https://video.aol.com/video/curtains-up-on-katies-broadway-debut/2284749?icid=100214839x1211809794x1200712093 (Click here to see aol footage of the event I'm writing about below.. and hey I even have a cameo at the end.. enjoy!)
So as you all know, I occasionally will work for an events company here in New York that produces opening night parties for Broadway shows. I've also worked various charity events (the BidAWee and BuddyWalk events) and stuffed envelopes. Ah, the joy of New York living where everyone has two or three jobs. Sigh.
Over the past couple years I've met Olivia Newton John, Susan Lucci, Robin Strasser and seen a half dozen others including notoriously Marion Seldes. This past Thursday, it was time for me to meet Katie Holmes.
Now, I have to say here upfront that I've never been agog by Ms. Holmes. I never watched Dawson's Creek when she was on that save for a couple random episodes here and there. I thought it was a very nice show but not worth all the crazy hype surrounding it (much like the nuttiness going on with Gossip Girl - much ado about nothing).
And when she met and married Tom Cruise the whole jumping on the couch thing seemed very forced and ridiculous but apt I suppose given persistent gay rumors that have dogged Cruise's career. But even then, Holmes was a kind of cypher to me, a pretty girl who had lucked into a really good marriage but who was sort of .. well, not really there. I wondered - why were people so ga ga about her?
Well, I found out.
Last Thursday I worked the All My Sons opening night party. Sometimes we get paid in tickets to see the show and sometimes we actually get paid. We were actually getting paid which was good since the temp had dropped about 20 degrees from the time I'd left my apartment on the upper west side til the time I arrived at Espace on W. 42nd Street 45 minutes later. I certainly wasn't dressed to be out on the sidewalk taking tickets from partygoers but there I stood with five other guys, all of us shivering in our business suits trying our best not to let patrons hear our teeth chatter.
The show, a revival of the classic Arthur Miller play, stars Patrick Wilson, John Lithgow and Katie Holmes. As is usual for these types of big starred events, security is tight and there's a press area on the sidewalk where the stars walk through and get grilled by various media.
We were out there shivering slightly and Michael, the head of the events company, moved us around like chess pieces setting us first in two rows of three to take tickets and then later, up as a human blockade between the official press in the official tent on one side, and a group of fans? freelancers? held back behind a fence on the sidewalk on the other.
It was kind of a scary atmosphere because the general anxiety began reaching a fevered pitch as three policemen, various security guards, the five of us working the door (one had gone inside) and a number of party guests came and went all swirled about in anticipation of the moment when Holmes would break free from the official press and the freelance press would have a scant few seconds to get The Shot before she went inside to the venue. We were all a little worried because it had the feel that chaos could break out at any moment and when I caught a glimpse of the guns the policemen wore, I kind of got a little freaked out. Michael noticed this and leaned into us and said "if anything happens, don't be a hero, just get out of the way". I couldn't help but feel that the 'anything' meant gunfire. Anything is possible with crazy fans I suppose.
Patrick broke from the official press and slipped into the party and Katie and John moved steadily down the row of press. I could see her more clearly now, a mere slip of a woman, a girl really: pretty, petite, very graceful. I thought - Audrey Hepburn and was embarassed by the comparison.
As if entering the eye of the storm, at once the crowd (fans, police, security, others working with me) suddenly muted as Katie broke from the pack of reporters and came to stand just a foot or two away from me. I blushed. The cameras were right there. She was right there. And I have to admit, she was quite lovely. I think we all figured she'd go right in but then, one of the fan/freelancers behind us called out "Hey Katie, give us a picture".
And Katie turned. Her handlers visibly jarred. She walked towards me to get to the fans behind me. I froze. Michael grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me aside.. and Katie.. she slipped by me, poised, and girlish and smiling and blushing, turned to me and put her hand on my left shoulder and smiled broadly. The world ended and began in that instant. Her lips moved but all I heard was silence. I was stunned. And then she moved away, her handlers giving me a quick glance while Katie moved towards her fans that had been waiting for so long for her.
She let them take her picture and like a true star, took a few minutes to talk to them. Michael was stunned and the only thing I could think to say was "we're old friends". I have no idea what made me say that ... but she's one of those people who simply makes you feel as though you're old friends with her. Maybe that's what makes a star, a star.
She broke from the crowd and circled round the five of us standing there lined up gawking at her shimmying past the guy on the end (lets call him Steve because I can't remember his real name) but stopping to take his hand and saying "thank you for working this event". Steve froze too and she smiled and moved into the party space.
The effect on us was transformative. We kind of looked at each other and we laughed and shook our heads. The official and unofficial press broke up other than a few who lingered for the rest of the party hoping to get exclusive shots of her coming out. However, we were warm in the glow of the excitement of the moment, a friendly face and above all, a simple touch.