Sam West in the West End

Chekov was Russian, after all!

Studying in London in 2012, I saw more than 20 theatre productions. After the tickets were bought for the West End production of Uncle Vanya, by Anton Chekov, playing at the Vaudeville Theatre, my friend Lala informed me that we were going to meet Samuel West, one of the actors in the show. A theatre professor from her home institution had previously worked with him and asked him if he would take the time to speak with us. Lovely chap that he is, Mr. West agreed!

So, Lala, Alex, and I went to the theatre for some Chekov-ian entertainment. The show was very intense and well done. Afterwards the three of us found the stage-door. There were the standard fans, waiting to meet whoever came out of the protected area of the theatre, autograph books and cameras poised at the ready. Calmly, we walked right up to the security booth and told the guard, "We're here to see Sam West. He's expecting us." We proceeded to giggle quietly at how cool we sounded, thereby canceling out any coolness factor that might have clung to us.

West appeared and did the whole meet and greet thing. Lala stepped up and introduced us. He immediately shook all of our hands and waved us backstage, bidding everyone else farewell. We followed him down the hallway into his dressing room. Out of everything I was most impressed just at the fact that he had a bed in there. Very posh.

He asked us if we would like anything to drink and I made a joke, "Have you got any vodka?" His character was always taking swigs throughout the show. Chekov was Russian, after all! I just expected him to laugh, but instead he opened the mini-fridge at the foot of his bed and asked which we would prefer. We were too stunned to answer, so he pulled out the stronger of the bottles and poured us each a shot in paper cups. We clinked (or the paper cup noise equivalent) and threw them back.

He asked us about ourselves and our studies. Obviously, everyone in that room appreciated theatre. He offered insight, shared his experiences, nice and casual. West asked us if we would like more shots and then had them poured immediately when he realized that none of the girls wanted to be the first to say "YES!"

Eventually, it was time to go. He walked us to our Tube station, stopping at the stage-door of another theatre we passed to tell a ghost story about an actor who was murdered at that exact spot years ago. We said our goodbyes and parted ways. The whole Tube ride and walk back to school, we were laughing and skipping merrily. The small amount of alcohol we had ingested had little to do with our current states, more based on a "high on life" kind of feeling. I know three young ladies who will always have special places in their hearts for Mr. Samuel West.


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