Close encounters of the stage door kind

Edited to add an interview with Annie Funke and this video from TheaterMania with interviews with the cast of If There Is as well as celebs at the opening night

I like to read about the play from Annie’s perspective.

The story revolves around Anna’s parents: her father is writing a book on the environment and her mother who is teaching her students how to put on a play; tellingly, it is “The War of the Worlds.” Throw in George’s brother Terry, a romantic drifter who drinks and smokes pot, and the drama unfolds in unexpected ways. Terry becomes allied with Anna, who responds to his overtures as would a neglected child. Terry becomes a confidant and purveyor of advice that needy Anna soaks up like a thirsty ficus.

“I think Anna wants to be really seen by someone, and Terry sees her for the first time,” Funke said. “They both have anger issues that they don’t express very well and they have something that the other wants.” Terry wants to be taken seriously; Anna wants to be loved. It’s a complicated relationship, she said.

“Anna wants desperately to have someone love her and from her perspective, Terry leads her on,” Funke said. “He becomes a figure in her life she never had before. Even though it’s ambiguous, it’s also a loving and delicate relationship.

Funke drew on her own experiences being bullied to really get into the head of her character. “I have very specific experiences that I remember that help me take on the mind-set of Anna,” said Funke, now in her 20s. “It’s interesting to revisit these things with an adult’s perspective.” 


Audience members puzzled by the meaning of the play’s title aren’t the only ones, Funke said. The actors had a chance to think about the title’s meaning in a group exercise. “I think the title means something different to every person,” she said. “For George it might mean, ‘Is there a way for humans to survive ecological disaster?’ Or for Anna, ‘Is there a way for me to be seen as I really am?’ There’s no happy ending, it just makes you ask more questions.”

One moment in the final scene with Terry and Anna, standing on what looks like the bow of a ship, (Titanic references are plentiful throughout the play) ended in unexpected laughter during one show. “Either the second or third preview we were standing on the top level and I had a bag over my shoulder and it flew down to the water-drenched stage,” Funke said. “The audience laughed and we laughed and it was just an organic moment.”

Read more on BroadwayWorld

Back to the original post.

Is there still somebody who honestly believes that Jake Gyllenhaal is not kind and generous to his fans? Six weeks after his stage debut at the Laura Pels Theatre in New York and he is still this relaxed and forthcoming

Unless you are expecting that he chats amiably for ten minutes with each and every one of his fans any given day, that is.

In my previous post I added one of the shots of people taking pictures with Jake from outside the theater.

This one

Shortly after I publicized the post I got an e-mail from a very lovely lady. She thought I was the one who took this picture (it’s not my turn, yet! but soon, very soon!) and asked me if I had others from that same day cause unfortunately she didn’t manage to get one with Jake. She nicely authorized me to share this bit of her e-mail. Thank you, R.!

“I am actually in the picture you posted.  I saw the play the same day and I am the woman in the flowered shirt right next to the woman taking her picture with Jake.

When Jake took his picture with me, my friend who was taking the picture with my camera was kind of bumbling around and Jake looked right at me and said “Did he get it”.  Very nice of him. I said it would be fine, but, unfortunately, my friend did NOT get the picture.  I was bummed but at least it created a nice moment with Jake.”
I asked her if she enjoyed the play and she said something very nice about Annie Funke. I often wondered how Annie feels about the focus being all on Jake:
“I loved the play.  I know the reviews have been mixed, but I absolutely loved it. [snip] After I saw the play, I read so much about how it is about the environment, but I actually found that environmental part to be the side subject and the family to be the main subject.  It’s interesting that when I read about comments that Jake makes about the play he always focuses on the family aspect as well. 
Annie Funke was absolutely amazing.  I was sorry that I never saw her after the play.  Too much focus on Jake but I would love to have her autograph as well.”
Later that day, Susan, aka Cosmic Twins Media (faithful reader, commentator and blogger!) posted in a comment here an account of her own Jake close encounter. We later realized that she was there the same day as the lovely lady who sent me that e-mail and that she actually could spot her hubby in the picture. Nice coincidence. Thanks to Susan for allowing me to put her story in the post.
“When was that photo of Jake posing with fans outside the theater taken? I think I WAS THERE in the crowd! I can just see what looks like my husband’s bald head where he was stationed at the rail. If it is from the day I was there, I’m not visible in the photo – I’m behind Jake after already having obtained his autograph. It was an amazing day – we had seen the play two weeks before but I failed to capitalize on my opportunity to get an autograph that time. So my darling husband, who must really, really love me, took me all the way back to NYC to wait outside the theater for another chance.We witnessed Jake’s infamous “smoke break” as the play was being performed. I was polite (again) and didn’t even walk over to the barricade while he was enjoying his break. Three other girls did and were asked to remove themselves to a greater distance by security. I think Jake stared at me for a while (I can’t blame him as I was staring at him first). After he went back inside, the first three girls, me, and another girl (who happened to be from London, England) started chatting and decided it was time to claim our positions at the barricade rail, even though it would be at least another half hour or more before the play would end. All five of us had seen the play before that day and were back for a second chance at a close encounter. I was smart this time – I stood at the barricade right next to the gap where theater patrons exited. We waited for quite some time and finally people started to come out. A lot of them didn’t know why there was a crowd gathering and then would inevitably realize that we were waiting for Mr. Gyllenhaal to emerge and get his autograph and photo. I’m not even sure how big the crowd was behind me, I didn’t even turn around to look. I was just intent on not losing my spot and trying not to get too tongue-tied.Happily, I was successful on both counts!When he came out he started signing for people waiting on the short end of the barricade just on the other side of the “gap” where I was waiting. When he got to me I had my photo of Officer Brian Taylor and my pen ready. Eye contact with him nearly did me in, but I managed to find my voice and told him the play was “wonderful.” He thanked me and moved on to the next person. It was one of those weird occasions when time slows down and 30 seconds can feel like an hour. During my hour with Jake, I got the distinct impression that he remembered me from two weeks earlier when he borrowed my pen to sign an autograph for someone else who pushed in front of me. He continued down the line and I became aware of the noise from the crowd behind me. There was quite a frenzy of people trying to get to him, but he was so cool and relaxed the entire time. A girl next to me asked if he would autograph her t-shirt and he just laughed. She did not get an autograph but had to settle for a photo with him. He came back up the line and as he passed by me I reached out and stroked his arm and thanked him again. He smiled and said “thank you” to me again – he was constantly saying thank you to everyone who was complimenting him on the play or End of Watch or anything else. When the temporary paralysis lifted (I was rooted to the spot from gazing into those heavenly blue eyes!) the crowd had started to disperse and I suddenly remembered that I had a husband somewhere nearby.

He caught up with me and made me confess that I had gotten what I came for and there was no need to drive all the way back to NYC again for another autograph. It was quite an overwhelming experience and I had to sit on the brick ledge across from the theater entrance for a few minutes to take it all in. As I was sitting there, my husband pointed out another lady sitting nearby being consoled by her husband. She was crying. My husband explained to me that she was upset because she had not been lucky enough to get Jake’s autograph. I hope her husband will bring her back to the theater and try again. It is so worth the effort!”

From this lucky lady:
Saw “If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet” today, it was amazing. Such a beautiful and sad story that truly hit home. I cried my eyes out during the bathtub scene… Jake did a great job as did Annie Funke. She was so nice and humble! I told her “You are beautiful” and she looked at me and said “You too”. Jake, I wanted to make him laugh so I said “nice beard” and it worked like magic! ❤
I love hearing these stories.

22 thoughts on “Close encounters of the stage door kind

  1. They are soooooooo lucky!! I failed to get photo with jake after I watched the play on oct. 4th. I left around 9:30pm and thought him won’t out for signing. What a pity! This maybe the only chance to me since I live in china and it is not easy for me to visit New York.

    • Oh I’m so sorry Likemonalisa! But at least you got to see him on stage, did you like the play? I would love to hear about it! Whoa, did you fly to New York from China ‘only’ to see Jake?! here’s what I call a fan! 😉

      • Yes, I flight from china to see his play. I think I’m a little bit too crazy @_@ I enjoyed the play, it’s very funny and intense. Jake did a fantastic job, so does Anne. Actually, all of 4 casts were great. By the way, I watched eow 4 times during my trip. I l.o.v.e it!! Too bad I have to leave and back to china today 😦
        And love all yr posts and videos, tks a lot!!

      • Likemonalisa, that’s true commitment! I wish Jake knew what his fans do for him, he should feel very, very flattered. I’m glad you liked that play and boy, you watched EOW 4 times on the flight? Cool!!!! 🙂

        Safe trip back then, thanks for stopping by!

      • sorry I didn’t make myself clear, I meant I watched eow in theater 4 times during my trip. anyway, it’s a really nice experience to me. watch him doing live performance. he is really great on stage!

      • LOL Thanks, I probably misunderstood. Everybody agrees that he’s an excellent Terry. I’m happy for you, you’ve brought home a pretty amazing experience.

  2. Thanks for these encounters! Behind each is a great story and excitement. Writing it on October13th, I know that a play will continue till Christmas. Oh, to be able to go! I’m thrilled by the fact, how Jake’s fans are ready to travel to see him live on stage. He should have free flights for increasing passengers numbers. The same with hotels and restaurants. So many people go to NYC because he’s there. I wonder if he realises that! If I had money, I would go for sure! Gyllen, have the best time today!

  3. This might be a dumb question, but does Jake perform at both the 2pm and 7.30pm shows?? Does he typically come out after both or?? Sorry if these questions are dumb, I am flying to New York from Australia in a few weeks so I am going on the 24th of November to see the play so obviously I want to make sure I get the best Gyllenhaal experience possible! haha 🙂

    • Hi, not a dumb question at all. Yes, Jake performs both shows and he generally comes out after the evening show. I hope you have a nice Gyllenhaal experience, I can tell you that it’s worth flying to NYC for it. Have a good trip and come back here to share your story, I’d be glad to hear all about it!

  4. Hey! I know this is a few years too late, but I’m from Australia and been a huge fan for 12 years! heading to Jakes play on broadway in January. Im going on the friday night but if i dont get out to the stage door quick enough i have two other nights to get there. Any tips?!

    • Hey Sam!

      Thanks for stopping by, I’m amazed someone is still reading, what with the awfully long hiatus and all.

      Anyway, Jake usually takes some time to shower and change clothes before exiting from the stage door so don’t worry, you have all the time to get out and join the line.

      I’ll go in January too, see you there! *winks*

      Good luck

      • Awesome thankyou! I’ll be seeing the show on the 16th and heading back to the door on the 17th and 18th if I don’t get what I want the first nights 😉

        Do you think we would have to get there an hour early or earlier to get a good spot?!?!

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