The Iceman Cometh by Me
I’m sure you’ve *all* been waiting to read this part of my KS story. For those of you who read it the first time around, back in 1999, here it is again! Most of the fans who went to TIC and then reported back to the others told similar stories. And now, MSOL with Kevin Spacey.
June 6, 1999 – I went to New York City for just the second time in my life to see Kevin in The Iceman Cometh. I went with my mother, sister and a friend of ours. We were lucky enough to get a room in a hotel just a few doors down from the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and just around the corner from Times Square. Since we were just going to be there for 2 days, this worked out very well. My mother and I were going to see the play on our second night, and my sister Suzanne, who wishes to remain anonymous, and our friend Chris were going to find something else to do. My mother just wanted to see Tony Danza. I, of course, had someone else in mind. I was there for one reason .. to be “iced” as the fans were calling it. Seeing Kevin Spacey perform live and hopefully getting an autograph afterwards. Actually, at $100 a ticket, we were expecting the best theater experience money can buy as well as a Spacey sighting on the sidewalk. It was exciting to see the lights in front of the BAT. It seemed unreal to be there.
The Barrymore Theater was across the street from our hotel and the play being performed there was Amy’s View starring Dame Judi Dench. After we checked in, we walked to Times Square and took pictures of all the usual tourist haunts, like the MTV studios building and other places like that. We went shopping at the Virgin Records and enjoyed their air conditioning! We walked around the Theater District taking pictures of the various marquees and ended up in front of the Gershwin Theater where the Tony Awards were about to be held. There were police barricades and an awning set up in front of the theater. We talked about coming back later and watching the celebrities arrive, but decided that we didn’t want to miss the Tony Awards on TV, and went back to the hotel to rest.
Later my mother went downstairs to find me a Coke since I was really needing a shot of caffeine, and when she came back she said that she had talked to a young couple in the elevator who were all dressed up and had asked them where they were going. The woman said that they were picking up her father and then going to the Tonys because her father had been nominated for two awards. She was very excited and was glad my mother had asked about their clothes because she was wanting to tell someone about her father! My mother couldn’t remember who the man was or what he was nominated for, but remembered that one of the plays was Electra.
We decided to go get some dinner before we watched the Tonys and left the hotel and noticed some people standing around the stage door at the Barrymore. We went over and were told that the people there were still waiting for Judi Dench to come out. We talked to some people from Scotland while we waited, and suddenly Timothy Busfield who played Elliott on Thirtysomething came out with an elderly woman from the play, whose name I cannot remember. I think it was Anna something. They were followed by Samantha Bond, who was nominated for a Tony. I remembered her from one of the Miss Marple movies with Joan Hickson that used to be shown on A&E.
Samantha Bond was beautiful in a black lace dress. She stopped at the stage door with her date and stood for a moment, letting the people waiting there take pictures. Someone wished her luck at the awards, she said thank you and left. Later a woman came to the door and said that Judi Dench would not be signing anything, but we could take pictures as she left.
When she came to the door, she was wearing a beautiful white gown with a matching stole. She stood for a moment letting us take her picture, then slowly walked to her car, thanking everyone for their support. This was how I always imagined someone leaving the stage door! It was like something out of a movie.
Some guy with a professional looking camera shoved me out of the way to get Judi Dench’s picture. He was about a foot taller than me and could have taken the picture over my head, but that apparently wasn’t good enough. The man from Scotland we were talking to let me stand where he’d been so I could try to get a picture.
We went for some dinner and returned to watch the awards on TV. I don’t think I have to describe that part to anyone, do I? We all saw it. Enough said.
June 7 – We woke to an unexpected heat wave. Since the temperature was going to be around 97 degrees, we changed our plans and did a bit of shopping. We could not find a single TIC souvenir *anywhere*! We went to the few places people had mentioned to me and nothing! I was glad that I had pre-ordered my TIC window card. We took it with us in its Federal Express box. My sister was in charge of bringing it to the theater after the play. I was hoping to get some autographs on it. We walked around awhile taking pictures of some of the recognizable places like Radio City Music Hall and the NBC Studios. It was unbearably hot! We went into St. Patrick’s Cathedral looking for relief from the heat and hoping for some kind of inspiration to keep us going a bit longer.
My mother and I had wilted in the heat and returned to the hotel to rest for the play that evening (Monday night), and my sister and our friend went to the Empire State Building, took a cab back to Times Square and saw John Fugelsang from VH1 interviewing someone on the street, but they weren’t sure who it was. They lined up for tickets to another show, and they were offered tickets to some of the biggest shows on Broadway, but my friend turned them all down. He only wanted to see Footloose, but that theater was dark on Mondays. They returned to the hotel to find my mother ill from the heat and it was decided that my sister would accompany me to TIC that evening instead of my mother.
So my sister and I stayed at the hotel to get dressed for the evening, and my mom and our friend wandered down to the BAT to try to see Kevin arriving on his Zappy, and to hopefully see Tony Danza arriving as well. My sister and I followed a short while later and my mother was telling us that some of the actors had been arriving and we were talking about a limo that was at the curb, and when I turned back to say something to my mother, I saw Kevin! He was taking his Zappy inside and a few girls that had been hanging around the stage door waiting for him became very excited, he smiled at them, stopped for a second because they were talking to him, and then went inside. My mother who had been waiting to take a Tony Danza photo, whipped around and took a wild shot with her camera! My friend said she’d done the same thing to Tony Danza when he arrived. We were all laughing about whether she had taken a picture of the wall instead of Kevin, and the guy changing light bulbs on the marquee laughed as well. We were all in good spirits in spite of the heat.
Mom and friend left to go get dinner and sister and I waited for the doors to open. We were looking around at the people waiting. That’s when we saw Kevin’s mother arrive. Someone in the play received a large floral arrangement. We saw that being taken in the stage door. The people waiting for the play were a very eclectic group.
I saw a few other people carrying flat Federal Express boxes in bags. It was strange seeing other people doing what I was going to do. But I left my box with the poster back at the hotel. My mom was bringing it later.
I wondered if any of the people I was looking at were from any of the Spacey fan email lists or message boards, but everyone was starting to suffer in the heat and no one was really talking to each other. A man finally came out and told everyone that the side door was open, come on in!
We went in the side door and saw a woman selling Iceman souvenirs, but we didn’t want to stop in the large crowd that was coming in after us. The first look inside the theater was unreal. We were in the right orchestra section, which later we would come to realize is the best place to be! We sat down and watched other people coming into the theater and wondered where these people were going to put their briefcases and Fed Ex boxes. Not only are the seats narrow, but there is no leg room. I’m not very tall, and I spent the show with my knees almost pressed into the back of the seat in front of me. I wondered how they would evacuate the theater in the event of a fire since we were packed in so tightly. In fact, the woman sitting next to my sister said that she’d been in nearly every theater in New York City and had never seen such small seats. But at the first intermission it became clear that getting out of the seats would not be a problem.
This same woman told us it would have been fun if “that guy” who lost the Tony the night before had won. That guy was probably backstage thinking the same thing.
Watching the stage was almost creepy. About 10 or 15 minutes before the start of the play, the actors start coming out one at a time, in character. The first guy comes slowly walking out and goes to one of the tables to get a drink and ends up on the floor. Then another man comes out. This is all happening while the lights are still on and people are coming in looking for their seats. Very creepy. This goes on until the bell chimes and the lights go out. The play has started.
At the first intermission, everyone bolted to their feet! And ran for the bar and restrooms. Those places were too crowded so my sister and I just stood off to the side near the outside doors. The rest of the play went on and I couldn’t believe I was there. I told my sister that I could understand why people were seeing the play more than once. This was said before my feet had started to hurt from walking all day and I’d started to lose all feeling in my lower body from sitting for so long.
Seeing Kevin in front of me gave me a feeling of deja vu a few times. There had been taped scenes from the play on TV a few times and to see those same scenes in front of you was an interesting experience. Plus, I would be watching Kevin and suddenly realize I wasn’t paying any attention to the play, then later would notice that I was watching the play instead of Kevin. This is how good everyone in the play is. I actually found myself watching the other actors while Kevin Spacey was in front of me! Clarke Peters was very good. The women were as well. The way the stage was angled downward was interesting. So were the bed frames on the back wall. To indicate a second floor, I’d assume. At times the actors were near the edge of the stage. Once I thought Kevin was going to step right off the edge into the audience.
I found myself having an odd reaction to seeing Kevin on the stage. Most of the time it was like watching him on film. Very surrealistic. I felt very calm and composed. And then he would do something with his grin and it was like looking at his pictures. One time he was over near the edge of the stage, on the right side and was looking over to the left of the stage and I suddenly became aware of his hair and the way it curls under his left ear, and I thought … “It’s Kevin Spacey!” and was afraid I’d said that out loud.
Fortunately for everyone, especially my sister, I had kept this to myself. Although it took about 10 minutes for me to get back into the play. One funny thing happened. At least it was funny to me. Have you seen the old Carol Burnett show skit that had Carol and Vicki Lawrence being inside a women’s jail? Vicki was a dimwitted woman with a high and squeaky voice and Carol was the tough broad. Vicki holds her hands up to her mouth and plays a sad song. Carol tells her it was great and Vicki says in this high, squeaky, dumb blonde voice .. “If you thought that was good, wait until I get a harmonica.”
Weeell .. Kevin was sitting at the edge of the stage and he’s holding his hands up to his mouth and the strains of a song can be heard and the women sitting behind me are whispering that he’s great at it and the thought pops into my head that if they think that’s great, wait until he gets a harmonica. And I suddenly thought I’d said it out loud. Fortunately for all and especially for me, I had not. But I did have a hard time not laughing.
Don’t ever take a dose of Sudafed before you go to the theater, no matter how much you can’t breathe from sinus problems!
My feet were starting to hurt from walking around all day and I tried to unobtrusively remove my shoes for a few minutes and had a few nerve-wracking moments towards the end of the play when I couldn’t feel one of my shoes on the floor. I finally found it and put my shoes back on just as the play ended and the audience was standing to give the cast a standing ovation.
I had wondered if the loss of the Tony the night before would effect the way the audience treated the play and the cast. Saturday, Kevin and TIC were the toast of Broadway. Monday morning the press was treating them as if they were the biggest losers to come down Broadway in years. I wondered if the people who had tickets would react the same way. But the audience was very supportive of everyone. People who have seen the show were always commenting on how the audience would clap for Kevin when he makes his entrance. Well, he got a rousing round of applause Monday night from the sold out crowd.
We were sitting towards the back and in the right orchestra seats. The outside doors are to the right, so we walked out of our seats directly into the street and turned to the barricades. My mom and friend were standing right next to the dumpster as they had been instructed to do. My friend had the Hopper cover from A Bug’s Life and my mom had the window card and a gold metallic ink pen. My sister and I were at the opposite barrier with our PLAYBILLS. Plus I had one of my 8×10 glossies in my purse, along with a blue sharpie. We took our positions and waited!
We waved to my mom and friend. We were looking around at the others who were waiting, and my sister noticed a woman standing near us wearing an Old Vic pin, just as I was, but the actors started leaving then and I didn’t have a chance to speak to her. The other actors started to leave, but they look so different, that they were gone before we would realize who they were. I got a picture of Paul Giamatti. And a picture of Clarke Peters.
Robert Sean Leonard signed my window card. It was strange seeing him sign it while I was on the other side of the barrier. I took his picture. Kevin came out of the stage door. He started to walk past my mom and friend, but when he saw my friend standing there with a copy of A Bug’s Life, he stopped to chat. We could see Kevin talking to him and I turned to say something to my sister, and she said “Look, he’s signing your Hopper cover!” So I look over and he’s leaning down signing my video box! I took a picture of Kevin, my friend and my mother. Kevin moved down the row and you should have seen the proud look on my friend’s face. We were talking about that and my sister said “Now he’s signing your poster!” I couldn’t believe it. The woman near my sister commented on that cute kid over there talking to Kevin Spacey and getting his autograph. My sister said he’d been planted there. Who could resist a cute kid with his Hopper cover? The woman said she wished she’d thought of that!
Kevin moved down the row chatting and signing, and then came over to our side. My heart started pounding. There was a larger crowd on our side of the barrier and I think it made Kevin nervous. He was smiling and signing and letting people have their pictures taken with him, but was very quiet. I don’t recall him speaking to anyone, and my sister said she didn’t think so either. He might have talked to some of the girls who were near the wall, but I can’t be sure.
He was suddenly in front of me and he took the glossy I was holding out and started to sign it, and noticed that I was holding a blue Sharpie, took that from me and signed my picture, placed the cap back on, and handed them both back to me. I said that the show was incredible and he gave me a smile and moved to the girl next to me. My sister said to tell everyone that I saw his dimple up close. My friend said that wasn’t his dimple, it was a wrinkle. I say it was his scar that turns into a dimple when he smiles.
The girls standing near us had their pictures taken with him. He put his arm around a girl near me, and his hand was on her back and I thought, there is his hand, right in front of my face. I was about to lose my cool and he left. One of the guards started to grab the girl’s hand but stopped when he noticed it was just a hand and nothing more sinister.
Some time during this Tony Danza came out. I don’t know if he came out before Kevin or after. He signed my poster and spoke briefly to my mother. As soon as Kevin left, the crowd and security left, so my mom and friend came over, and my friend walked over to the group of people around Tony Danza and got his autograph on my sister’s PLAYBILL®. So I walked around the barrier, went up to him and he signed my program, and hands it back to me, looks me right in the eye and says thanks for coming! Tony Danza is quite attractive up close. Although short. My friend hands me my Hopper cover and Kevin has signed it ..To Lisa With Thanks K. Spacey !! I was shocked. My mom said that my friend told him the cover was for someone else and she told him it was for her daughter who was seeing the play and was a member of his fan club and had contributed to the theater restoration project (Old Vic pin) he was involved in. She said he told her to “tell Lisa thank you very much.” And then when he signed the poster the pen leaked and he told her to tell her daughter that he was sorry she had a leaky pen. All this was going on and we didn’t have a clue. They actually had a conversation with him!! Too bad he’d clammed up by the time he got over to the other side.
Well, my heart was pounding about then. I have three autographs and each one is different. The window card has a very nice Tony Danza signed on it. And a lovely Robert Sean Leonard signature. Kevin’s name has an ink blob plus 3 gold droplets with a 3 or 4 inch ink run but that’s all right with me! Kevin was pressing down too hard with the pen. Very intense guy. T’d used the pen, as did RSL and I’ve been using that same pen in my scrapbooks for nearly two years and have never had a leak. Don’t think the problem was my pen, Kevin hon.
My sister let our friend keep her PLAYBILL® with Tony Danza’s autograph. We went back to the hotel and had a late dinner from a fast food place. The next morning we went to FAO Schwarz and Tiffany’s, but didn’t buy anything and then came home.
When I was putting my photos in my scrapbook, I noticed that one picture had the stage door open and the hand pushing the door open had a very distinctive thumb and was holding a Sharpie. And so many fans had reported that Kevin was so sweet because he always came out the door without having a pen to use. He seemed to think that someone that was there that night was waiting for him.
We also had a shot of the light bulb changer’s feet.
Once the play ended in July I wrote short letters to the TIC actors who’s addresses I’d found on the Portraits of an Enigma site. Michael Emerson sent me a very gracious note in reply. Tim Pigott-Smith was nice enough to put his autograph on the back of the note he sent me. I’d mentioned that the actors had left the theater so fast that people weren’t able to get their autographs. He was very nice. I also had a reply from Robert Sean Leonard.
I hope you enjoyed my story.