Lessons from the Stage Door: Politeness

Erin Karll

As a theatre fan I have had the experience of stage dooring after many shows and concerts.  It is not for everyone, but following some of these tips I will discuss can help you have a great time while waiting outside. I will share some of my personal experiences to show you tips of the stage door trade over the next few columns.

My first tip would be to have a positive and polite attitude. I cannot count how many smiles and ‘thank you’ replies I have received for a simple kind word after a show. One time after a concert I was holding my program over the barricade and waiting for an autograph. A tired band member came out and worked his way down the line. I saw autograph hounds, those people who didn’t even see the show but have stacks of photos and other items they want signed.  There were others who ask why he took so long to come out and then complained more because it was so late. I was almost at the very end of the line when he approached. I ask “Can you please sing this program for me? I really enjoyed the show tonight.” Without even looking up he said “sure”.  I added “Thank you so much for the autograph” and was taking the program back when he stopped in his tracks, looked me in the eyes, and said “Thank you for saying thank you!” I was shocked with the look on his face, and how happy my politeness had made him. Now I not only have an autographed program, but I also have this awesome experience to share.

Simple politeness can be an assist to everyone. I have been to many high profile stage doors where there was extra security, even police for crowd control, because of the performers fame. After the recent run of “Romeo and Juliet” on Broadway I waited to see if I could meet Orlando Bloom. There was one officer stationed there who was trying to give everyone the advice I am giving now. Remain calm and polite and he will stay and sign for a while, any rudeness or pushing and he will leave quickly. I listen to the police officer and even chatted with the people around me about how we should stack Playbills when Orlando arrived. After an hour he exited the theatre and the crowd went crazy. People ran from across the street to get a picture.

They had us divided into two sides off of  the door and the other side started to scream because he started with us. Again I was towards the end of the line and I have to admit that some people around me were getting a little over excited. He backed away right before me, so I did the only thing that popped into my head. I shouted over the noise “Thank you for a wonderful show! You were amazing.” He turned and smiled so I then ask him to sign my poster. He did! Then he tried to sign over on the other side. It lasted about 15 seconds before he jumped in his car. That side had not stopped yelling from the second the door opened and, rightly so, he couldn’t risk their safety by standing there for a long period of time.

Too long, didn’t read? Be polite and positive and you may be pleasantly surprised about what you receive at the stage door. Stay tuned for more advice and stories from the stage door.