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Celebrity Casting on Broadway Sparks New Security Measures

By Jaime Prisco j.prisco@classicalite.com on Dec 30, 2014 04:34 PM EST

Casting celebrities in Broadway plays may not be a new idea, but it is definitely a booming industry in recent times. With star like Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, James Franco and other A-listers on stage, theaters have been spending ever more time and money cracking down on flash-happy guests, hecklers and a sea of fans at the stage door.

This increase is now a nightly, traffic-blocking headache for security and police that “only used to happen with, say, [Richard] Burton and [Elizabeth] Taylor,” said longtime theater director Gregory Mosher, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The River, a solemn play starring Jackman, draws so many star-struck, picture-snapping attendees that the production resorted to sending out an understudy before the show to remind them to turn off their phones. In November, Time Out New York published a guide on what not to do at the show, including “Applaud Hugh’s entrance” and “Clap after every scene.”

Similarly, laughter during serious moments occurred during Franco’s run in Of Mice and Men, changing the feel of the Depression-era drama.

“With James Franco in Of Mice and Men, or with Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man, there are large groups of fans of those actors,” said James Calleri, a casting director who worked on both productions.

In many cases, productions are able to happen mainly because of their famous leads.

“For producers, these shows are very expensive to put on, and they want to make sure there is upfront interest,” said director David Leveaux, who led the 2013 production of Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom.

New audiences, however, have new security needs, particularly around the stage door that cast members use to enter and exit the theater. Fans, sometimes ones who did not attend the production, flock to them so that most Broadway stage doors are now flanked by steel barricades. Security is typically coordinated between the theater owner and the production, occasionally with the help of the star’s own personal security. The NYPD focuses on crowd control.

So next time you are at the theater, be sure to steer clear of stage doors.

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Tagsbroadway, James Franco, Of Mice and Men, Emma Stone, Huge Jackman, The River, Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man