Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Broadway debut - one year later

Tonight marks the first anniversary of my first Broadway play - A Moon for the Misbegotten, and tomorrow, my first Broadway musical, Curtains. One year ago this evening, at the tender age of 47, I stepped inside a Broadway theater for the very first time in my life and was immediately hooked. It's never too late to make your debut on the Great White Way, is it?

While it was a chance to see Kevin Spacey's performance in Moon that lured me to New York initially, I've been back three times since April 2007, and I've seen a total of 21 different shows (Moon twice). And while I have my favorites, I can honestly say that I've enjoyed at least a little something about each and every one of them. Going to the theatre in New York City is still a pretty big thrill for me. I'm very envious of people who live there and can go all the time. I just wish I had a chance to see more off-Broadway shows, too.

I've now been inside 18 of the 39 Broadway theatres. There are some I like - the cozy, intimate orchestra section of the Belasco, for example. There are others I'm not crazy about - I felt sooo far away sitting in the rear of the Hilton's orchestra. The narrow, rectangular-shaped lobby of the Richard Rodgers made me feel absolutely claustrophobic. I'm hoping to get to all of them eventually, and if it comes down to the final one, I'll swallow hard, bite the bullet and go see The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic, because that show most likely isn't going anywhere in my lifetime.

This week, I got a comment on a post I wrote awhile ago about going to the stage door after a show to get my Playbill signed. The person who wrote has never been to a Broadway show, but is planning to go see Equus with Daniel Radcliffe, and wanted some advice. Imagine, someone asking me for advice. Can you believe it?

So, to mark the first anniversary of my first Broadway show, and in a shameless attempt to pump up the hits to my blog, (weekends can be slow, you know) here are some words of wisdom to another novice theatergoer.

Before I start, just in case there's one person left on the planet who doesn't realize it, Equus is not a play for young children. It's about a psychiatrist treating a young man who has an unhealthy fascination with horses. Nudity and adult themes are most definitely involved. You'll be seeing a side of Daniel Radcliffe you've never seen in the Harry Potter movies. (I'm not talking just about his acting.)

So forewarned is forewarned. Now, you want to get outside as quickly as possible after the show ends to claim a good spot. (My advice is to make a quick trip to the bathroom, because you might be there for awhile). I'm not sure where the stage door is at the Broadhurst Theatre, but you can ask an usher. With Radcliffe's fame, there'll be metal barricades set up, and a mob scene. You won't have any trouble finding it!

We don't know yet what color the Playbill will be, but I would recommend two different-color Sharpies (available at most drugstores), one black and one a lighter color, like red or silver. You can also check back at the Playbill Web site after the show opens to see what the cover looks like, so you'll have a better idea of which color will show up best.

Now this is important. If you're there alone, make friends with someone standing next to you, so you can trade cameras and hopefully each get a picture of yourself with Daniel Radcliffe. With the number of people, it'll probably be close to impossible. My guess is he'll be quickly signing his name and moving on. But you should be prepared just in case the opportunity arises. (And I wouldn't bother lugging your 800-page Harry Potter book to the theatre, chances are he'll only sign Playbills).

In my experience, the star of the show usually comes out last. Perhaps it's done for dramatic effect, or because he or she has so many important visitors backstage. I don't know. So you could be waiting a half hour or more. (You'll have plenty of company). But don't despair and don't leave until it's obvious that he's not coming out. There'll most likely be security people around to let you know if he's not going to make an appearance.

While there are no guarantees that he'll come out the stage door and sign autographs, I have a feeling Daniel Radcliffe will be pretty accommodating. Once you get your signature, etiquette dictates that you move to the back and give someone else a chance. Be persistent, hold your ground and don't be shy. I hope you have as wonderful and memorable an experience as I did, one that turns you into a lifelong theatre fan. Now go out there and break a leg.


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

First, allow me to congratulate you as you commemorate one year since you saw your initial Broadway show. Given all the reviews you've written over the past year, one would think you've been doing this for a long, long time.

Great advice, too, on angling for an autograph. If the London incarnation of Equus is any indication (and judging from all the preliminary publicity for the stateside version of the show), the dark brown/black poster art will likely prevail, and that is likely to translate to the Playbill cover, too.

And here's hoping that over the course of the next year or so, you'll get into the other 21 Broadway theatres! I look forward to seeing you at some of them!

Esther said...

Awww, Steve, thank-you for all the kind words, for sending flowers to my hotel room during my first trip to Broadway and for helping to make that trip so successful!

Next month, I'll be crossing the Booth, the Lyceum and the Minskoff off my list, so I'll only have 19 more to go. And I'm definitely looking forward to being with you and your true love at some of them!

I'll have to think of something special for the final one. Maybe I'll save "Wicked" for last - if I can hold out that long. Somehow, I think it would be fitting.

Sarah B. Roberts said...

Oh just see POTO. Get it overwith. At least do it before Wicked so you can what see a real theatrical spectacle is supposed to look like.

Esther said...

Someday I'll make the all-tour Broadway trip of musicals that I've seen elsewhere: "Wicked," "Hairspray," "A Chorus Line," "Spamalot." (Oh scratch the last one. I don't really want to see "Spamalot" again!) Unfortunately, I missed "Les Miserables." I'll have to be content with my memories of seeing it in Syracuse many, many years ago. And you're right, I should just see POTO and get it over with!

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Sarah does make a great point. If you've never seen Phantom, I would still recommend taking it in.

Roxie said...

Happy 1 year anniversary! That's exciting. And great run-down of the stage door routine - I can still remember my first visit (I was so nervous!). I was lucky to have a stage door vet with me to help me out. And do go see POTO just for the experience of it all (my first Broadway show!) :)

Esther said...

Thanks for the comment Roxie! I know how you felt, I was pretty nervous the first time I went to the stage door, thinking about what I wanted to say to Kevin Spacey, knowing I wouldn't have much time. He came and went really quickly. I think he was on "Regis and Kelly" the next morning. But I did get my autograph and tell him that "Moon" was my first-ever Broadway play.

And yes, Steve, Sarah and Roxie, I will see "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway someday. There are just so many other shows to see, and I know POTO will always be there!