Pose. Flash. Sign.
Rachel Berry took the time greet and smile at everyone who was crowded around the barricades that separated them from the stage door exit. To someone like Madonna or Britney or Hannah Montana, the group of thirty or so fans clamoring for her autograph probably seemed rather insignificant. But for a Wednesday night performance of a show that had been running for over a decade, Rachel was appreciative of anyone who wanted to see her. She was especially fond of the younger kids who reminded her of herself on those seasonal trips she took with her dads to check out the latest Broadway shows.
One little voice, in particular, caught her attention.
"Miss Berry! Miss Berry!"
She traced the shouts back to a young girl, probably eight or so, with her Playbill clutched tightly in one hand and a Sharpie in the other.
"Well, hello." Rachel took the pen and program from her out-stretched hands. "What's your name, sweetie?"
"Maddy. I mean, Madison. Madison Fabray."
The pen slipped across the page in her hand and Rachel worried she'd just ruined the girl's program. "Madison what?"
Rachel make quick work of the ink slip and quickly turned the random line into a broomstick, then passed it back to Madison. She took a long, hard look at the small blond girl in the "Defy Gravity" t-shirt, then shifted her eyes to the woman standing closest to her. It was a stocky Puerto Rican woman.
The breath pushed itself out of Rachel's lungs and she realized she'd been holding it in. The crowd dispersed as the security guard waved them away. Madison clung to the metal barrier, in an attempt to savor as much time standing near the Broadway star as possible. She turned to flag down someone behind her.
"Mom! I got it!" She waved the Playbill in the air. "You should come up here!" She turned back to Rachel. "She didn't want to get squished by all the people. I don't care so much about that."
Rachel just nodded, her eyes on the woman who now approached the railing.
"Quinn?" She looked down at Madison. "So, she really is..."
Quinn nodded. "She's a bit of an Oz junkie. When she found out I went to school with Elphaba, she begged me every day for a week to come see the show."
Madison beamed up at Rachel. "You're even prettier up close and in person. And not green."
Rachel smiled. "Well, thank you."
Madison's eyes lit up. "Will you sign my ticket, too?
"Maddy, honey," Quinn eyed the impatient looking security guard, I'm sure Miss Berry has things to do."
"It'll just take a second, Mom."
"It's fine." Rachel took the ticket stub, signed it, then frowned. "You were all the way up in the mezzanine?"
Madison shrugged. "That's all we could get."
"Well, Miss Madison, that is unacceptable." Rachel leaned down closer to the girl. "How long are you in town?"
"Till Saturday. Then I have to go to stinky Aunt Mary's house in Connecticut."
"Madison!" Quinn's tone was pure maternal reprimand.
"Tell you what, if it's okay with your mom, you come back tomorrow and tell them you're here for the Very Berry special."
Madison's eyes went wide. "Really? Oh, can we, Mom? PUH-LEASE say yes?"
Quinn bounced her glance from Rachel to her daughter then back to Rachel. "If I don't, I'm sure you'll make me feel like I clipped the wings off a flying monkey."
"Is that a yes?"
Madison squealed. "Thank you, Mom! Thank you, Miss Berry!"
"Musical theatre is meant to be experienced, not viewed from afar like some kind of eclipse."
By this point, the crowd was gone and the security guard held the door open for Rachel. He looked at his watch.
"You should stop by again, after the show." Rachel was looking at Madison, but the message was directed at Quinn.
"We will," Madison answered for herself and her mother.
Rachel disappeared through the stage door, leaving Quinn alone with a very animated and over-joyed pre-tween.