How TDF Member Joanne Zammit Became a Stage Door Jane
Wednesday, June 24, 2015  •  
Wed Jun 24, 2015  •  
Meet the Member  •   5 comments Share This
"When I met John Raitt, I could hardly stand up"
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

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Benjamin Moeling said:
What a pleasure (but not a surprise) to see that Ms. Zammit is still giving back to the community even after retirement! She was a tough and inspiring teacher to me, and many others, 30+ years ago - a teacher who instilled a lifelong love of, and tools to appreciate, books and language. I'm still grateful.
Posted on 6/27/2015 at 10:04 AM
Mark Blankenship, Stages Editor said:
Hi Benjamin -- So glad to hear that she was such an inspiration!
Posted on 6/29/2015 at 11:31 AM
Harriet Solomon said:
hey Cuz!!!! What a treat to read about your love of theater. Keep it up. Maybe one of these days we'll come to NY and wait at a stage door with you!! - Your cousin in NC.
Posted on 7/3/2015 at 12:14 PM
Sam Ellias said:
You can take the woman out of the school but not the school out of the woman! We've been to the zoo many times with Joanne and she's always still teaching to anyone who'll listen! Great person and great friend!
Posted on 7/13/2015 at 12:27 PM
Louise Davies said:
Like the comment above from Ben, I remember Mrs Zammit from seventh and eighth grade English. I loved her for her demanding the best from us She made me feel known and appreciated, such an important quality in a teacher. The kids at the Bronx Zoo are lucky to have her there.
Posted on 3/26/2017 at 12:26 PM
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