I will always remember his ebullient "I came all the way from Spain!" whenever I express my enthusiasm for what a great experience the stage door can be!
If it was possible to order up stage door experiences from a menu, then my meals on Sept 21-22 would be deemed delicious :)!
Jake Gyllenhaal after his performance in "If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet," an off Broadway play. He is an incredibly sweet guy; so patient with all the fans (of which there were manymanymany). I commented on how intense the play is and how difficult it must be to perform it 8 times a week, and he said that he was thankful it was only 90 minutes :). He also seemed genuinely appreciative of all the thanks being offered. I think you can tell when reactions become perfunctory, but his was definitely not.
One of Jake's costars is Annie Funke; who gives an achingly poignant and totally fearless performance as the bullied and neglected teenager in this dysfunctional family. I loved her, and loved getting to say thanks in person. My hotel was right across the street from the theatre and she and her party came over to the hotel for drinks after the show. Clearly I have good taste in hotels!
Paul Rudd and Kate Arrington are two of the four actors in "Grace" at the Cort Theatre. It's a dark, twisty roller coaster of a play that left me breathless. I again mentioned to both actors how impossible it seems that they can give these kinds of emotionally draining performances every day (and twice on Wed & Sat!). Paul responded that he was, in fact, exhausted, but loved the play. Kate said she was glad there was no intermission and had just gotten through a run of a show that was over 3 hours long, so this seemed easy in comparison :).
Ed Asner and Michael Shannon were the other two actors, and I got a chance to meet them the next day at the Broadway Flea Market, but on Saturday, in the words of the stage door manager "Michael is getting his hair cut, and Ed's taking a nap" :). Ah, the glamorous backstage life on a two-show day! As I say in my Stage Door Tips, avoid Saturday matinees if you really are anxious to meet a particular actor, as they don't always do the stage door between shows.
In honor of the story, it seems only fitting to post these photos in black and white :).
The "Chaplin" stage door was so much fun! A really nice and jovial stage door manager saw to it that everyone waiting had a great experience and that is always a bonus! More importantly, the cast was just a blast...really happy to interact with all; posing with anyone who asked, chatting as much as you wanted, and hanging around to make sure they'd gotten to each person.
Rob McClure, in particular, is a sweetheart. He took so much time with everyone, and that's impressive considering he is in pretty much every scene of a 2 1/2 hour, physically demanding musical. Count me as a fan for sure.
Rob on the left; Jen Colella (Hedda Hopper) and Wayne Alan Wilcox (Charlie's brother; in the hat) center, and Jen again on the right (it was her birthday that day!).
The young boy who plays Charlie as a child and Jackie Coogan, Zachary Unger, is in the foreground; and the other young boy signing is Ethan Khusidman, who plays a young movie theater usher. Zachary has remarkable poise and personality!
In the summer of '76, my parents gave me a great gift in taking me to NYC for a friend's party and including a Broadway show in the weekend. I don't remember how we chose "Shenandoah," but I will always remember gazing down from the mezzanine and being captivated by the music, the story and, most of all, by the star, John Cullum. He was truly a giant on stage for me.
Years later, I had the incredible good fortune of seeing the profound musical "The Scottsboro Boys." The arguably risky concept of setting a horrifying event in the civil rights history of the United States in the context of a minstrel show seemed somehow wrong. But the result was breathtaking. Again, a critical part of the success for me was John Cullum (by then 80 years old) as the "host;" in equal parts southern gentleman, avuncular emcee and cold villain. The entire cast was spectacular, and I will be forever grateful I was in that audience. Sadly, the concept was hard to market and this show closed way too soon~a show like this is what makes storytelling in theatre so important and profound.
This past weekend, I not only got to see John Cullum in a new play, "Detroit," with David Schwimmer, Amy Ryan, Darren Pettie and Sarah Sokolovic; but I finally had the chance to meet this great actor and legend, and say my thank-yous, for the wonderful theatre with which he has gifted me over the years.
As it turned out, Cullum was only in the very last scene of the play. But it was the scene that grounded the spiraling descent into madness that had come before. After the cataclysmic and fiery (literally) denouement of the relationship between the 4 main characters takes place, it is Cullum's character that brings the audience back to a place where you can leave the theatre feeling as if human beings are a resilient lot that will land on their feet in the end.
I really like the Playwrights Horizons theatre "stage door" logistics; the actors will most often simply walk into the lobby as they leave and it's a spacious area with seating. The staff will let folks wait in the lobby until they have to close up, and then you can wait in the vestibule or outside the door. So it was easy and enjoyable to chat with Amy Ryan, Sarah Sokolovic and Darren Pettie as they emerged. All of them talked about how emotionally draining the show is (and this was a 2-show day!); so I was not surprised when the staff told the crowd later that David Schwimmer had left immediately after the show and wouldn't be coming out to sign. I would have liked to have been able to tell him personally how impressed I was with his performance, but I understand why he might not have had the energy to be social!
For me, in the end though, it was all about John Cullum, and I almost missed him! There were enough people waiting, and he is such an unassuming figure, that he had walked by me while I was talking with one of the other actors. So I saw him in the outer lobby in the midst of a small group and was able to catch him there. And what a lovely, gracious, kind man he is...we chatted briefly about the play and he talked about how special he thinks it is; and then chuckled and said "however, if you nod off, you'll miss me." (I told him there was really not much chance of that happening :)!). And I got to tell him thank you for both "Shenandoah," which the person next to me was also doing, and "The Scottsboro Boys."
Instead of getting smaller as he ages, in my eyes, the 82-years-young John Cullum, is more of a theatre giant than ever!
"Neither rain nor snow nor sleet"....yep, it was cold and rainy after the performance of "Wit" starring Cynthia Nixon, and it didn't surprise me that I was the only one waiting at the stage door at first, clutching my umbrella in one hand and attempting to keep my Playbill dry with the other. By the way, I will still admit to feeling a bit uncomfortable if I'm the only fan waiting, but I'm almost always happy I've overcome the awkwardness and had the chance to meet the cast.
In this case, the play moved me deeply, and I really wanted to let the actors know how much I appreciated their efforts; particularly Cynthia. Her performance was absolutely fearless; she made this raw, resilient, fragile brilliant woman dying of cancer so real and so relatable. And she stripped naked at the end, fully lit~bald from head to toe, so to speak. I was in awe and wanted to thank her.
Every actor who exited was happy to sign and chat about the show (despite all of us getting progressively damper :)). But I was completely starstruck when Cynthia emerged. As is often the case with seeing actors off stage after the show, she seemed tiny in comparison to the seemingly huge and formidable presence she had on stage. A baseball cap covered her bald-in-real-life pate and it was clear the show takes so much out of her; yet she was so appreciative that people had waited in the rain for her (I had been joined by several others by this time), and was kind enough to thank us individually and talk about how much the show meant to her as well. No question, she's beautiful, hair or no hair. By the way, I saw her with her wife at a show recently (now 3 months later) and she was dressed up for the evening and I almost didn't recognize her with her hair grown back!
When I read in the Playbill for "Tribes" that the deaf star, Russell Harvard, profiled in this New York Times article, had attended Gallaudet University, I decided I wanted to try and tell him in person how much I was moved by his performance. It was raw and emotional...and I loved it. My only concern was that, although I studied American Sign Language at Gallaudet many years ago, my proficiency is hovering around nil due to disuse.
The production was intimately staged at The Barrow Street Theatre, with the audience surrounding the kitchen set of the family in the play (but does double duty when the action moves outside). A huge kitchen table dominated; the one meeting place where this dysfunctional family comes together to fight, love and live. The table provides a separation between the characters, reinforcing the emotional distance. The nature of the staging really made me feel as if I was sitting at the table with the family, being pummeled by the misunderstandings and accusations and barbs being hurled around. When I studied sign language in the 80s, I gained a great deal of insight into the issues faced by "mixed" families, with both hearing and hearing-impaired members. The clash of "cultures" can be confusing and painful. This play dealt with this so well, and Russell Harvard's "Billy" was accessible and vulnerable. This is complicated and fascinating subject matter and the cast, including Mare Winningham as the mother and Susan Pourfar as the young woman, born hearing to a deaf family but now losing her hearing, who both opens and closes doors for Billy, are all excellent.
I waited tentatively in the lobby after the show, wanting to meet Russell and Mare Winningham in particular (I've loved her work for a long time), but feeling a bit self-conscious as it looked as if it were mainly friends of the cast who had waited. I had brief conversations with several of the actors though; all very gracious and appreciative! Mare came out after a while and was also fun to chat with. We talked about the chemistry of the cast and how satisfying the story comes across. She mentioned that she loved this group of actors and that they hoped for a long run (as do I!!).
Finally Russell emerged and he was intercepted almost immediately by a couple that introduced themselves as friends of a director he'd worked with in the past. Russell was clearly pleased to see them, and it gave me the opportunity to get an idea of how much lip reading he was comfortable with, as the couple did not seem to know any sign language. There were some challenges as they all tried to understand each other; Russell speaks vocally, and is generally understandable, but it does take patience on everyone's part. I was quite impressed with how lovely he was about taking the time to have the conversation without any signing. When it was becoming clear that there were hiccups arising, I almost stepped in to offer to finger-spell (about all I can still do with any proficiency), but they ended their chat right about that time.
I then had the extreme honor and gift of an extended personal chat with Russell about the show (he loves doing this role), his time at Gallaudet and hopes for the future. When he found out I was from DC and had attended classes at Gallaudet, he told me how much he adored the city and misses it. We agreed that the area around Gallaudet has changed a great deal in just the past few years, and we think we might even have shared a professor (who's been at the university for many years). Russell was extremely patient with my attempts to use whatever signs I remembered, finger-spelling and, hopefully, speaking slowly enough (a challenge for me! :)) so that he could read my lips. I felt awkward and fumbling, but when he asked if he could give me a hug because he'd enjoyed our conversation so much, I was left so thankful that I had overcome my anxiety and had this special interaction.
There is a philosophy of communication that I learned about at Gallaudet called "total communication," i.e., using every possible means to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired: speaking, signing, gesturing, etc. It's a philosophy that could be applied to any time we interact with someone. Being understood is a gift.
UPDATE Jan 31 '13: "Tribes" will be running at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles from Feb 27 - Apr 14 '13 with several of the original cast members, including Russell Harvard, Will Brill (who plays Daniel, Billy's troubled brother) and Susan Pourfar.
...even if it means you might end up with the prop woman signing your Playbill! When a show involves elaborate costumes & makeup and/or has an abundance of fast-moving choreography that doesn't lend itself to focusing on one ensemble member's face, it can be difficult to know who's exiting the stage door as you're waiting for the more-recognizable leads to emerge. My experience after Jesus Christ Superstar last night proved to me why it's worth it to watch carefully and take the chance of asking someone to sign, even if you aren't 100% sure she/he was in the cast.
The cast of Superstar is large, and between the costumes and heavy makeup, it was a bit hard to tell the ensemble/swing performers from the orchestra members, stage hands, backstage guests, etc. So the crowd was a bit hesitant to reach out to someone they didn't immediately recognize; and the performers felt awkward assuming that someone would want their autograph or to meet them, and would just walk by. But one young woman came out and, while I wasn't certain she was in the show, something told me to ask her to sign. Well, you would have thought I'd told her she'd won a flat screen television! She was overwhelmed that she was being recognized; and once I asked, all the folks around me also asked, and soon she was giggling and blushing and squealing with delight. I think it might have been the first time she'd ever been asked to sign a program. And she went right on giggling all the way down the line, signing away. Cutest thing ever.
My other favorite thing from this stage door was the young woman standing next to me, who'd I'd guess to be about 18 or so, who told every actor how much she loved the show because it was "so unexpected and fresh; like nothing she'd ever seen before." Why did I love this so much? Because this show is 40 freakin' years old!! How great that it would seem so fresh and new to a whole new generation. I mentioned this to one of the actors and we had a good laugh, and marveled at how this production has brought something so new to the table. Des McAnuff is quite brilliant.
All the actors commented on what a great audience it was, and I agree; wildly enthusiastic and appreciative of the show; Given that this was only the third performance of the show on Broadway (it had only started previews the night before), it was a great night for the actors and the audience!
Stage Door Tales
Every stage door has a story.