As I write this, I’m getting ready for my family’s annual trip to New York City, where we cram every Broadway show we can into under a week. And for us, with Broadway shows comes stage door lurking: the fun, slightly stressful, always rewarding hobby of waiting outside theater doors after a show to meet the actors and get their autographs. To date, I have two large binders filled with over 50 signed Playbills from Broadway shows, and I hope to keep my collection growing! But stage door lurking doesn’t just apply to Broadway—you can do it at any theater, anywhere. It’s incredibly fun and leaves you with memories and a memento you’ll treasure forever. If you plan on seeing a show soon, here are eight important things I've discovered for you to keep in mind.
Meeting Jeremy Jordan after his performance at 54 Below is one of my happiest memories.
1. Stand up against the barrier, if you can, but don’t shove.
This is pretty obvious—the closer you are to the barrier, the easier it is to interact with the actors. But no one appreciates those who wedge themselves into a nonexistent space without so much as a “please” or “sorry”. If standing at the barrier isn’t possible, see where the barrier ends and wait there, if you’re allowed, or simply stand in the next row of people.
2. It’s your fan-ly duty to help those behind you get signatures.
If there’s a bit of space between you and those on either side of you, someone may ask if they can squeeze in. We’re all here for the same reason: we love theatre! If it’s at all possible, at least scoot over, or offer to scoot over when the actor they’re waiting for comes by. If there are people behind you trying to reach, pass their Playbill forward, and back to them after it’s signed. I’ve been on both sides of this interaction, and when you’re waiting as long as two hours for an actor to come out, the environment is so much friendlier if we all help each other so no one goes home disappointed.
Christian Borle signing after "Something Rotten!"
3. Remember that the actors are people!
This is even more obvious than my first tip, but I see way too many people shouting names repeatedly and shoving themselves at actors who are taking photos with fans. It’s incredibly kind that the actors are doing this at all—they don’t owe you anything, so treat them with respect and patience.
4. Engage with all the actors, not just the leads.
Ensemble members in particular tend to leave quickly, assuming those waiting at the barricades are there for the big-name actors and leads. Show them this isn’t the case! Fill up that Playbill with as many names as possible, and show all the cast members how much you appreciate their hard work and talent. They’re often also more likely to spend time talking to you!
5. Have a Sharpie ready.
Especially in the cases of actors like I mentioned above, they won’t have a Sharpie on them if they’re not expecting people to ask for their signatures. Always come prepared.
Tip: you don't necessarily have to go with Playbills and posters! I asked one of my favorite actors, Bryce Pinkham, to sign my "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" sweatshirt.
6. Have a loose bag to put your Playbill in afterwards.
If it’s snowing or raining, having a dry place to put your Playbill, especially when the ink is still damp, is crucial.
7. Look for the stage door before the show.
Always stay to applaud after the show, but still try to get to the barricades quickly so you get a good spot. It’s helpful if you keep an eye out for where the stage door is located as you’re walking in. I have frantically circled most of a block trying to find a door that was on the opposite side of the building. Don’t let that happen to you.
"The Book of Mormon" continues to be my all-time favorite show, and the cast is always amazing!
8. Keep time in mind.
Expect to be at the stage door for about an hour. The actors don’t all come out together, and will take especially long if they have friends or family visiting, which isn’t uncommon. This is important to keep in mind if you have lunch/dinner reservations!
In short, have fun, be prepared, and be kind. After one stage door lurking experience, you'll be hooked!