The Best Part of New York Theater Is Seeing Moderately Famous People

I love going to see plays and musicals. I will sit in front of a stage full of people whose job it is to entertain me, whether they be shouting at each other in a dysfunctional family play like Other Desert Cities or they’re covered in yak fur and make-up and prancing around like cats. But what I really love about seeing theater is the chance of getting to see some B- and C-list celebrity act on stage. 

On Friday night, I saw An Enemy of the People, a new version of a little-known (at least to me) Ibsen drama about political stuff. (I dunno, it was complicated. Of course, the show is still in previews so I will spare you my review because that’s just not polite.) It featured heavyweights and dudes who are definitely not within the BlackBook demographic, four-time Tony winner Boyd Gaines and Richard "John Boy Walton" Thomas. But you know who else was in it? Gerry Bamman! Who is Gerry Bamman? Well, I didn’t know at first, either, but as soon as he entered from stage left I knew that I had seen him somewhere. It turns out he was Frank McCalister, Kevin’s mean uncle from Home Alone. So obviously I spent the next hour and a half giggling because I could only hear him muttering, "Look what ya did, ya little jerk."

That’s the glorious thing about New York theater! Where else are you going to see Patricia Kalember if not on reruns of thirtysomething or Sisters? (I saw her over the summer in Don’t Dress For Dinner with Jennifer Tilly. Jennifer Tilly, you guys!) Could I have dared not to see Amy Irving in Zoe Kazan’s We Live Here last year? No way! (Also spotted in the audience: Lucy Liu! That’s the other great thing about New York: seeing famous people in the audience. Except for the time I saw Perez Hilton at Evita.) And Jerry O’Connell in a gingham shirt and Natunket reds? That was Seminar‘s saving grace, really. (Sorry, Alan Rickman.)

I mean, seeing Chris Rock in The Motherfucker With the Hat or the star-studded cast of The Best Man (featuring James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, John Larroquette, and Candice Bergen) was great and all, but I don’t know if it will rival seeing Mare Winningham in Tribes and thinking, "Hey, I have seen your boobs in St. Elmo’s Fire!" And Sutton Foster killed it in Anything Goes last year, but Jessica Walter (who played Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development) barely being able to dance and singing two couplets in the finale? I died. 

Of course, you don’t have to be a New Yorker to see sort-of famous people in plays. After all, I saw Petula Clark in the national tour Sunset Boulevard back when I was in middle school. And the time I saw Grease with Mackenzie Phillips as Rizzo, Adrian Zmed as Danny, and Sally Struthers as the principal? Forget about it. 

Contact the author of this post at tyler@blackbookmag.com, and follow him on Twitter.

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