Marlee Matlin, audience member

January 16, 2009
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Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin ("Children of a Lesser God") got into town early for her "Dancing with the Stars" performance in time to catch the Phoenix Theatre's production of "Love Person." The play stars Tami Lee Santimyer, who also starred in a Kennedy Center production of "Nobody's Perfect" based on a book by Matlin.

Nice to see touring stars making the effort to see regional theater while on the road--it speaks well of them and of the arts in the city they are visiting.

And, let's be honest, there's always a guilty-pleasure kick in seeing a celeb--no matter how big--in the audience at a show.  

For some stupid reason, I can still recall spotting Donald Trump at a Tommy Tune concert, David Hartman in the audience at Broadway's "Drood," Christopher Guest at "Gypsy," Kathie Lee Gifford at "South Pacific" and more.

What's wrong with me? And, more importantly, what celebs have you spotted at arts events?
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  • Oh, I'll bite. Just before filming for Sex and the City began, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick sat two rows directly in front of me at an off-Broadway play, which starred Kristen Johnson (of 3rd Rock From the Sun and one of the final SATC eps, in which she complains about being so bored!...) and Michael Weiss (of The Pretender). Everyone in the theatre knew that SJP and MB were there, but they were pretty much left alone. I didn't have the guts to ask for an autograph.
  • Mom and I caught the pre-Broadway opening of Hairspray at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, WA several years ago. Director, John Waters and Bruce Villanche were in the audience. During intermission, mom walked right up to them and told Waters what she thought of the show. He seemed to really appreciate the positive feedback and they chatted for several minutes.
  • During the run of our last show Musica Latina I was pleasantly shocked and surprised to run into David Parsons in the lobby before the show. In the dance world, David is a big deal. For many years in Paul Taylor's company he was the golden boy of modern dance, and then started his own company after he choreographed his still biggest hit Caught. His company has appeared a few times at Clowes over the years. David was extremely complimentary and even stayed afterwards to talk to the Dance Kaleidoscope dancers. One dancer, not believing that it indeed was THE David Parsons aked him to produce his driver's license, which he did!
  • Last summer, I was walking through Washington Square (in Greenwich Village, not the Eastside) and ran into filmmaker Ken Burns animatedly digging an absolutely horrible version of the Doobie Brothers song Blackwater, which was being performed by a ad-hoc, ragtag group of street musicians. He was smiling, eyes closed, boppin' back and forth, giving them back a lot of positive energy. I'm a total fan and just could not resist going up to him and mumbling something about how awesome his work was, and how 'in these dark days of the American Journey, his work kept all that was good about us alive', something like that. He looked up at me, smiled and shook my hand, and the woman he was with said something like That's a lovely thing to say. And then he closed his eyes and got back into the music.....I had forgotten all about that - thanks for jogging the memory!
  • Met Stephanie Courtney (Flo from the Progressive TV commercials) at Improvapalooza in Louisville last weekend - she is a member with Groundlings in LA performed with Louisville Improvisers.

    During our production of Wit a few years back, the Phoenix brought its author, Pulitzer winner Margaret Edson to Indy. And as I recall, Lou, you were quite taken when you met singer Christine Lavin here at the Phoenix when she performed here.
  • Last year at a matinee performance of Boradway's Spring Awakening, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher sat 3 rows behind me (I was in the fourth row). They were escorted in just before the house lights went down. They were also escorted in and out at intermission time and at the end of the performance. I did not see anyone have the opportunity to approach them. It was just a thrill for me to know I had a better seat!
  • Got nuthin'... probably happened but I'm usually OVERLY focused on the stage. Plus, being honest with myself and others, I couldn't spot a celebrity if they introduced themselves to me.

    Anybody else?
  • When I was working at the Indianapolis Museum of Art a few years ago, I took a double-take when I saw Bill Paxton walking through the American art galleries on a very-slow Saturday afternoon. He was in town for the Heartland Film Festival and took time out to see some art (which is what he told me after I welcomed him to the IMA). I could immediately tell that he wanted to be left alone and enjoy a calm anonymous existence where he could just enjoy some visual beauty without being asked for an autograph or have his picture taken. I made sure he got that well-deserved experience at the IMA.
  • Marlene Dietrich was in the audience when I saw Two Gentlemen of Verona a hundred years ago on Broadway.

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