Beth Ackelson is leaning over the police barricades with her Fuji disposable camera, waiting for Rosie O'Donnell. "We know she'll be here. Oh my god, this is great!"
Ackelson is in New York with a theatre group, which has scheduled nine shows, including Rent, which she'll be seeing later tonight. But Scarlet Pimpernel is special.
"I bought the album, the one with Linda Eder -- I just saw her go in the [stage door]! -- and I loved the songs. I had to see the show. And I've got to tell you, this is the best show we've seen."
She's immediately behind the press photographers, and whenever a celebrity steps up to an explosion of flashes and strobes, Ackelson's is among them. "I got Sidney Poitier, Robert Cuccioli -- I saw him in Jekyll & Hyde two times! Oh my God, the people I'm with are dying. We just love him! I just saw Terrence Mann walk in! I'm in awe!"
So what does she like about The Scarlet Pimpernel?
"The guy who plays the Pimpernel [Douglas Sills]. He's fantastic. His acting was just as good as his singing. It also doesn't hurt that he's really good looking. Oh my God! Charlie Sheen!"
She takes another picture.
"I just saw Neil Simon, too! He let us take a picture with him. He teased me that it would cost $1.50."
So that's how Beth Ackelson came to Broadway and got her own personal Neil Simon joke.
"Oh my God, is that great?"
-- By Robert Viagas