You guys! You guys! A few nights ago I was crossing 57th Street at 8th Avenue, which I do at least once a day -- by the way, memo to whoever's responsible for traffic-law enforcement: that would be a really great intersection to have somebody ticketing drivers for running red lights, because they could catch at least one offender every single time the lights change. It would be easier than giving out parking tickets, and a much greater service to the city. But I digress. I was crossing 57th Street at a trot, because the "Don't Walk" hand was flashing, and mentally commending the folks on the other side of the street for noticing when it stopped flashing and deciding to wait for the next "Walk" signal, rather than venture out into intersection and snarl traffic even more. And then I realized that one of those people was - no kidding - Stephen Sondheim! The man himself!
"Did you say anything to him?" the fiance wanted to know, when I told him about my super-exciting "celebrity" sighting (I was on my way to his place at the time). But no, I didn't bother him, because while passing him on the street was the highlight of my day, I figure he doesn't need (or want) to know that. My guess is that he'd prefer to study the zigzaggy Hearst Tower (which he and his companion did as they waited for the light to change) in peace. Of course, I stared -- from a discreet distance -- and I'm blogging about it now, so I'm not saying I'm cool or anything.
Once, years ago, Jason Robert Brown passed me on the street, and that was pretty exciting. I'd actually met him a few years before that (at Yale), which was much more exciting. I didn't have anything for him to sign but my copy of Audra McDonald's album Way Back to Paradise -- in those days I was still listening to Parade on a dubbed tape (which I eventually wore out and replaced with the legit CD) and any other appropriate paraphernalia was in my bedroom at home. But he graciously signed the booklet from Audra's CD on the "Stars and the Moon" lyrics page, and I skipped off looking for someone to show it to. Of course, all the other people on campus who would have been impressed were in line behind me for autographs of their own. But still: exciting, right? And this year I topped even that, as you know, when I had the privilege of interviewing him (via phone) about 13. I mention all this because I just now read this little essay he posted on his blog back in July, about the peculiar experience of being "anonymous to the vast majority of the planet Earth" but, at the same time, "really famous to about four hundred people." It's an entertaining read, with all the insight and candor you expect from JRB.
What about you: Have you ever met/run into anybody who was a major celebrity in your eyes (but less so in the world at large)? Did you say hello, or merely squee internally? Did you regret your decision later?
And speaking of reasons to visit jasonrobertbrown.com: a friend now in London emailed me to ask what theatre I would recommend seeing. (How jealous am I?) Naturally, I told her I'd drop everything to see the Donmar Warehouse production of Parade. If you'd have said the same thing, you should read JRB's latest blog post, which details the revisions they've made to the show.