Hey there! It’s me, Heidi.
Ok. Let’s get real here, y’all. I want to talk about something today that may give me the black mark of nerddom forever, but I don’t care because I love it: BROADWAY FAN MAIL. It’s no secret that I’m a mega Broadway nerd. (Whaaaaat? You’re a mega Broadway nerd? We had no idea!) Yes, it’s true. I’m a really big one. I’m such a big Broadway nerd that I actually collect playbills. What are playbills you ask? You know those booklets they hand you when you walk into a show that tells you about all the actors, and the creative team, and the outline of the show, and the musical numbers, and sometimes other articles about Broadway related things? That is a playbill.
See that picture up above? That’s me with a very small selection of my favorite Broadway playbills. I have binders and binders and binders of them that I keep in little individual plastic sleeves to protect my precious(es?) at all costs. Have an empty spot on the shelf? There’s a playbill binder there now. Hurricane’s a comin’ and we have to evacuate? Pack the playbill binders. Got any party tricks, Heidi? Does showing you my playbill collection count? Some may call it a sickness. Some may call it weird. I call it happiness and joy and sunshine and rainbows and love and memories and super fandom.
But, Heidi. How did you get so damned many playbills? Well guys… here’s the thing. I not only collect playbills from the shows I have seen myself. Oh, no. It gets much nerdier. I also grab a few playbills that have been left behind after a show is over and use those to… wait for it… TRADE with other collectors for playbills from some of my favorite shows or shows that my favorite Broadway actors and actresses have been in. I’m in several groups on the Facebooks where all people do is trade playbills in all our weirdo glory.
I also… loudly and proudly… write FAN MAIL. Yep. You read that correctly. I’m a 29 year old professional (or so I like to think) fan girl. I write fan mail for several reasons.
A) There’s so much negativity in this world right now, and actors and actresses work really freaking hard at what they do, so I think it’s nice to spread a little sunshine on their day and let them know that despite the fact that arts funding is being cut left and right (honestly, don’t get me started on that), I appreciate them and think that their work is so incredibly important and beautiful.
B) Stage managers, y’all. These people are the beasts of the theatre. They make literally everything happen. Without stage managers, the show doesn’t happen. They work their behinds off and are hardly recognized, so I like to write to them and give them a sort of pat on the back and reminder that they are also doing work that is so incredibly important and beautiful even though it may not feel like it.
C) Writing Broadway fan mail is quite honestly the best way that I have found to get playbills from shows that I really love, but won’t be able to see in person. It’s way more direct and efficient than trading with people. While I do love a good trade, I have been taken advantage of in the past. I also can sometimes find something on eBay, but that’s a whole different topic altogether.
That brings us to what I wanted to talk to you guys about today: THE DOS AND DON’TS OF BROADWAY FAN MAIL.
DO: Write to actors, actresses, and stage managers respectfully requesting a signed (or unsigned depending on what you’d prefer) playbill. You’ve got to ask. If you send a letter asking nothing in return, they won’t know what you want. It’s ok to ask, but ask nicely.
DO: Compliment actors, actresses, and stage managers in your letter by telling them how much they and their show mean to you and that you appreciate all of the work that they do.
DO: Use 9 x 6 envelopes to send both your letter and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) so that it is super, super easy for the stage manager to send you something back. The last thing you want to do is inconvenience him/her in any way. You’ll need two 9 x 6 envelopes per piece of fan mail. One SASE that you will put with your letter into the other envelope.
DO: Make sure you either use enough stamps or that you go to your post office to have them weigh your mail for you so it actually makes it to the theatre and back to you. I typically use 3 stamps on both the outer envelope AND the SASE that I’m hoping to have returned to me with a playbill inside.
DO: Let the recipient of your mail know how much you will cherish your playbill and why having one would mean the world to you. (Sidenote: some people write letters only to turn around and sell their signed playbill for a butt ton of money. NOT COOL.)
DO: Handwrite your letter. Nothing is more impersonal than getting a letter that could’ve easily been copy/pasted to every other stage manager and/or cast member. Handwriting makes a letter special, and shows that you care and appreciate them enough to take the time to write something very personal.
DO: Send fan art and small gifts to your favorite cast members! Who doesn’t love a bit of fun appreciation in their life?
DON’T: Assume that you are going to get something back. Broadway is a busy place with a lot happening, and the number one priority of the cast and crew is to put on a show, not to send you a playbill. Although it is extremely awesome to get something in return, you are not entitled to anything.
DON’T: Send multiple letters requesting something if you don’t get anything back from the first letter you sent. First, it’s annoying. Second, again… the cast and crew have more important things to do than send you a playbill. And, actually, sometimes they are intending to send you something and it just takes a while. I’ve gotten playbills back over two months after I sent my letter. Be patient.
DON’T: Send food items to the theatre. You never know if someone has a specific allergy or meal plan that they have to follow. Also… didn’t your mom ever tell you to never take candy from a stranger and to cover your drink? Yeah, their moms did, too.
DON’T: Forget to send your SASE with your letter. You definitely won’t get anything back if you forget that.
DON’T: Request multiple playbills. If your friend or whoever else also wants a playbill, they can write their own letter.
DON’T: Be rude. This seems like an obvious thing, but you really want to take special care in making sure everything in your letter is positive and uplifting so that there’s not even the slightest chance of you sounding demanding.
Here’s just some additional information I thought you might like to have:
- I address the letters to the theatre like this………
c/o Show Title
ATTN: Stage Manager (or Cast Member’s Name)
City, State Zip Code
- I buy my 9 x 6 envelopes at Office Depot. You can get a box of 100 for $14.99. That’s 50 letters you can send out (remember you need two for each letter… one is your SASE and one is what you mail your letter and your SASE in).
- I’ve used both notecards and spiral notebook paper to send letters. The cards are a really nice touch, but I tend to write quite a bit and there’s usually not enough space. I use spiral notebook paper and colored pens to add a little brightness.
- I tend to write a bunch of Broadway fan mail all at one time and send them off together because, while it is time consuming, I really like the result of periodically getting a surprise envelope back in the mail with a playbill inside. I send them all out and then they come back to me at random. It’s really fun!
And that’s all she wrote for today, folks! This is what I love about blogging… I can be all professional and “normal” at work, and then I get to come here on the Interwebs with you and release the geek. And let’s be real… the geek is way more fun than the “normals,” amiright?
I hope everyone has a good night, an even better Friday, and that you remember to be yourself, share your passions with others, and never be ashamed of your quirks.
BROADWAY FREAKS UNITE!!!
Until next time,
P.S. Thanks to my amazing friend Jess (owner and artist at http://www.jessicareneephotography.com/) for taking these pictures of me! Luh you, boo 😉
P.P.S. If you have any more specific questions about Broadway fan mail or collecting playbills, drop me a comment or send me a message and I’ll get back to you ASAP!