[Sorry, been nursing a head cold. Those NYC germs are aggressive.]
As soon as we crossed the party threshold, we fell down the rabbit hole.
It wasn’t that we couldn’t handle this extraordinary and unique opportunity. We were both women of a certain age, trained in social etiquette, common sense, adept in making quick judgments calls. We bound and gagged and our Inner Fangirls and entered as theater-goers/patrons. It was after all, basically a cocktail party, so we conformed accordingly, mingling and chatting with guests, and enjoying ourselves. Zan gives a better account here about who said what. Some of the younger cast member were quite charming, brimming with youth and euphoria, eager to talk about the stress of the production and or when they could be seen on PBS soon. All of them lit up at the news that the production was well received, and hoped it might be a springboard to a bigger Broadway run. I soaked up the energy and purposefulness and contemplated where I could go with my own creative endeavors.
Here’s where the surreal part began: as we slowly worked our way among the cast dotting the room, we pondered the 6’2″ question holding up the bar. What were we going to do about Richard Armitage? Indeed. What do you do when the only person in the room with whom you’d like to chat know you’re his fans? Although we’d discarded that role at the door, his certain knowledge still restricted options for both us as fans and him as the star. Had we not participated in the lobby, we might have felt more at liberty chatting with him, and he with us, but that’s not what happened. A tiny voice whispered in the back of my mind: watch it, you’re representing to him and everybody in here, – knowing technically I was only responsible for myself. Calm thoughts, eh? Still we had to discern the appropriate thing to do. A few glances showed him chatting animatedly in group. No problem. He’d given us his time in the lobby, so we would leave him alone to talk with friends and colleagues. Problem solved.
But not quite. Zan murmured that he’d glanced our way a few times, so I glanced over – only to meet a pair of blue eyes. He’d catch us looking; we’d catch him looking. There was nothing hostile or negative in his glances. Suddenly, he’d turn his head and regard us with open curiosity. This was a bit disconcerting. I’m a watcher; I watch other people. I wasn’t used to being observed by others, especially by somebody like him. Good grief. He continued looking our way the rest of the evening, even after we established ourselves as polite, sociable and nuisance-free. What was he thinking?
As the crowd thinned, Zan and I needed an exit strategy. It would have been quite obvious to him that we’d chatted up everybody but him. Seeing only one person left with RA, Zan suggested we congratulate RA and leave. Ah, perfect! His head swung towards us expectantly. As she said her compliments and thanks, he lit up like a Christmas tree. His almost “oh gosh” reaction so tickled me that I looked at his lady friend; her eyes twinkled too. He turned to me, eyes still gleaming, and shook my hand. I think I murmured agreement as his glow nearly blotted everything out. My goodness. He turned to his friend, still beaming and we exited. Later I wondered if he wasn’t lit up by wine, but from the warmth of his smile and handshake, I think he appreciated us.
Zan and I chatted until the wee hours trying to wrap our minds around the whole thing. In all my years in fandoms, I’ve never had an experience quite like it. It will definitely be something I’ll remember for a long time.