Theatre Talk Thursday: Most memorable stage door experiences

Welcome to Theatre Talk Thursday, StageDoorDish.com’s newest weekly feature story that’s all about you, our amazing readers. Each week we’ll be discussing a topic about the Broadway and theatre world including favorite shows, dream casts and your favorite memories.

To start this feature off, it seemed appropriate that we would draw from the site’s name so this week we’re talking about stage door experiences.

Members of StageDoorDish.com team answered the question about their all-time best stage door experience and now we’re eagerly awaiting to hear from you!

Greg Hildreth holding a pineapple. Any PATSC fan knows why.

Greg Hildreth holding a pineapple. Any PATSC fan knows why.

Samantha S., Founder and Editor-in-Chief 

Pineapples are really, really heavy. I learned that factoid the hard way when I brought one to the first preview of Cinderella in January. Although I usually bring gifts for my favorite performers, especially on milestone performances, I brought the pineapple as an extra-special for Greg Hildreth who I previously saw in Peter and the Starcatcher. It was so fun to see Greg’s reaction to receiving a pineapple and the confusion on the faces of everyone around us. It felt like we had our own inside joke. Meeting Santino Fontana, who I have the utmost respect for, was also a highlight of that night. Even better, when I went back to see Cinderella, all three of the actors who I brought gifts for – Greg, Santino and Laura Osnes – remembered me without prompt which is always a really rewarding feeling.

Rory O'Malley holding a gold frog.

Rory O’Malley holding a gold frog.

I will never forget attending Rory O’Malley’s final performance in The Book of Mormon. By chance I was able to purchase the last available seat in the orchestra just days after Rory made the announcement that he would be ending his run as Elder McKinley on Jan. 27. I arrived with several gifts in tow and was in tears by the time Rory sang “Turn It Off.” In a complete act of happenstance during intermission, after I decided to splurge on some merch and was on the way back to my seat, I spotted Rory’s boyfriend Gerold Schroeder and talked with him for a few minutes about Rory, the mood backstage and how everyone was holding up. At the stage door, Gerold and I said hi to each other again before Rory came out and remembered who I was from visiting the show a week before. Part of the thrill of that stage door experience was being present for my favorite actor’s final performance and thanking Rory in person for everything he does for the Broadway community and as a humanitarian. I also convinced Matt Doyle to sing “Happy Birthday” to a fan that evening and her response was priceless.

There are so many other stage door experiences that come to mind as ones I will never forget. Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Celia Keenan-Bolger are two people who will always put a smile on my face. They’re so kind and so genuine and I’ll never forget how surprising it was for Andrew to thank me (instead of than the other way around) the first time we met.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger

Andrew Keenan-Bolger

Every time I meet Adam Chanler-Berat I become severely tongue-tied. Adam is the only Broadway star who has rendered me speechless and it happens no matter how many times I meet him. Knowing that Ben Fankhauser remembers me as the one who gives him grief for never straying from his “thumbs up” pose makes me very proud, even if he hasn’t strayed from his signature pose.

I could easily write a memory for every stage door I have ever visited, and every actor I have met, because each is different and filled with part of the magic of what makes Broadway so special.

Alan C., Managing Editor

My stage door experience was humble but electrifying. I had just seen Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter, a troubled but astonishing play about a tragic love triangle gone horribly wrong. It was a show where the actors outshone the plot, but their commitment was so thorough that I could not help but turn around after getting to the car and rushing back to talk to one of them. I had the opportunity to catch Drew Wall, a local Dallas actor, as he talked with a friend. I told him that his performance in the show was gripping, brutally honest, and uncompromising. I asked him how he did it. He said, “no pretend.” It looked exhausting, and I was happy to let him know how much his work meant to me. It was an experience completely worth running back from the car.

Wendi R., host of “The Great Wendi Way” and video news blogger

Wendi with Audra McDonald

Wendi with Audra McDonald

So turns out picking a favorite stage door experience is harder than it sounds (sort of like picking a favorite Broadway show), but I’m breaking the rules and narrowing it down to my top three favorites (which in itself is a victory.) The first would be the “most dedicated fan” stage door experience. In the summer of 2008, my family was on vacation in NYC, and we had just seen Spring Awakening while I was at the height of my obsession for this musical. Well, it was pouring rain outside, but that didn’t stop my sister and I from waiting (while my parents ducked into a coffee shop across the street…way to be true fans, parents). We ended up with autographs from Matt Doyle and Jenna Ushkowitz, so needless to say waiting for some Broadway stars in the pouring rain is just sometimes what a fan’s gotta do.

The second would be “these Broadway stars could totally be my best friend” stage door experience. This occurred in December 2011, after my family and I had just had our first Book of Mormon experience. The stage door was crowded, and it was very cold (especially to four Texans), but we patiently waited and met Josh Gad, Andrew Rannells, Rory O’Malley and Nikki James who are the nicest people in the world. Josh Gad even gave my mom a hug because she told him how much she loved him in the movie The Rocker. Best friends? I think so.

The final favorite would have to be the “star struck” stage door moment. This occurred this past January after my mom and I saw Evita. We had just seen Ricky Martin (after pushing through hoards of fans…most of whom I’m pretty sure hadn’t even seen the show), when I spotted none other than Audra McDonald walking through the stage door. My mom and I had a star struck moment and eagerly awaited her to come out, at which point I had an ultimate fangirl moment and asked to take a photo with her. She is so nice, you guys! So it didn’t have much to do with Evita, but it was at the stage door, so…

Confession: Sometimes I look forward to visiting the stage door more than I look forward to seeing the actual show.

Tess H., Intern

My favorite stage door experience involves two of my favorite things: Peter and the Starcatcher and Celia Keenan-Bolger. After my second time seeing the show, I knew I had to stop by the stage door and grab pictures and autographs from the cast members. It was the middle of July and even though it was night it was still pretty warm, which made standing extremely close to other people kind of uncomfortable. Next to me was this adorable little girl, who could not have been more than five years old, maybe even a little younger. This girl was babbling about the show and how much she liked it and it was quite endearing. No actor was rude to her or anything at the stage door, they all signed her poster and playbill and asked her what she thought, but what Celia did really stood out. When she got to the little girl she got down on her knees to be at her level and proceeded to ask her a variety of questions ranging from what other show’s she had seen to her favorite part of the play. The little girl answered each question and was absolutely beaming as her mom pulled her away from the stage door. I still think about this experience a lot and even though I wasn’t directly involved it’s stuck with me. I really admire how kind Celia was to that little girl, it made my heart melt and it proved to me that I couldn’t have chosen a better role model.

Which stage door stands out in your mind as the very best or who do you wish you could meet at a stage door? Is there a show you’re dying to stage door this spring? The only wrong answer is no answer at all. Have fun, be respectful and let’s talk!

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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald
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One Response

  1. Okay please explain the pineapple for those of us who haven’t seen PATSC (sad I know. I would like to)