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Celebrity Safari at Broadway’s Stage Doors

Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman, currently starring on Broadway in Seminar (Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen)

Celebrity spotting is a unique part of the experience of living in New York.  And, a far cry from your aunt’s oft-told story about that time that she saw the local weatherman at the supermarket, eagle-eyed New Yorkers frequently spot big-time celebs, like bona fide movie stars and such.  While you can never predict when you’ll have one of these sightings, you can treat out-of-town visitors such as your dear auntie to a veritable celebrity safari by catching these shooting stars as they escape the theaters where they perform.

The wattage of these stars varies, with Hugh Jackman (Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway), Samuel L. Jackson (The Mountaintop), and Harry Connick, Jr. (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever) being among the most spectacularly famous trodding the Broadway boards right now.  TV fans might prefer to see Sex and the City‘s Kim Cattrall (taking on Noel Coward in Private Lives), Psych‘s Dule Hill (co-starring in the new family comedy Stick Fly), or Night Court‘s John Larroquette (singing and dancing in the musical theater classic How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying).  Brooke Shields (The Addams Family), Stacy Keach and Stockard Channing (Other Desert Cities), Bway legend Bernadette Peters (Follies) and Angela Bassett (The Mountaintop) are among the other well-known performers currently on view.

The scene at a Broadway stage door can vary wildly.  At the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on West 45th Street, where Daniel Radcliffe is starring in How To Succeed, the crowds are raucous and early arrival time is essential if you want to get an autograph from the Harry Potter star.  Meanwhile, just half a block east on the same street, Radcliffe’s colleague Alan Rickman (Severus Snape in the Potter movies and a veteran of the stage) exits each night to a much smaller and calmer, though no less appreciative group of fans asking for pictures and autographs.

Most actors appreciate hearing that you genuinely enjoy their work, so rather than just shoving a Playbill in their face to sign, a kind comment about a favorite performance (especially if it’s one of their less-well-known performances) can be a good way to draw them into conversation.  Many will oblige requests to have your photo taken with them.

Naturally it’s most fun to see a favorite actor play onstage before meeting them afterwards.  But if you’re strapped for cash, just find out what time the show ends ( posts running times for many shows) and then wait by the stage door after it concludes to see the cast come out.  Some actors escape quickly after the performance, but you may be waiting as long as an hour for others.  A few performers don’t like to come out after matinees, so you’ll have better luck after evening shows.

Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera, as you are sure to want photographic evidence of having rubbed elbows with a Hollywood hotshot.  Happy hunting!