The Fantastical John McManus
An attempt at a sombre expression in his headshot is undermined by a warm twinkle in the eyes. Every character on his winding list a smiler or a madman.
- from 'John' in At The Stage Door
Offstage, John is just such an angel - full of enthusiasm and warmth. He was always the first to pull us in for a hug and to stop to chat with us if he saw us before a show - one time when Liz and I went up to Edinburgh to see him in Sunshine On Leith, we were having lunch in the theatre cafe and he happened to walk past and spot us there (the theatre was glass-fronted) and he came right in and sat down and talked to us for a good half-hour about everything from what the new cast of Cats were up to to what his family were up to. He's just so kind and so funny - he has such a big heart and, though he plays at the odd catty comment and eye-roll, you would honestly be hard-pushed to find somehow lovelier. When I first went to see him in Top Hat, it had been a long time since I had seen him last and a part of me was worried he wouldn't remember me, but then when he saw me at stage door he was just as warm as ever, full of hugs and questions as to what I was up to. He couldn't get over how much I'd grown and it was so sweet having him fuss over me - "Look at you, all grown up!" - and I was so happy to see him again. John was just the same back in the Cats days though, always so willing to chat and to fuss over us and look after us, worrying about how cold or how hot we were getting standing out at stage door! One time, when we went to see him in Doctor Dolittle, he invited us backstage and gave us a little tour, even taking photos with us on the stage and giving the most hilarious running commentary on the weird and wonderful stage set-up for the show; every experience with John is sort of a fantastical whirlwind in that way and it's something so unique to him, that kind of wild warmth. He is also one of the most quoteable people I've ever met, and came up with some true gems that I still quote at random sometimes!
In our time together, you claimed a special place in my heart. One I’ll carry with me forever and that no one can ever replace.
— Nicholas Sparks, Dear John