Sunday, October 16, 2011

The After-Show

At the end of any Broadway show, I usually try to get out of the theater district as quickly as possible. But the other night, I was determined to wait around outside for the cast members to make their grand exits, no matter how long it took.

First, Samuel L. Jackson strutted out into the night, smirking and snatching playbills out of the outstretched hands. After I snatched mine back (and he didn’t acknowledge my “thank you”), I kind of forgot about him, as I began texting people and thinking about the apple-picking I was going to be doing out in the country the next day.

A few minutes later, someone yelled out: “When are you doing your next movie?”

“Around January 15th,” Jackson said.

“What’s it called?”

“Around January 15th,” he said, still snatching and smirking.

What was he still doing there? I had assumed he and his driver had already sped off to see if the Kangol cap store was still open. The SUV he had yet to get into was blocking Angela Bassett’s, and she’s the one I was really waiting for.

When Bassett came out, there was no strutting or smirking. She looked me in the eye and warmly smiled when she took my playbill and when she handed it back, as we small-talked. Not too long after she moved a bit farther down the barricaded line, she suddenly turned back and studied me, as if there was a lot more we had to discuss.

There was.

If those other groupies hadn’t been distracting us, we could have exchanged contact info and she could have helped me land a new job - as her bodyguard. The little guy in charge of protecting her looked like he needed some physical-safety protection himself. I doubt I’d have that hard of a time picking him up and doing 5 reps of bicep curls. She needs fearless ferocity, not frailty - someone who’s not afraid to start slapping people who say or do something too stupid, the way my family’s cat used to bitch-slap the dog when he came too close to her for comfort.

Nothing that happens on stage is ever as interesting as what goes on off stage.

5 comments:

  1. You would make a wonderful bodyguard for Angela...she missed out on that one!

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  2. The book first, then you can do whatever it is you please. Glad you had the experience to meet these actors.

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  3. "Stagedooring" can be hit or miss. In my experience, for the most part, it's been a pleasant experience to meet and greet actors after their appearances onstage mobs and crowds by the stagedoor notwithstanding.

    One of my favorite moments was meeting Audra McDonald years ago after a performance of "Marie Christine" at Lincoln Center. I'd already been a fan since I first saw her in 1994 in "Carousel." She was so down to earth, funny and appreciative of the fact that I and a few other friends waited around for her, as she had been held up inside the theatre speaking to a group of students post-performance, before she left The Vivian Beaumont. I love that woman.

    Cheyenne Jackson was someone I met in 2004 before he became a major leading man on Broadway and he was a sweetheart in every sense of the word.

    Last year, I was able to go backstage at Studio 54 after a performance of "Sondheim on Sondheim." After my visit, right outside the door stood Ms. Barbara Cook, who is, in my view, bona fide American theatre royalty as she originated iconic leading lady roles in "Candide," "She Loves Me" and "The Music Man." I was positively trembling as I approached her and told her how excited I was to have finally seen her perform on a Broadway stage. She just looked at me, smiled and was so kind and receptive that her humility blew me away. I did the fan thing, got her autograph and a picture with her as well. It was amazing. Most Broadway actors are very approachable compared to "movie stars," I've found. Your encounter with Ms. Bassett speaks volumes about who she is both as a performer and a person. I'm so happy you had your moment with her!

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  4. A true New York moment. Am so glad to have seen this gem of a performance myself. Considering that Bassett stole the show I am not surprised that she exuded warmth and class.

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  5. Angela Bassett sounds like a wonderful person. I'm so glad for you that you had this opportunity to meet her. I hope you have another opportunity to talk with her.

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