BWW Blog: The Privilege of Stage Dooring
What is stage dooring? How do you stage door at a show? How should you behave at the stage door? These were questions I was thinking about as I visited New York this past weekend to see a few shows. I had the absolute privilege to see the Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors, Aladdin, and Betrayal. Almost every single show I've ever seen on Broadway or Off-Broadway I've tried to stage door at. Stage dooring is when you wait outside after a show and the cast is kind enough to come outside and sign autographs and take pictures with fans. Stage dooring is a privilege, not a guarantee. As an avid theatre goer, stage dooring is usually a great experience and a treat to get to tell the cast that you appreciated their performance and you get to tell some of your favorite actors how much you love them and their work, however it is not a meet and greet. When you buy a ticket to a show, that doesn't mean you will be guaranteed a chance to meet the actors. When actors stage door, they are kind enough to meet with their fans and genuinely enjoy the experience because in the end they are doing it for the audience. However, there are many actors, especially those that are huge celebrities, that don't always feel comfortable coming out to stage door because of the attention and the behavior of the crowd.
Most of my experiences at stage door have been amazing, but there have been a few times I was appalled at the behavior of some of the crowd. One example of this was in 2017 when Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco stage doored at Kinky Boots. I had never seen a larger crowd at a stage door before and most of the fans were shoving against other people. There was a large percentage of fans that were kind and considerate, but as always, there was a portion that wasn't. Due to the behavior of some of the crowd, Brendon Urie decided not to come out to stage door anymore after a while, which was absolutely the right decision in that circumstance. He has always loved his fans, but the shoving and yelling were getting to be too much and could've ended very badly one night.
I will compare the two shows I stage doored this past trip, which were Little Shop of Horrors and Betrayal. Little Shop of Horrors is Off-Broadway and is in The Westside Theatre, which only houses two-hundred and seventy people. This meant that the stage door didn't have that big of a crowd and was very pleasant. Each actor would come out one at a time and would gladly take as many pictures and sign as many autographs as they were asked. Meeting Christian Borle, who is my favorite Broadway performer, Jonathan Groff, and the rest of the cast was a special treat that wouldn't have happened without this privilege of stage dooring. Everyone was extremely respectful and were kind to the actors and the show was one of the best I've ever seen.
Now, the next day I got to see Betrayal on Broadway. Betrayal stars Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Cox, and Zawe Ashton at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. I knew since these were three huge stars that stage dooring would be difficult and might not be the best experience. I was surprised the actors even came out to stage door every night because of their status, but I'm grateful they do. I knew, however, that I really wanted to stage door because I love all three of the actors and their work, especially Tom Hiddleston. As soon as I left the theater the crowd was already lined up down the street, but I took my place and patiently waited for the actors to come outside. Surprisingly, most people were respectful and there really wasn't any pushing until Tom Hiddleston came out. Everyone was super kind and helped each other pass up their playbills to get signed. This is one of my favorite parts of stagedooring, because I appreciate when the crowd works together in this way and it makes me even more proud of the theatre community. All the actors came out and signed and took pictures with as many people as possible. Usually when you stage door a show you can tell how happy and appreciative the actors are that so many people are there to share their love for their performance and their work and this was no exception.
I've met many different people at stage doors over the years and no matter what their status is, they've always been extremely nice to their fans and very patient with the process. Sometimes, however, they need to put their safety and the crowd's safety above anything else. Most of the time, the people you are around at the stage door are respectful of the actors but there are also those that want to shove and try to cut through people to get as close as possible. There are also people who will get very angry that a certain actor won't come out and rant and rave to those around them about it. This behavior is like that of people during the shows themselves. Please act respectfully during a show and at stage door if you plan on trying to meet some of the actors. There have been so many times during shows that people were on their phones, talking, putting their feet up on the banister, and even masturbating at shows (which apparently happened at one show of Betrayal a few weeks ago), that is frankly not acceptable behavior in the slightest. There is so much that goes into putting on a show, from the actors to the writers to the ushers, that they deserve a least a little ounce of respect, whether that be inside the theater or outside of it.
Returning to the prospect of stage dooring, if you want to be a part of it please just be courteous to the cast and those around you. Stage dooring is an exciting and thrilling experience and it is one of the greatest honors to get to meet your favorite actors and tell them how much they mean to you, but it again, it isn't a guarantee. Don't try to shove your way to the front or try to skip out of a show early to get at the head of the line. Don't scream at the cast or try to kiss them or anything else inappropriate. The actors are happy to meet their fans but don't try to force yourself upon them and you will have an amazing experience. This is one of the many reasons that theatre is so very special, and it is a huge honor to get to have this extra treat after shows.