For the first time ever, I stood outside a stage door tonight and waited for autographs. I have eschewed the chance to wait for Roger Federer, Simon Russell Beale, and countless other people whose work I really do follow. But I'm so enjoying watching this Tale of Two Cities go through its growing pains that I decided to go for it.
It's actually a painless, well set up process. Had I known, I might have tried sooner. I did sort of picture screaming teenagers and insane groupies, which I frankly admitted to the happy high school student standing next to me. People in the line were very amused. Maybe that used to happen for Rent, but it wasn't the case tonight; everyone was very nice and pretty mellow, though there were a couple of people determined to make their opinions heard in great detail.
The cast filtered out in what felt like well-staggered timing, most even equipped with Sharpies; I got just about everyone's autograph and had a nice chat with Gregg Edelman, who plays Dr. Manette. I expressed my sympathy that his opening number had been cut --though I think it's a good cut-- and after the "oh, you've seen it before?" etc., he told me that they're madly resetting and reblocking that opening every day, and his number could well be back in tomorrow. They're still putting in 12-hour days fixing things. I can't imagine the exhaustion. And the sitting around. I had a similar chat with Brandi Burkhardt, who plays Lucie; she remarked that a lot has changed since I saw it, including one big number being cut. I assured her it was a good cut, though we both agreed that we're very sorry for those people.
All in all, the cast was surprisingly happy to chat, and really seemed to enjoy it. Only a couple of actors skipped the line. The crowd is not so big it's a huge burden, and these people don't often get recognized, I'm guessing. So they enjoy the genuine enthusiasm and praise of the crowd while they're still on your stage high, people get autographs, it's all good. They're also weirdly intent on eye contact. Whether that's a technique to make the fan feel special, or something they're genuinely interested in (what does our faceless mass of an audience look like?), I couldn't say.
Last out was James Barbour, charming his way down the line. I told him I was enjoying his blog, and he said, slightly taken aback, "Oh." That made me feel rather stalker-y, so I couldn't open my mouth to tell him that I had commented. I also wish I had talked to Aaron Lazar (Darnay), who seemed very nice. The little kid stars and their parents were standing around chatting happily to people, as well. It ended quickly and quietly, as Barbour was whisked away in a car. That in itself bemused me. I suppose the big star gets car service, but everyone else was trotting off with their backpacks. They could have been heading for the 1/2 for all I know.
More on the show itself tomorrow. In agonizing detail, no doubt. But this was a unique experience. I'm glad I did it.