Brightman donates the fees from typical online meet-and-greets, the kinds of fan interactions he used to provide without cost, but hangs on to the payments for coaching sessions. For Lauren Patten, a star of “Jagged Little Pill,” one-on-one online interactions require more emotional labor than a quick selfie, which justifies the price.
“I’ve ended up having really beautiful, intimate conversations with people about the themes of the show,” she said. “This is a level of connection and access that I am never able to give at stage door.”
Kristy Poteat, a hairdresser who lives in North Carolina and discovered online stage doors via a Facebook fan site for “Jagged Little Pill,” agreed. Real stage doors are too hectic, she said: “You’re lucky to get a quick autograph. To have an actual conversation with somebody that you admire, it’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience.”
And the money has meant a lot to Broadway performers, nearly all of whom are now scrambling for work. “Some of our top talent are making a completely livable wage from Broadway Plus alone,” Nathaniel Hill, its founder said. (A couple of “Hamilton”-associated actors confirmed this.)
For Patten, the fees can soften worry over rent. Murin, who is married to the actor Colin Donnell, said the money allowed her to pay for extras. “Like, I felt OK about holidays this year, buying gifts and whatnot,” she said.
There are emotional perks, too. Iglehart longs for the adulation of the stage door. When he meets fans online or via reaction videos he feels it again. “There’s still that moment of shock and awe,” he said. Patten says the interactions make her miss her show a little less.
Brightman signed up initially to provide for the fans — and to funnel donations to Black Girls Code. But as the months went on, “it became much more for me,” he said. “I was like, ‘I really crave this.’” These stage doors make him feel like he is still a Broadway actor, even when he isn’t acting.