End of stage door autographs as Spider-Man star only pauses briefly for photos

BankingMay 30, 2024 /idopress/

Traffic comes to a standstill and fans line the street for Tom Holland

Credit: JUPA/Copyright © 2024 BACKGRID UK

The arrival of film star Tom Holland in the West End for a new production of Romeo and Juliet has already been greeted with a sell-out first run,a five star review in The Telegraph and a comparison to “Beatlemania”.

As fans flock to the Duke of York’s Theatre to catch a glimpse of their idol,there is just one thing missing: the stage door autograph.

An estimated 500 admirers who gathered behind metal barriers on St Martin’s Lane to cheer for Holland were told there would be “no signings or selfies” from the star,and were advised not to chase his car.

Instead,Holland has opted for a stage door appearance to suit a new generation,as he stands to smile and wave each night to allow crowds to get their all-important social media videos and pictures before disappearing for his journey home.

Photographs of the scene outside the theatre show hundreds of fans,mostly young women,lining the street with their phones aloft.

Barriers have been erected directly outside the theatre,while high-vis-wearing security keep those on the other side of the road on the pavement.

One theatre-goer said they had “never seen anything like it”,as pavements were blocked by fans who were - despite their numbers - described as calm,happy and following the instructions of the security.

They were told by a security guard: “There will be no signings or selfies. And please,whatever you do,don’t chase the car.”

Representatives for the production were unavailable for comment about the measures put in place.

If crowd sizes become easier to manage,it is thought Holland and the theatre may change their approach as the 12-week run continues.

A succession of social media videos show a casually dressed Holland leaving the stage door and spending about 10 seconds waving to crowds.

In each,he turns obligingly three times to face fans on both sides of the door,and those directly across the road,before getting into the chauffeur-driven car.

“What was interesting is how well-mannered everyone was,” said one member of the audience of the crowds outside. “Apart from the odd scream,I could hear fans shouting ‘I love you,Tom’. One fan whispered to her friend: ‘Isn’t he handsome?’”

After the first preview of the production,directed by Jamie Lloyd,Holland and his castmates appeared on the theatre balcony to wave and blow kisses to the crowd,shouting: “Thank you so much! We love you all!”

Social media videos show a casually dressed Holland leaving the stage door and spending about 10 seconds waving to crowds

Credit: JUPA/Copyright © 2024 BACKGRID UK

On opening night,he was joined for the walk to and from the car by girlfriend Zendaya,the 27-year-old American actress.

Holland’s casting in the play was hailed as a huge opportunity to entice a new generation to the theatre. He is best known for playing Spider-Man on film.

A five star Telegraph review said: “Eyes rivet,inevitably,to Holland – beefy of bicep,but pale,achingly tender,at times teary and then cheery,all hormonal vulnerability.”

His co-star,Francesca Amewudah-Rivers,who plays Juliet,is making her West End debut,reviewed as “a huge find,by turns understated,coy,comically off-hand,and defiantly passionate”.

Industry insiders have already noticed a move away from the traditional autograph. One leading producer said that “modern life has moved on”,with a signed programme or piece of paper no longer being the souvenir of choice for young people.

Mark Borkowski,a veteran West End publicist,said: “So many people are influencers these days,and to be able to post a picture of themselves with an A lister on their social media platforms means they are going to get a lot more interaction.”

He added that actors also need to generate or perpetuate a social media following in order to be attractive to casting directors.

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