Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Stage Door Experiences (all two of them)

Making my way to the stage door after watching a show was never something I had done until fairly recently when, after my second viewing of the Jersey Boys, my friend Hollie said: “you do know we have to take you to the stage door after this”. Half of me was so pleased she said this because I had really wanted to meet the actors ever since I started watching Youtube videos to find out who the Jersey Boys even were. However, the other half of me felt like she’d just said I was going to be part of an electric chair experiment- what on earth was I going to say to these people?! I can be really self-conscious when meeting new people for the first time, and I can either be stunned into silence or I’ll start talking complete nonsense; so you can imagine what I was worried I’d be like meeting people I admired so much. If it wasn’t for Hollie, I’d still be completely oblivious to the experience and I’d still be too nervous to approach it by myself. Not to mention I don’t even know where any of the theatres’ stage doors are, and as I usually go to these shows with friends who do enjoy theatre, but are perhaps not as invested in it as me, I would usually deem it unfair to make them walk up and down side streets with me looking for them.

Back to the story; the show ended and I decided yes, let’s go to the stage door and say hello (baby steps). I had a rough idea of where this door was, because I’d seen other fan’s photos and figured out which bars/shops it was opposite, so this one wasn’t much of a hassle. It turns out I really had nothing to be nervous about. The blue doors opened and the cast came out in steady flow and either greeted people they recognised and some they didn’t, or alternatively they headed off somewhere to refresh for the next show. Basically, they were just like normal human beings- who knew! The first cast member I spoke to was Matt Wycliffe, and the first thing my friend Emily told him was that I was nervous to meet him (thanks Em) and I denied it with a “nooooo I’m not, I’m fiiiiiine”, even though we all know it was actually “yessss, I really am”. Either way, it didn’t seem like he was bothered by that one bit; he signed our tickets and we had a quick chat about the liveliness of the crowd and how it makes the show even better, he gave the tickets back with a smile, and there ended my first encounter with a west end star. I survived!!  Once that was over, I realised how silly I’d been to be so worried about embarrassing myself. When you think about it, they get all sorts of people ranging from the shy to the over confident, but as long as you’re polite, kind, and you don’t start crying, the actors will nearly always be happy to speak to you.

Next to appear a short while later was Ryan Molloy- the star of the show, an original cast member, and the real Frankie Valli’s favourite Frankie Valli. As he came out he was stopped by a couple of girls for a chat, and as he walked away from them myself and Emily approached him, and I waved (it was very much a geeky, ‘I carried a watermelon’ wave) to indicate that we wanted to say hi. Once again, he was very friendly, he signed our tickets, we told him how we loved the show, and this time I even asked for a photo- such progress! There endeth my first stage door experience. The second time I went to this very same stage door was with a different friend, Emma, who loves musicals just as much as I do, and this time as well as speaking to Matt and Ryan, we caught Wayne Smith’s attention. He was such a sweetheart, and he seemed just as interested in hearing little things about us as we were listening to what he had to say.

My main point here is that stage doors are definitely worth a visit, should it be something you really want to do. It can be daunting for some, but don’t forget that even though you may be completely star struck and you fear the sudden emergence of word vomit, these actors meet a wide range of people every day, and they probably won’t even remember that really silly, irrelevant comment about baby monkeys you accidentally blurted out in excitement, but positive thoughts about the show and their performance will be appreciated. Having said this, there is such a thing as behaving unnecessarily over the top in these situations. Below is a link to a great blog post that describes Stage Door Etiquette- basically pointing out how to avoid making the experience uncomfortable for other fans and for the actors. Be yourself, be considerate, and you’re bound to make some really great memories.

Link to Stage Door Etiquette, which partly inspired me to write this post!

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