Stagedooring: A Broadway sport

Before You Head Out to the Theater Tonight…

…make sure you’re armed with all the information in this lens! Stagedooring: A Broadway sport will tell you everything you need to know about stagedooring. Here, you’ll know exactly what you need to bring, what strategy to employ, and when to give up. Stagedooring can be a little difficult for those who have no experience in it, but over time and with a little practice and a LOT of determination, you’ll be rounding up all those celebrity photographs and autographs in no time. Read on and enjoy!

What is stagedooring anyway?

Simply put, it is an activity that takes place after a Broadway performance, entailing a mad rush towards the stage door, Playbill, Sharpie, and camera in hand, in hopes of getting your favorite performers to sign your Playbill, telling them you adored their show, and having your photograph taken with them.

Why should I stagedoor?

The question is, why shouldn’t you? Stagedooring is a fun and exciting experience that ultimately lets you get close to some of Broadway’s most brilliant and famous performers. It’s your chance to get a photograph with them and get their signature, too, and you can breathlessly tell your friends the next day that, “Oh my god, I shook hands with (name of performer) and he talked to me!” Stagedooring is one of the highlights of watching a Broadway play or musical, and you should take advantage of the opportunity to do so.

The tools you need in stagedooring

In order to have a successful stagedooring experience, you must have the correct tools at hand. These are:

  • Your Playbill, of course
  • A Sharpie or a pen. Performers usually come out with their own Sharpies, but it’s always best to be prepared.
  • A Ziploc bag to protect your Playbill after it’s been signed. Very helpful in the event of inclement weather.
  • A friend who will go with you and take pictures. It’s challenging to stagedoor on your own, so a wingman will be a great help. You can be each other’s wingman if your friend is a Broadway fanatic as well.

Before the show

If you get to the venue early enough, make it a point to scope out the scene and find out where the stage door is. That way, you know exactly where you should be heading after the performance and you won’t need to stumble around looking for it. At best, you can angle for the most amazing spot by the door (read: the very front!) and not just have to stand on your toes trying to see performers amid the sea of fans and lift your camera hoping to get a good shot of them.

Don’t get tongue-tied and starstruck!

It can be a trifle bit embarrassing if your Broadway idol is standing right in front of you and you simply have no idea what to say or don’t want to sound too adoring or stupid. There are a few standard things you can say, such as

1. “You were amazing!”
2. “Great job!”
3. “It was a great show!”

But rely on those as your fallback lines if you’re really stumped and could barely manage a coherent squeak. In your extremely brief chat at the stage door, remember to always be sincere. Mention that you loved the person’s performance in that show and that you also admired him or her in other productions. You can also tell him or her which part of the show you loved the best. After he or she has signed your Playbill and had photos taken with you, remember to thank the performer politely.

Photograph protocol

It can be oh-so-tempting to whip your camera out and click away furiously upon sighting the performers you’ve been aching to see, but get a grip on yourself! A few photographs of them as they exit the stage door is fine, but don’t get crazy with your camera when they’re standing right in front of you–no one likes a madly clicking camera in his or her face, let alone bright, blinding flash. When the performer has finally reached your spot in the queue, ask politely if you can take his or her picture, then when he or she agrees, take a couple of solo pictures, then one with you in the photo as well. Don’t hog the performer’s attention by asking for a dozen shots! That would not only take up a lot of his or her time, but this will also annoy your fellow fans who want their precious few seconds with the performer as well.

How do you deal with snooty performers?

Broadway performers are usually very gracious about signing autographs, chatting with fans, and posing for photographs, but there is a precious few who will nod curtly to the waiting fans or ignore them entirely and briskly walk away. What should you do in that situation?

Simple: Nothing. It’s no use chasing after them; the person guarding each stage door will make it a point to follow you and stop you from doing so. Forget about jeering at them and calling them names–that’s not likely to encourage them to turn back and pose for pictures with you.

Instead, just leave them alone. Many of them are exhausted after a grueling performance, and you’d be surprised that Broadway performers usually tend to be quiet, private people. Just be glad that you were able to watch them perform.

Now for the REALLY snooty and obnoxious ones, you can have your dark little revenge on them by writing about their behavior in your blog or on Broadway-related message boards. Like-minded fans will understand your outrage, and some may even share their own unpleasant experience with those particular performers.

Stage doors you probably should avoid

As much as possible, you should stagedoor as much as you like and accumulate as many photographs and autographs as you can, enough to make you insensible with joy. But sometimes, there are stage doors that are just a little too challenging, even for seasoned stagedooring practitioners. Based on my experience, Equus was particularly hellish. Many people had left the theater before the play even ended, which meant that there was already an almighty queue at the stage door, effectively destroying any chance of me making my way to the door and getting photos of Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths.

From that experience alone, I’ve determined that stagedooring is darn near impossible for shows featuring extremely well known personalities, specifically Hollywood celebrities. There will almost certainly be a mad rush in that case; getting a few blurry shots of Hugh Jackman on his The Boy from Oz stint is already considered fairly lucky.

In 2009, I got the chance to watch A Steady Rain featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. Predictably, the throng of people waiting by the stage door was, simply put, insane, but by some twist of fortune, I managed to get myself at the very front of the line. I had hoped to take some amazing photos of the two, but the press of people just made a lot of my photos wobbly, though I did get a few great ones, like the one you see here. Ultimately, stagedooring is not just about getting incredible photos and their signatures, but also about showing your respect and admiration for the performers.

Add Comment