We went to the stage door and began waiting for the girls upstairs. Once we made it past the doorman at the Marquis Theater (and by the way, a shout out to John who watches the door over at The Addams Family who I am told reads this blog in his spare time), we were whisked into the dressing room of one Jan Maxwell. If you don't know her, please learn about her. I ordinarily find that going backstage after a show is very awkward and uncomfortable but seeing it was my friend's birthday and it needed to be special, the strings were pulled. Ms. Maxwell made being backstage a completely comfortable situation. Gracious, kind, congenial, lovely, talented, sincere and fucking cool are all words that come to mind when describing this woman. The next thing we knew we were talking about The Bitchy Waiter and I swear on a stack of ketchup-covered menus that it was not me who brought it up. "So tell me about this Bitchy Waiter," she said as I began losing my mind that she was even talking to me. I explained what it was in a few succinct sentences, but in my head, this is what was happening:
Oh my God you were so amazing in the show and can I just tell you how much I loved your performance because I have only heard the cast recording and I never really knew what the full story was about but now I do and you made that happen for me because you are so good and I also want you to know that you were the only thing I liked when I saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on Broadway because I thought that show was really really weak but every time you came on stage you lit it up just like you did tonight in every scene and especially in your songs Could I Leave You? and The Story of Lucy and Jessie and I wanna be your best friend and have cocktails at Lani Kai every Monday. Do you think we can make that happen?
Instead, I played it cool and told her that I write about waiting tables. "I waited tables," she said "but I was fired every time. I was horrible at it." So now Jan Maxwell and I had an instant and real connection because we had both been fired from restaurant jobs. (Yes, that counts as a real connection.) She chatted for about ten minutes and then we excused ourselves so she could go on with her night. She shook our hands and I asked her to please check out my blog. Yes, even when starstruck, I am pimping out my fucking blog.
We moved into the hallway to see what we should do next. Go home, get out, go to the stage, what? All of a sudden, who's that woman? I know her well, all decked out head to toe. Bernadette Peters floated over to us on a cloud of musical theater dreams, curls and Tony Awards. I wanted to embrace her Milky Whites (for you, Larry) just to see if she was real. She signed Larry the Birthday Boy's program and then let us adore her for a few minutes. It really was quite surreal to be having a conversation with someone I have known of for decades and only seen on television, film and stage. She too shook our hands and thanked us for coming. I did not learn if she ever waited tables and I did not mention the blog because I was too busy grasping for air since all of the oxygen was sucked out of the room when she came in. She was friendly and sweet to take time out to meet with us.
After we left the theater, we were all in need of a celebratory cocktail. My brain was spinning with excitement not only from meeting two musical theater superstars, but also because the production itself was so wonderful. If you're in or around New York City, you should see Follies. And if you go backstage, tell Jan and Bernadette that Bitchy Waiter said hello. They won't know what the hell you're talking about, but say it anyway. As I sipped my margarita I found myself dreaming of the great day when I'll be in a show. Oh.
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