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How TDF Member Joanne Zammit Became a Stage Door Jane

Date: Jun 24, 2015
Welcome to Meet the Member, where TDF members let you know which shows they love.

Today's member:
Joanne Zammit – a TDF member since 2002 and a retired teacher living in Stamford, Connecticut who currently volunteers at the Bronx Zoo.


Emily Travis, Marketing Manager at TDF:
Hello, Joanne! To get started, what have you seen recently?

Joanne Zammit:
I just saw The Audience starring Helen Mirren [who just won a Tony for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II]. It was lovely and she was beautiful. An American in Paris is also wonderful. I have tickets to see The King and I next.

How did you become interested in theatre?

The first time I went to the theatre was on my 13th birthday. I saw John Raitt in Carousel , and I was hooked! John Raitt was my first love. When his character died in Carousel I cried hysterically, and my father said, "I hope you cry this much at my funeral." I loved it. And for a long time after that, I was a Stage Door Jane. I would go to all the stage doors to get autographs. I have quite the collection.

Emily: What are you some of your favorite stage door encounters?

Alan Alda's father, Robert Alda, came out after a show and was trying to call a cab. His wife touched me on the arm and said, "Wait just a moment, honey; as soon as he gets the cab we'll come back and sign the autograph." And he did! One time I waited two hours for Steve Lawrence. He couldn't believe I was still standing in the doorway when he came out. And John Raitt! I got his autograph. My knees shook. I could hardly stand up. My mother was holding my arm so I wouldn't fall down, I was so excited.

Tell me about your time as a teacher. Did you ever integrate theatre into your lessons?

I taught English at a middle school for many years in Greenwich, Connecticut. We took a group of students to a show every year. One of the books we had to read as part of the syllabus was The Miracle Worker, and we would act it out in the classroom. It's hard to explain to children that plays are meant to be seen and not read, especially Shakespeare! You have to act it out, or you miss the jokes and humor. The students worry so much about understanding what they are reading that they forget to enjoy how much fun Shakespeare can be.

And you continue to volunteer with children, yes?

The best thing I ever did was sign up to be a docent at the Bronx Zoo. I lead tours for school kids. I've learned so much about the animals and how to take care of them.

Has your love of animals ever intersected with your passion for theatre?

I was in the play Noah in high school. My sister was working on the show and needed people to play the animals. She roped me into playing a cow! I went to the zoo to watch the cows, and I studied how they stood and moved.


Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Photo courtesy of Joanne Zammit