What were you doing in 1995? Cynthia’s Story *UPDATED*

Hello all! Damianista here. Welcome to Fan Story Tuesday!

We are publishing Cynthia’s story for a second time today because we have LOVELY updates to share! ENJOY!

copright: Cynthia Canty

Those of you from Michigan may know Cynthia from her program Stateside on Michigan Radio, part of the NPR digital network. Cynthia has had work experience in radio and TV for more than 35 years.  She has been a popular radio host, a TV news anchor, producer and a medical and consumer reporter. She has won a number of awards for her writing and reporting — including an Emmy! And, in addition to all this, Cynthia is a Damian Lewis fan. Big thanks go to her for being one of the first to respond to our call for fan stories and sharing this very special story.

Without further ado: What were YOU doing in 1995? This is Cynthia’s story.

When I say that I’ve been a fan of Damian Lewis & his work for a long time, I come by that honestly.

In June 1995, I traveled, along with three friends, to New York City with one goal in mind: to see the Almeida Theatre production of Hamlet, starring Ralph Fiennes. It was playing a limited-run at the Belasco Theatre on West 44th in NYC.

copyright: Cynthia Canty

The show we saw the night of June 10th, 1995 was absolutely stunning. Ralph Fiennes was a wonderfully brooding Hamlet, Francesca Annis was Gertrude, Tara Fitzgerald was Ophelia. Amidst this stellar cast, my friend Susan and I couldn’t stop focusing on the long-haired “ginger” playing Laertes. He was great in the role and, we both agreed, “The ginger is HOT!”.

Yes, it was Damian Lewis.

We went back the next afternoon for Playbill autographs from the cast after the Sunday matinee. Damian had a gash on his hand from a sword-fight scene that went a bit awry. He politely signed our Playbills and then hopped on his bicycle and headed down the street.

copyright: Cynthia Canty
Cynthia’s friend Susan asks Damian to sign a vintage book she bought earlier that day. In Cynthia’s words: “He gave her a puzzled look and then gamely signed it.”

The next time I saw him was September 9, 2001. The night HBO premiered its mini-series Band of Brothers. I knew little about who was going to be in the cast, only that it focused on fighting World War Two in the European Theatre–one of my historical passions.

And–A-HA! Who’s starring as Lt. Dick Winters? The “hot ginger from Hamlet”!

In no time at all, I stopped thinking about the “hot ginger” as I was completely won over by the way Damian Lewis brought the young Dick Winters to life.

It was kind of cool being able to talk about the show with friends and astonish them by announcing that yes, the actor who plays Dick Winters is doing a helluva good American accent… because he is a BRIT! People were astonished. And I smiled when he accepted his Emmy for Homeland by announcing, in his real accent, “I’m one of those pesky Brits.”

The entire BOB cast did great justice to Easy Company of the 506th PIR. It has been great seeing them turn up in so many different films and TV productions.

As for Damian, I’ve continued to be a fan… through The Forsyte Saga, Life, Homeland, Wolf Hall, Billions and more. Each role brings even more reason to admire his acting talent.

Damian Lewis – 20 years after Cynthia’s first meeting with him 🙂

And it makes me happy to know that I twigged on to this incredible actor more than 21 years ago!

Damianista’s note, 10/31/2017: Cynthia, 22 years after she “discovered” Damian on Broadway, met her favorite actor again, this time on West End, after seeing him in The Goat, or who is Sylvia? Massive thanks go to her for sharing her new story along with lovely pictures from stage door <3 ENJOY!

“I had been reading (on your blog & elsewhere) that Damian Lewis was going to star in a production in the West End. At the same time, we were planning a family vacation to London: husband, daughter and yours truly.
Somehow in late March, a light went on in my head: “Hey, what are the dates for The Goat Play?” And to my delight, it fit perfectly with the dates of our trip. I picked a night, got myself a great seat in row 7.
copyright: Cynthia Canty
On the night of the play, I took myself to the theatre while husband & daughter were in a sports bar across the street watching a Manchester United match. Everybody happy.
They headed over afterwards to wait in the perimeter while I waited in the meet & greet line at the stage door. Had to wait quite a while! Got to say hello & thanks to the rest of the “Fab Four” and finally Damian came out. And both my husband and daughter grabbed those photos of my moment with Damian. (that’s my husband just over Damian’s shoulder with cell phone camera blazing!)
copyright: Cynthia Canty
As he signed my program, I said, “The last time you signed a program for me was at the Belasco in June ’95. And then you hopped on your bike and headed off down the street.”
“DID I?”, he cracked. “What kind of bike?”
“A very serviceable one!”
copyright: Cynthia
As we’ve seen from other peoples’ stage door accounts, he gave everyone some time even though I can only imagine how good it would have felt to call it a night and head home. That role of Martin must have been emotionally and physically draining!
 22 years means a young supporting actor heading off on a bike was now a West End star with a luxury car waiting to whisk him home. But he was still gracious enough to take time for the fans. Coupled with stellar performances, it was an unforgettable night of theatre!

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

12 thoughts on “What were you doing in 1995? Cynthia’s Story *UPDATED*”

  1. What a good story of opportunities taken! Two lovely stage door stories. Thanks, Cynthia! I love the first photo. I look at your clothes and hair – yep 90s 😉

    1. Wasn’t it, though! That was my signature look in the mid-90s. The night of the show, I dressed up in a cream suit with cream pumps, ivory hose. I must have looked like a giant drop of milk walking up Fifth Avenue afterwards! 😉

      1. Aw I’m sure you were lovely! Style is fun. I loved my upside down triangle ‘80s profile as well. Can’t be judgey about the past. Tomorrow will soon be here.

  2. Thank you so much, Cynthia, for sharing your story!
    For a “late” fan like me (I’m from the after Homeland fan – hatchery 😀 ), it’s amazing ‘to meet’ someone who has seen that Almeidas’ Hamlet on Broadway! I wonder how many like you were then caught by the hot ginger Laertes <3 How I wish I have seen that ebullient young Damian on stage too! I saw The Goat too. You’re absolutely right; playing Martin must have been emotionally and physically draining! He is really an incredible actor! And his graciosity toward fans is beyond words! I was at the stage door after the final performance. It was really late, yet he spend more than twenty minutes or more taking pictures and chatting with everybody.
    Thanks for the lovely pictures too <3 His handwriting was more readable then 😀

    “What kind of bike?” 😀 Gotta love him!

    BTW I'm almost sure that I saw him one night hurtling fast and furiously 😀 on a bicycle, crossing my way out from work. My work is at the street that is just opposite the theater. Whether it was he or not, this West End star is not far from that young supporting actor. 🙂

    Best wishes to you and to your family!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Tsvetanka. I’m delighted to be able to lay claim to being among his first cohort of US fans. It was a case of “Came for Ralph Fiennes, stayed for Damian Lewis”. It is heartening to know that there are stars who take those few minutes to make fans feel recognized & appreciated. Doesn’t cost a penny but it sure builds a loyal audience for your work, doesn’t it!

  3. Aaaah, so envious but happy for you! In 1995 I had only been married three years and was putting together my own theatre career on a MUCH smaller scale. I was sooooo enamored of Fiennes and Irons and all the break out Brits at that time. I’m sure I would have also been attracted to that ginger Laertes! OMG he looks sooo intense in that photo! How wonderful for you to have seen Damian twice onstage!

    And Notlinda, I’ll see your Liz Claiborne and raise you a Gloria Vanderbilt…no wait! A Donna Karan! Nooooo, a Laura Ashley! (I still own a sailor dress of her design!)

      1. In high school I worked at a boutique that had an amazing Kamali dress I wanted sooooo bad. This was 1982 and the price was a fortune to me at that time. Shoulder pads and long sweeping skirt. Got to admit some of those fashions were very flattering to a normal body shape. I still think about that dress. 😀

        1. Remember shoulder pad build-up? When you wore your padded jacket over your padded sweater and don’t even think about wearing your coat! I’d better stop, I can’t think of any way to link this conversation to Damian Lewis %-)

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