My on-stage experience at An Enemy of the People - thank you teatrera!! (SPOILERS)
Last Edit: mikem 10:44 am EDT 06/19/24
Posted by: mikem 10:41 am EDT 06/19/24

teatrera, I can't thank you enough for your advice about how to get chosen to be on stage for the beginning of Act II for An Enemy of the People. I followed your advice exactly, and it worked! I got an aisle seat in the 400 section and got there as soon as they opened the house. The good news is that I don't think I seemed too eager because at first, I was looking around for an audience wrangler (for lack of a better word), but then I started having a good conversation with the person next to me, and I kind of forgot about it. Then an audience wrangler approached us and asked us both if we wanted to participate, and told us we could sit at the table.

This was also good because there was a huge traffic jam to try to get on stage at all during the pause, and by the time I got to the front, they were only letting people on if they were going to be staying for the beginning of Act II. For some reason, it seemed like they were letting more people on from the 200-odd side, so if that's something you want to do but don't want to sit in the 400s to have the chance to sit on stage, I would sit on that side (at least based on this performance).

The on-stage experience was incredible! Especially since I ended up sitting at the seat at the table closest to the action, the best seat in the house for the town meeting. It's very close to where Hovstad, the journalist played by Caleb Eberhardt, was standing, so Jeremy Strong was basically looking in my direction from just a few feet away for quite a bit of the town hall. The only people with that vantage point are the people at the table, so I was very lucky to sit there, especially as the person closest to the action. It really felt like I was in the middle of the show since I had actors all around me, even more so once the fighting broke out, where the viciousness of the action was really clear from close-up. I also didn't have any audience members in my direct sightline, so everyone I could see was dressed for the time period. At one point, one of the actors got thrown into the table, which shook quite a bit, and then it really felt like I was in the middle of the show! I got caught up in the action, and it felt very real.

One interesting note is that, once things start getting heated up, Michael Imperioli, who is unmiked for this, very soothingly repeats, "Everyone stay calm, everyone stay seated," to the audience members on stage. Although it took me out of the show a bit, I can see why he does this because it really feels like you are in the middle of the action and you don't know what's going to happen, but whatever it is, it's escalating and going to be bad. Kudos to all the actors for creating this real sense of danger. I went to the stage door afterwards and asked the actors about the audience interaction, and they said that, in addition to the climate change protesters, there was an incident where one of the audience members was so caught up that she tried to help Jeremy Strong during the fight scene. I can see why someone would do that. I don't know if that's what prompted Imperioli to start trying to soothe everyone.

So teatrera, thank you, thank you, thank you! It was really incredible. I have been in immersive situations before, but not from such a unique vantage point. I was also incredibly lucky because I think if I had been sitting in any other seat for the town meeting, it would not have affected me so much. I will never forget it. The woman sitting next to me, who also sat at the table, told me while we were chatting before getting chosen that this was the first Broadway show she had ever seen. Afterwards, I told her, "Don't expect it to be like this all the time. This was really special."

I know the show is only open for another week, but if you have a chance, go see it. Trying to get chosen to sit on stage is a bit of a gamble, though, and I think the long sections are a better vantage point for most of the show than the end section, where I was sitting to get chosen. I also was sitting pretty far back to get an aisle seat, and the first twenty minutes are very dimly lit. I think I could have seen the action better if I had sat closer, although the rest of the show is lit normally, and it wasn't an issue after the opening scene.
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