Chelsea and Roxie came to town to see "Mary Stuart" last night, and SarahB and I tried to make it worth their while. We sat in Row D of the orchestra, and director Phyllida Lloyd was in the row behind us, which was terribly exciting since she also directed "Mamma Mia," which means she has a lot of money. (Also, during intermission the woman in front of us turned to ask Roxie and me if we could please talk about smelly feet when the man sitting next to her returned to his chair, in the hopes of convincing him by proxy to keep his shoes on during the second act. We assured her we would take care of it and let's just say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.)
We stagedoored after the show because, come on, and if you've never been so lucky as to meet theater nerds up close and in person, I think this pretty well demonstrates that they are a special breed.
Here Chelsea and Roxie stand slightly in terror and much in awe of the Real Harriet Walter. I believe SOMEONE told Harriet Walter that as Queen Elizabeth she reminded her of her boss, and then Sarah said we watched "Sense and Sensibility" earlier in the day and loved it when she pinched the nose of Miss Lucy Steele. Harriet Walter just laughed and laughed, as what else could the poor woman possibly do. (You'll notice the wide moon of POTO waxing just over her shoulder, which adds an extra dose of awesome to the whole affair.)
The Real Harriet Walter further humored us by signing my 1936 copy of "Gaudy Night." She starred as Harriet Vane in the BBC TV adaptation 20 years ago so it's not totally random yet not terribly apropos of anything at all, but this is what happens when you cross-pollinate a theater nerd with a book nerd and a TV nerd; i.e., NERD SPARKS FLY. The ultimate nerd note, of course, is that she actually signed it "Harriet Walter (Vane)." Which means that she understands what it is to stand in front of someone you admire and ask them to bless something you love.
And here is Janet McTeer, with whom these two now enjoy a special relationship.
After the show we were desperately in need of cocktails, and as we walked through the window of the restaurant who should we find sitting inside but John Benjamin Hickey, who plays the shifty Lord Leicester. And no sooner were we shown to our table when Sarah said, Look who's at the hostess station, pointing to director Phyllida Lloyd and the Real Harriet Walter, who were ushered away to a special table and later joined by Janet McTeer and more of the cast. Much later than that, Phyllida Lloyd came back down to the bar to pay their bill and I got to thank her for bringing us this wonderful production, although she declined my invitation to cover our tab.
Somewhere in the midst of all this we actually managed to accost the good-humored and gracious John Benjamin Hickey as he passed by our table. He seemed very excited by how excited we were about the show, and he chatted and signed autographs and posed for pictures. For some reason all I could think to say as he put his arm around me was "I'm sorry I'm wearing my glasses."
"Not a problem," said John Benjamin Hickey as he quickly donned his specs. "So will I." At which point SarahB hit him with the spotlight.
Ah, Broadway! Unfortunately for all of us, in two weeks' time the Summer of Harriet Walter officially comes to a close.