The stage door is a unique, magical experience – but boundaries have to be respected

Recent experiences have highlighted some individuals can ruin a night for performers

A stage door sign, Matt Brown, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

I still remember my first stage door experience – loitering on a chilly side street in Birmingham to pose, alongside some drama friends, with James Corden after a touring performance of One Man, Two Guvnors. I still have the photo to hand. There was something slightly surreal about it – the chance to see a performer who had just made thousands roll in the aisles laughing, now just an ordinary bloke on the street in Brum.

I recall meeting Mark Rylance after a performance in 2016 – almost bowled over that someone who appeared so colossal on stage was the same size as anyone else.

But stage door experiences have to come with respect and an understanding that anything is voluntary, rather than compulsory. By and large, 99.99 per cent of interactions are exactly that – a chance to meet fans, pose for photos and generally revel in the post-curtain call buzz. An important point of connection between performer and punter. Tom Holland essentially shut down St Martin’s Lane earlier this week after the first preview of Romeo and Juliet.

Weeks after Hadestown star Melanie la Barrie tweeted about her discomfort at stage door, Six performer Hannah Lowther has taken to social media to give a similar plea to those wanting to meet and greet stage stars post-show. Lowther highlighted today on social media that “a very small percentage of interactions” can make her feel “vulnerable and uncomfortable”. The post comes after the former Heathers and SpongeBob star stated that she was: “kissed on the neck” earlier this week following a performance in London.

Six, which continues to sell out nightly at the Vaudeville Theatre (while also playing to packed houses on tour, and on Broadway), is one of the most celebrated new musicals this century. It has amassed millions of fans across the globe and has major social followings across continents. Lowther was keen to emphasise how joyful these stage door experiences are, but that there “needs to be boundaries”.

Lowther isn’t the only performer reflecting on stage door experiences – recently Strictly Come Dancing star Layton Williams, who is about to appear in the award-winning Cabaret in the West End, said: “Let’s normalise security, a nice formed line and a barrier for peace and respect to *everyone* involved! I’ve actually missed theatre and stage door but this takes me back”

Carl Man, who is currently playing Fiyero in the touring production of Wicked, shared: “& Juliet used to be a free for all and chaotic at times. I think stage doors in London need to copy Broadway where there are barriers so performers can walk down the line and sign and move on (if they wish).”