by Amber Ardolino
When a performance is over, I like the chance to meet audiences at the theatre’s stage door. Much of that positive association comes from my own memories of seeing shows. When I was a kid, I remember being so excited to meet the cast after a performance. It didn’t matter to me if the actors were playing leading roles or chorus parts. I know that it means a lot to people.
This weekend, I had an interaction at the Head Over Heels stage door that took me aback. When I went down the line to sign audiences’ Playbills, I noticed a man rolling his eyes at me. When I went to sign his Playbill, he pulled it away. I was in shock. Was it because I was in the ensemble? Did he not want my signature?
I waited to see what would happen if one of our show’s leads came out. Low and behold, he started cheering. The man who had just pulled his Playbill away from me is now asking for the principal’s signatures.
I’m one of just four women in the ensemble of Head Over Heels. I’m also a cover for one of the lead characters, Mopsa. The show is very demanding, with the eight member ensemble dancing, singing and acting non-stop for two and a half hours. No matter if you’re the star or an ensemble member like me, you’re working very hard.
This interaction at the stage door left me frustrated and a bit sad. Not only because of this man’s behavior, but because I let the situation get to me.
Not all exchanges at the stage door are positive. Last year, I was an ensemble member in Hamilton both on Broadway and in Chicago. In addition to being onstage in the ensemble, I occasionally went on as an understudy for Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds. Conversations I had with people at the stage door for Hamilton include:
“How is it being an extra?” (referring to the ensemble)
“I was so sad an understudy was on for Peggy today, but you were actually really good!”
“Which one were you?” - Woman. “I was in the ensemble,” - Me. “Oh! I didn’t watch you guys as much.” - Woman
The ensemble of any show is filled with hardworking and talented performers. I hope one day audiences will recognize that. If they don’t, we move on. We keep on practicing our craft and bettering ourselves. We should never dwell on negative words or opinions. At the end of the day, if we take time to come to the stage door and meet you, it would be nice if you treated us with respect. My mom always said “treat people how you want to be treated.” Kindness goes a long way.