Diehard fans get up close and personal with the New Kids

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By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / June 3, 2011

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INSIDE SUMMER CONCERTS: This is the first in an occasional series that will take a look at what happens around, behind, and off the stage at summer concerts.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — “I’m looking to make out,’’ says Danielle Machado as she waits in the cabaret at Mohegan Sun for her turn to meet the New Kids on the Block. She says her husband won’t mind.

The bubbly Machado, 35, and her equally effervescent sister Nicole Rossi Rivera, 37, are superfans — both favor Donnie Wahlberg — who have seen New Kids on the Block “too many times to count’’ says Rivera. Tonight, they and roughly 40 other giddy women wait for an up-close and personal moment with the guys during a VIP meet and greet.

No matter who your favorite band or musician is, you’ve probably entertained the idea of going backstage to meet them. Would they be as cool and nice as you hoped? Would there be time to discuss the genesis of your favorite lyric? Would the lead singer realize, after gazing into your eyes, that he had to run away with you to Switzerland?

In the case of the New Kids, the answers from fans who met the band seemed to be yes, a little, and sadly, no.

The days of bluffing your way past security appear over as the women wait cheerfully in a highly organized environment, having purchased their backstage opportunity through the “’’ program. (It offers premium seating, varying levels of photo ops — either individually or in groups — gift bags, and various other perks at price tags not for casual fans, in this case ranging from $395 to $695.)

The ladies are arranged by color-coded laminates and marched in to meet Joey, Jordan, Donnie, Danny, and Jonathan — the latter gamely embracing exuberant fans while hobbling in a knee brace. The guys clap and cheer as the fans enter. Everyone gets a hug and a chance to exchange some quick banter before a professional photographer snaps off a few frames.

Friends Kim Ruzzo, 28, and Nisha Burke, 27, both of Groveland, did grimace a bit at the cost, but they weren’t complaining, saying they’d do it again.

“If we could’ve gotten the individual picture, I definitely think it would’ve been more worth it,’’ says Burke. “But the experience was awesome, they were so nice.’’ Ruzzo agrees, saying, “Look, they signed it!’’ as she points to the back of the professional-looking NKOTBSB/Celtics jerseys they made especially for the occasion.

Rivera and Machado are beside themselves having gotten “a little rub from Donnie,’’ according to Machado. “Priceless.’’

Sarah Rodman can be reached at