Jump to content
Jan McNulty

Do you go to the Stage Door?

Recommended Posts

There's been some comments on the RB thread about going to the stage door.  I thought it might be worthy of a topic on its own.

 

Just to start us off:

 

 

I don't make a habit of going to the stage door but have been occasionally.

 

My first (nearly) stage door experience was when the Bolshoi was at the Manchester Palace Theatre in 1986.  If anyone knows the Palace Theatre, it's not particularly close to anything and there was even less there in those days.  My friend and I were lurking on the pavement waiting for another friend after the matinee.  I have subsequently discovered that the stage door is down a covered alleyway that has a security gate.

 

We were lurking near the security gate when suddenly a group of yelping girls appeared at the same time as Irek Mukhamedov and Yuri Vasyushekno.  No-one except us recognised Irek so we walked over to him and he signed our cast sheets.  I've got to admit that we did feel a bit foolish.

 

The first time we went to a stage door to see a dancer was when we had seen a wonderful performance of Northern Ballet's Hunchback of Notre Dame in Sheffield.  An Australian dancer, Graham Fletcher, had been cast as Frollo and, if I am honest we just could not see him in the role.  Well it shows how wrong you can be - he was utterly magnificent!  A group of about 8 of us went round to the stage door and stood in the reception.  As he came down the stairs we burst into spontaneous applause and he looked genuinely chuffed.

 

A couple of us waited for Michela Paolacci after her debut as Giselle in 2011.  I had been totally overwhelmed by her performance.

 

And then in October last year we waited to see Alex Campbell after his debut as Basilio.  He seemed genuinely chuffed that a number of the Birmingham gang had gone specially to see him perform.

 

Well they are my stage door experiences....

 

Over to you...

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got Lonnie Donegan's autograph at the Glasgow Empire circa 1957 and that's it!

 

Now for the serious contributions ......

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

never been to the stage door just never had the nerve to ask any one my only time i met any one or should i say 2 times was

 

Anna Tsygankova & Matthew Golding came upto me as i was looking at a copy of don q during a show at roh was a bag of nerves so missed on getting it signed :(

& one time i sat on the tube & carlos acosta was on the other side to me

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw the Bolshoi at the Palace that season Janet McNulty. I did not go anywhere near the stage door though.

 

I don't really like to meet a dancer or for that matter actor, singer or other performer after a show because it somehow breaks the spell.  And indeed they have lives to lead and sometimes husbands or wives and kids waiting for them at home and they are entitled to be left alone.  If I recognized a performer in Waitrose I hope I would have the self-control to let him or her carry on with his or her shopping.

 

The only time I have ever met dancers after a show was when I was a student at St Andrews.  John Steer, our professor of fine arts, was closely connected to Western Theatre Ballet when he had taught at Bristol. A year after he joined us WTB came to Glasgow.  One day in 1970 WTB (which I think had changed its name to Scottish Theatre Ballet by that time) visited the Whitehall Theatre in Dundee.  There were not many in the audience and Professor Steer saw me.   As I was leaving the theatre he collared me, asked me if I had a car (which I did) and if so whether I would take Kenn Wells, Ashley Killar and one of the women dancers to their lodgings which I did. They were exhausted poor things and apart from acknowledging my probably over gushing praise we passed the rest of the journey in silence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guilty.  I have often gone to the doors and am so lucky to have met lots of dancers from lots of companies and loved every minute of it and I think they like to get a pat on the back for a performance well done.  I still have not found where the majority of dancers leave the Deutsche Oper in Berlin where I am heading tomorrow though!!!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup and a few times but more as a chaperone for my adoring teen.

First time was a few years ago when the Mariinski came to Toronto. Dd got to meet and get an autograph of Uliana Lopatkina who had danced Swan lake.

And more recently, was this past summer in London at ROH for the Bolshois summer series.

First was Alina Seminova (who was tired and demure) after La Bayadere.

And then the wait for Svetlana Zakhorova. That was a story! Dd was first in line and many people crowded the back door. David Halberg came and signed and had photos taken and stated that he was not sure Svetlana would make an appearance. After 1.5 hours, the crowd had dwindled and it was down to a few diehards, my dd and some recently made new friends (all ballet students).

We got the best photos as well as the required autographs. I thought the wait was a bit much but the kids were having fun :)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember waiting for Makarova to come out of the coliseum once in the 80s. She was such the diva (in the best sense of the word) it was like seeing an extension of the performance.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just remembered another one. I once gave flowers to Ulanova when the Bolshoi were preforming at The Birmingham Hippodrome, again in the 80s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have gone once to the ROH Stage Door to meet Sylvie Guillem. I waited 45 min. She was very nice and communicative, took her time to meet all her fans.

I hesitate going as I realise the dancers must be so tired after a performance and longing to go home as fast as possible ! but I can well imagine they must be happy to get compliments after a show :) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They are probably recognised or asked for autographs so rarely in their daily lives it is probably a bit of a thrill when it happens. I can imagine it's slightly more annoying for people like Brad Pitt or Prince William etc

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've taken dd to the stage door a couple of times when we've been to see musicals.

 

When she was in panto it was always sweet when the people waiting for the main star asked the juveniles for autographs too.

 

Someone I know had a child in a show with Jason Donovan. It's a show where the child steals the show at the end so he had lots of autograph request from the Jason fans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I recognized a performer in Waitrose I hope I would have the self-control to let him or her carry on with his or her shopping.

 

I did :).  Well, actually, it was M&S, and the dancer in question was looking at the "Dine in for £10" offer.  I did wonder if I should go over and point out that the fish dish which was obviously missing from the shelves was actually available in the fresh fish section, but didn't :)

 

Apart from that, I rarely go to the stage door.  Used to pass it on the way to work sometimes, but that's a different story.  On the odd occasions I have hung around outside, it's usually been to chat to someone I know, because the dancers tend to take so long to come out that I'd miss several trains if I waited for them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know I think there have to be some boundaries between us and the dancers for our sakes as well as theirs.

 

My mother often talked of the time she was taken to see Pavlova dance in Leeds. Pavlova was magical on stage.  Afterwards my mother glimpsed her as she left the theatre - a tired, very ordinary looking woman who no doubt wanted nothing more than to get to her hotel.

 

Dancers are people like everybody else and they are entitled to privacy.  Yes they thrive on public adulation but we can give them that with our clapping and cheers when they take their curtain calls instead of darting off to the cloakroom or tube as soon as the curtain falls to avoid the crush.

 

If one wants to meet dancers there are plenty of opportunities to do so where they are prepared to meet their public. Lots of theatres and companies have friends' groups which organize events where one can talk to dancers or choreographers about their work and sometimes even shake hands with them. So, too, do organizations like the London Ballet Circle which holds lectures at the Civil Circle Club that are open to the public with speakers like Tamara Rojo and Peter Wright. I'm making a special journey to London to see Elena Glurdjidze on the 10 because she is dancing in Stockport on the 16 Feb to raise funds for Reuben's Retreat. If you want to know what that's about (and it is a very good cause) you will have to Google it because I'm no longer allowed to give you the hypertext link.

 

In my work I am consulted occasionally by sports or showbiz personalities.  Usually their instructions come through agents or managers but on the rare occasions that I might meet one of them I keep proper professional detachment even if I happen to be their biggest fan which once happened when I met one of my childhood heroes as cricket is another of my passions. 

 

And that brings me back to another modern tendency that I deprecate, that of referring to ballerinas or premiers danseurs nobles whom one does not know and  has no immediate prospect of meeting by their first names.  We don't refer to Pavlova, Fonteyn or Nijinksy as "Anna", "Margot" or "Vaslav" and they would have hated it so why do we refer to their successors as "Carlos" or "Tamara"?  If we do meet a star at a party or wedding then it is fine to call or refer to them to other guests by their first name while at the party or function but to do so afterwards is name dropping,

Edited by terpsichore
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my personal experience I used to go the the stage door quite a bit after shows and have been fortunate to meet many wonderful dancers who have always been kind enough to have a quick word or sign an autograph. Now I don't go quite so often as my circumstances have changed but sometimes after specific shows.

 

If a dancer didn't want to see anyone after the show, specifically at the ROH, then they can always leave via another exit - there are loads ;)

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 I'm making a special journey to London to see Elena Glurdjidze on the 10 because she is dancing in Stockport on the 16 Feb to raise funds for Reuben's Retreat. If you want to know what that's about (and it is a very good cause) you will have to Google it because I'm no longer allowed to give you the hypertext link.

 

 

 

Here's the link to the  Reuben's Retreat dance event

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Terpsichore, I agree that dancers are private individuals like everyone else but they do work in a profession where they are in the eye of the public and, I think, with that goes a degree of expectation that some of their public may wish to meet them to appreciate their performance. 

 

As Shirley says most theatres (and especially the ROH) have alternative exits if they do not want to be stopped or they can be polite and just say they have not got time to stop without causing offence.

 

Some years ago (well it must have been some years ago, Liverpool had just won something!), Liverpool FC had an open top bus ride around Liverpool on a Sunday afternoon.  I had taken my nieces for our customary cinema visit followed by a sit-down in Macdonalds.  As we were coming out and walking back to our car we were suddenly aware of a black Range Rover at the collection window of the drive-through with about 30 youngsters running towards it.  The passenger window wound down and Steven Gerrard was in the vehicle.  I am sure the other vehicles in the queue and the staff trying to get takeaways together did not mind that he signed an autograph for everyone who wanted one.  He did not need to do that, he could have just made excuses and gone but he didn't. 

 

I think respect is two-way and even though I rarely go to the stage door it is nice to know that dancers do acknowledge their fans when they have time.

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know I think there have to be some boundaries between us and the dancers for our sakes as well as theirs.

 

My mother often talked of the time she was taken to see Pavlova dance in Leeds. Pavlova was magical on stage.  Afterwards my mother glimpsed her as she left the theatre - a tired, very ordinary looking woman who no doubt wanted nothing more than to get to her hotel.

 

Dancers are people like everybody else and they are entitled to privacy.  Yes they thrive on public adulation but we can give them that with our clapping and cheers when they take their curtain calls instead of darting off to the cloakroom or tube as soon as the curtain falls to avoid the crush.

 

If one wants to meet dancers there are plenty of opportunities to do so where they are prepared to meet their public. Lots of theatres and companies have friends' groups which organize events where one can talk to dancers or choreographers about their work and sometimes even shake hands with them. So, too, do organizations like the London Ballet Circle which holds lectures at the Civil Circle Club that are open to the public with speakers like Tamara Rojo and Peter Wright. I'm making a special journey to London to see Elena Glurdjidze on the 10 because she is dancing in Stockport on the 16 Feb to raise funds for Reuben's Retreat. If you want to know what that's about (and it is a very good cause) you will have to Google it because I'm no longer allowed to give you the hypertext link.

 

In my work I am consulted occasionally by sports or showbiz personalities.  Usually their instructions come through agents or managers but on the rare occasions that I might meet one of them I keep proper professional detachment even if I happen to be their biggest fan which once happened when I met one of my childhood heroes as cricket is another of my passions. 

 

And that brings me back to another modern tendency that I deprecate, that of referring to ballerinas or premiers danseurs nobles whom one does not know and  has no immediate prospect of meeting by their first names.  We don't refer to Pavlova, Fonteyn or Nijinksy as "Anna", "Margot" or "Vaslav" and they would have hated it so why do we refer to their successors as "Carlos" or "Tamara"?  If we do meet a star at a party or wedding then it is fine to call or refer to them to other guests by their first name while at the party or function but to do so afterwards is name dropping,

 

I don't think it is unreasonable to wait for someone at the stage door at all, and I don't think dancers would be justified in complaining about it. They have a public job and the stage door is technically still part of their workplace. They must expect it. Obviously it would be different if people were following them home.

 

And I think people refer to dancers by their first name because they can't be bothered to write or use the, usually longer, surname. Pavlova, Fonteyn or Nijinksy may have found it rude or insulting, but it's a different time now and i'd be surprised if anyone cares.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only done this once, because my son insisted, after a Rojo/Bonelli Sleeping Beauty matinee. We waited for quite a long time but had to leave because we had something else booked, I now regret that because he was very disappointed, and with hindsight I should either have refused to go at all or not had anything else planned. Others have told me that Tamara Rojo is very nice to fans who wait for her which is always good to know.

 

I once saw Roberto Bolle at the Covent Garden Market but left him alone. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How funny that this thread should crop up now, just a couple of days after I went to the Stage Door for the very first time!

 

So, on Wednesday I had the considerable privilege of attending the wonderful Osipova/Acosta Giselle. After the performance (indeed, after all the well deserved curtain calls ;-) - btw, what does anybody have to do to get a standing ovation at the ROH?!?) I decided to wander round the corner and check out the Stage Door. In the days running up to the show, I had been talking myself into doing this: "... Giselle's quite short ..."; "... it'll be finished by 10pm and I'll still be able to make my train ..."; "... it's Osipova AND Acosta!".

 

Anyway, the time came and I was half expecting that there would be a huge crowd gathered outside the door and I would say to myself: "oh well. that's far too busy" and then walk on by and off to Victoria. Besides, wouldn't it be embarrassing to actually meet them? what would I say? etc. etc. So, I was quite surprised when I got there and found about half a dozen or so people waiting just inside the door. No excuses then, in I go. I stand in the corner and start idly reading through the programme, wondering how long I would actually be prepared to wait. A steady stream of people are leaving the ROH and it becomes apparent that some of the people are just waiting for friends/family members - oh no, I think; am I the only person waiting for an autograph?!? I glance around the room and notice a few people clutching programmes and, more importantly, pens. phew! not the only one then; that would be mortifying.

 

After about 30 minutes of waiting Mr. Acosta appears and is quickly surrounded - by this time there must have been about 15 or so people waiting. He seems quite happy to sign programmes and pose for photographs though maybe a little non-plussed. Very shortly afterwards, Miss Osipova appears; she is showered in compliments and seems almost embarrassed to be receiving so much praise. Again, she was very happy to sign things and pose for photographs. What struck me was just how humble they both were; they just seemed to be genuinely nice people. There is no "magic"; these are ordinary people who do extraordinary things. In my mind, that justs elevates them further and certainly doesn't diminish the performance.

 

So, for me, it just capped off a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Would I do it again? Well, maybe. It would be good to get a sense of what the dancers really think about it all though ...

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm surprised to hear that only about 15 people waited for Acosta and Osipova on Wednesday night. I would have assumed that they would be mobbed by dozens of fans, which would put me off trying to see them (mind you, I wouldn't like to be the only one either). It's interesting that the 'waiting time' varies so much. I would wait for half an hour but not for an hour and a half. Btw, does anyone know where the stage door at the Royal Albert Hall is?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Simply Red's Mick Hucknel I met at the stage door quite by accident.  I was with a friend waiting for the rest of our party at a venue in Germany.  He actually heard the English voices and came over to us for a chat.  Ballet - the dancers of Ballet Cymru - at the local theatre the dancers come out through the entrance foyer and one of their parents had spotted my DDs as the youngest members of the audience and on learning that they danced asked us to wait with her.  My elder DD actually an elderly  American ex-dancer wait for her at the stage door after a local ballet school show a few years ago, a complete stranger who wanted to compliment my DD and ask about her training.  That was really nice for her.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes and no.  Back in the Fonteyn/Nureyev days I always went to the stage door probably to prolong the magic of the evening somehow, nowadays I don't unless I'm waiting for a dancer friend usually before heading for a pub (sorry you teetotallers).

 

Two exceptions were in Paris first to wait for Laetitia Pujol after a performance of Sylvia. I had seen neither the ballet nor the dancer in a leading role before and was so impressed I went round to the Bastille stage door and asked her to sign my programme.   For the record she was charming, seemed genuinely happy that I had enjoyed her dancing so much and spoke very good English.  The second time was after Emmanuel Thibault danced his first leading role and I joined a massive throng, He conversed with everyone and was staggered at the number of UK fans that had crossed the Channel for the afternoon.

 

I am useless at spotting celebrities; I used to work in Knightsbridge and many times when I went out with my colleague at lunch she would nudge me and say 'that's so and so' and I would not have noticed them at all.  I suppose seeing a TV star or the like out of context  means I fail to recognize them at all.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

- btw, what does anybody have to do to get a standing ovation at the ROH?!?) 

 

I have seen only one standing ovation at the House and that was a gala for Sir Fred Ashton the day he retired as principal choreographer. All the principals of the Royal Ballet were there: Fonteyn, Sibley, Nureyev, Dowell and of source Sir Robert Helpmann. That was a memorable performance that started at 07:00 and carried on well after the tubes stopped running.

 

I had to wait over 40 years for another one and that was at West Yorkshire Playhouse last September after a really remarkable performance of Midsummer Night's Dream. I think the Northern Ballet supporters' club (of which Janet McNulty and I are fully paid up members) were in the theatre at the time because we clapped and cheered out little hearts out.  On that occasion about half the audience got to their feet but everyone clapped or cheered like never before.

 

The only other occasion when everybody got up was last November in the Stadsshouwburg in Amsterdam when the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet started their season. That was another emotional evening and the ovation was not just for the company - though they richly deserved it - but for Hans van Manen who came on to the stage to take a bow.  That company is coming to London in May and there are lots of threads about them all over this website. If there are still tickets left do yourself a favour and buy one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How interesting to hear of these experiences. I have only twice gone to the stage door, once after the closing performance in 2010 of the Bolshoi Don Q. Osipova and Vasiliev were dancing. I thought that there had been a standing ovation then. There was quite a crowd but we managed to get into the lobby before the minders shut the door! Osipova and Vasiliev were very charming even though they were tired.

 

I went again after the RB Nutcracker on 4 Jan and got a number of dancers' autographs. They were all gracious and charming and posed for photos if asked. I wished them a happy new year and thanked them for the performance and the Cinema transmission.

 

I would definitely go again. I regret not having the time on 22 Jan but I had to run to catch my train!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a photo of that wonderful gala for Ashton on the Royal Opera House's flickr stream with a date 24 July 1970 which began at 19:00 not 07:00 by the way. I was in the upper slips.   Judging by the paucity of cut flowers on stage I think this must have been the first curtain call.  The stage was knee deep by the end.  I was in the upper slips so had a good view of at least part of the stage.

Edited by terpsichore

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And that brings me back to another modern tendency that I deprecate, that of referring to ballerinas or premiers danseurs nobles whom one does not know and  has no immediate prospect of meeting by their first names.  We don't refer to Pavlova, Fonteyn or Nijinksy as "Anna", "Margot" or "Vaslav" and they would have hated it so why do we refer to their successors as "Carlos" or "Tamara"?  If we do meet a star at a party or wedding then it is fine to call or refer to them to other guests by their first name while at the party or function but to do so afterwards is name dropping,

 

And I think people refer to dancers by their first name because they can't be bothered to write or use the, usually longer, surname. Pavlova, Fonteyn or Nijinksy may have found it rude or insulting, but it's a different time now and i'd be surprised if anyone cares.

 

Well, I think Terpsichore has a point.  It does create a "them and us" sort of feeling, and quite frankly if I go on Ballet Alert! or a board from another country where I'm not so familiar with the dancers I spent quite a bit of time working out who "Sarah", say, is, which is disconcerting.  Fine if you've already made it clear who you're talking about, but not so good otherwise.  I tend to go for surnames on more "formal" occasions, but use first names if others in the thread have already been doing so.

 

If a dancer didn't want to see anyone after the show, specifically at the ROH, then they can always leave via another exit - there are loads ;)

 

Very true.

 

 

(indeed, after all the well deserved curtain calls ;-) - btw, what does anybody have to do to get a standing ovation at the ROH?!?)

 

Mayerling April 19th 2013?  I think that got one? (partial, of course - I don't think I've ever seen the whole House on its feet).  Or June 13th?  I know there were people standing for that one, but I was so close to the stage and nobody else was standing in my block, and I'd have felt really conspicuous if I'd stood. 

 

Btw, does anyone know where the stage door at the Royal Albert Hall is?

 

Round about Door 2, I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it is unreasonable to wait for someone at the stage door at all, and I don't think dancers would be justified in complaining about it. They have a public job and the stage door is technically still part of their workplace. They must expect it. Obviously it would be different if people were following them home.

 

And I think people refer to dancers by their first name because they can't be bothered to write or use the, usually longer, surname. Pavlova, Fonteyn or Nijinksy may have found it rude or insulting, but it's a different time now and i'd be surprised if anyone cares.

I quite agree with you. It is or should be a nice way to get feedback and round off a good evening. An actor friend of mine used to say it was terribly disappointing  to sometimes find nobody 'out there' after all the applause. But if the dancers or actors don't want to meet the public, as has been said, there are other ways to leave the building.

I think as you say, referring to people by their first name is simply a sign of the times. We are far less formal nowadays which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the knack is knowing when some formality is required. I for one, wouldn't dream of stopping someone in the street for an autograph or a chat about their latest artistic offering. 

Even in this day and age where it seems that nothing is too private to be discussed in public, there are limits. Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who don't see why there should be any boundaries and these people give us all a bad name.

 As for following people, I am reminded of an unfortunate incident many years ago when I lived in Sussex. My mother and I used to go to the Theatre Royal in Brighton quite often. One year there was a series of plays put on by an excellent touring company headed by Sir Anthony Quayle. One of the actresses was a favourite of mine and my mother was a keen stage door goer. So after the performance, round we went. 

We waited a little while and the lady in question appeared. There was the usual signing and bit of chitchat. Then off she went. And off we went, in the same direction. At the end of the street, she turned left and so did we. She walked on and so did we. We just happened to be going in the same direction. This went on for several minutes. We tried to drop back a bit but the gap didn't seem to get any bigger. Brighton is very hilly and we were getting quite breathless! Finally she ducked into the multi story car park, by which time she seemed to be trying to run. But there was no escape as we all made our way to level 3, where we found our respective cars parked about three spaces apart!

Edited by Jacqueline
  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally she ducked into the multi story car park, by which time she seemed to be trying to run. But there was no escape as we all made our way to level 3, where we found our respective cars parked about three spaces apart!

 

This made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing, Jacqueline.

 

IIRC Osipova's Giselle with the Bolshoi in 2010 got a partial standing ovation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×