I have three major rules when it comes to my life and the way I approach going to important events. I try to never get my hopes up, anticipate all possibilities, and brace myself for the worst. I almost always use a coupon. I only ever break my cardinal rule of using a coupon for the very rare and precious of events. This would have to be a once in a lifetime, invaluable experience that I would have to attend no matter the cost- literally. These occasions are extremely unusual for someone for goes to the theater and see as many celebrities as I do. However, such a momentous event happened to me last week. I caved in, actually scratch that. I gladly took on the cost of a full price (big lump in my throat, must swallow) to see what I knew would be the most talked about show of this theater season, Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Death of a Salesman.”
But before we can precede any further you need some background information. For instance, I had been waiting for this production to hit the Broadway stage for months; many, many months and I can prove it-
These links to my previous blogs show that I mentioned this show as early as March 30, 2011 and then again as I followed any and all news about it, on August 17, 2011. This should have been my omen. Instead I took it as something to look forward to. Silly rabbit tricks are for kids!
Anyway back to present time. So after a few months of waiting for coupons that would never arrive I took the plunge and purchased my very overpriced but hot ticket. But I knew it would be an experience. It is also important to note here that I never particularly cared for the story of “Death of a Salesman.” After all it is kind of a downer and I get enough of that watching the Investigation Discovery channel. I had read the play in high school so I knew the plot but I thought my God seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman will be something and better yet I was going mostly to meet him after at the stage door. To say I am enormous fan of his film career is an understatement. I can prove this too as his name is a constant on my blog, as it was mentioned here again on July 24, 2011 in reference to his award winning portrayal of Truman Capote-
This happens to be my favorite performance of his of all time.
Since this show had a limited engagement and I had purchased my ticket about a month before I was attending, it turns out I was seeing the second to last performance of the entire run. That added some excitement and tension in the air. On the day of the show I was sick as a dog with a sinus infection yet I knew I had to drag myself to this show because there would be no other opportunities and I had waited so long to see it. Plus it was day two of my Broadway week, as I was seeing three shows in six days.
When I finally arrived I took pictures of the theater and the signs that said the show was sold out. That didn’t stop people from walking in off the street still attempting to purchase tickets. I felt like that kid from the Willy Wonka movie except it was I who had the golden ticket! I silently patted myself on the back for a job well done for purchasing when I had. Even though I was alone I couldn’t have been happier. I was anxious for the lights to dim and counting down to the final moments of the show when I would shove past the two nice people to my right and make a mad dash to the stage door to claim my rightful spot at the front of the barricade to meet my star!
Now as I mentioned above I had planned to be a little bored during the show because of the material, NOT the actors. But to my great delight that was not the case. I was in a state of shock as I was gasping out loud reacting to scenes as they unfolded before my eyes. It was like I was truly learning the story for the first time.
For weeks I had been seeing the ads and reading the reviews of how wonderful the performances were. I didn’t know what I would think. But I was in shock. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s command of the stage and of this role, especially in since this was his Broadway debut, was astounding. All of the press and buzz had been right. Not only right but also maybe even undersold the excellence if possible. He was truly captivating and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.
Andrew Garfield of Social Network and the upcoming new Spiderman movie fame played Biff and was an utterly fantastic foil for Hoffman’s Willy. Had these two actors not had the guts, strength, and raw talent, the show would have crumbled. I was just sitting there with my mouth open most of the time. The show was flying by. I had not seen Andrew before on film but now know his talent would probably not come through as clearly. I am eager to see when and what will be his next Broadway role because that is where he is destined to be.
Not to be missed and surely of equal importance to round out the cast of the Loman family were Linda Emond as Linda and Finn Wittrock as Happy. These four actors and characters were all a perfect fit. None would have been a success without the other. Each brought out the other's talent. Each character was so real and three dimensional, your heart just burst with emotions back and forth for every one of them.
At intermission I stretched my legs and took a breather. The theater was so jammed packed and hot. It was unbearable weather that day in New York City. Those fifteen minutes flew by. Within an instant we were back in our seats awaiting the fate of the Lomans and the conclusion of the show. Then I knew my destiny, I would make my run for it and finally have my glorious moment with Mr. Hoffman which now after seeing this show I was even more excited for.
As soon as the curtain dropped and the audience was on their feet, I was up and on mine out that door. I was so proud of myself. I was the first one at the barricade. My system never fails me! (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/03/for-those-who-want-to-learn-to-stalk.html)
As it was starting to drizzle outside I opened my umbrella and was all prepared. The crowd started to emerge and disburse. It was then I recognized a familiar face from a few rows in front of me. It was James Lipton of the Actor’s Studio going in and out of the stage door quickly after a brief hello. I quickly captured his picture and waved despite not many people seeming to notice him. He appears much smaller to me in person. It must be that stage or something about being on stage that shrinks people in real life.
The next person out of the stage door was Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live and a few of his friends. He was nice enough to wave and I tried to capture his photo but it was hard as he was leaving in a hurry.
Next up it was Finn Wittrock who exited quickly and I didn’t get to meet. Then Andrew Garfield came out. He was super friendly and signed playbills and tried to get to everyone. He allowed photographs to be taken even though he was starting to get soaked from the light rain. He was a dear and when I was startled by his British accent (I was unaware of his heritage, another sign of his talent) he took it in kind. I cannot express enough how sweet and skilled he was. All of the young girls were melting over him.
To be clear at the stage door there were only two types of people: those young girls there to see Andrew Garfield and then the five remaining adults waiting for Philip Seymour Hoffman. For the record I would have loved to have met Linda Emond also. But that was not in the cards for me. After most of the crowd left after Andrew, I waited patiently. It had only been about ten minutes and I have been known to wait as long as it takes. A personal best has been well over an hour. The rain had stopped so it was much more pleasant. That’s when the other shoe dropped.
All of a sudden the security guard went back in and came out and said “sorry guys Phil is gone.” Then he proceeded to take away the barricades and then it was over. Everyone left but I stood there stunned. I was confused. For a moment, I thought who is Phil? In my mind I always use his full name: Philip Seymour Hoffman, like I am introducing him to royalty. It was then that my heart broke with the full realization in front of me.
Normally I am well aware of the odds I take when going to wait at a stage door, but for some reason I expected more here. I expected that with only two shows to go, with an audience that had wanted to badly to meet him, with literally only a handful of signatures to do, that we would receive a courtesy. I have been to stage doors before where actors are hurt, or in a rush, and just come out and say hi, or sorry, but I got to go. They stand for a posed photo. It is just the thought. The thought that you are only on Broadway or even famous because of the general public who pays to see you perform. Whether you are good or not is not the point.
I have a grievance list of actors who do not do this and it is known as my black list. Fool me once, I will never seen you perform again and will never recommend you to anyone either. Big mistake! Huge! Being polite goes a long way. At least tell people before they stand in the rain. I have met bigger stars than this who were generous and appreciative. So it’s not who you are, it’s who you think you are. Hell hath no fury like a blogger scorn!
Despite my obvious gripes about how this evening ended, overall I'm glad I splurged to see the show. It was a fantastic production, captivating, and just plan awe inspiring.
But some hurt and disappointment can't be undone or forgotten.
Just ask Willy Loman.
For reviews and interviews:
For the reason behind full price tickets: