ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Really Big Shoe

Seth Rudetsky   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Really Big Shoe A week in the life of actor, writer, music director and Chatterbox host Seth Rudetsky.

Seth Rudetsky and Lauren Kennedy in [title of show]
Seth Rudetsky and Lauren Kennedy in [title of show] Photo by T. Charles Erickson

I'm sitting backstage in my dressing room doing my first four-show weekend of [title of show].

You never know how savvy the audiences are going to be with some of the more hip jokes. For instance, my mom came to the show, and even though she's in her late 70's, she's very hip to slang. Well, the first line in the show is "So, last night a trannie stole my shrimp" and after my mom saw it, she asked me if we were talking about someone's granny. She had no idea what a Trannie was. If she, who's seen performances by Charles Busch and Varla Jean Merman numerous times, doesn't [AUDIO-LEFT]know what the word "trannie" means, what about the regular subscription audience? Should I call Hunter Bell and ask him to change the script to "So, last night a guy dressed as a woman stole my shrimp"? Too on the nose as they say? Regardless, now my mom has taken to signing her text messages "Love, your Tranny," so at least she's appropriated the term. And PS, not only does the show open with an expression that a large part of the audience may not know, but it ends with Tyler saying, "I don't want to taint the ending." And me pausing and saying "'taint" and giggling. If you don't know what a "'taint" is, look it up on the Urban Dictionary. And, PS, if you don't know what a "'taint" is, you're the majority of the audience. So, I get to end the show with a laugh line. Literally. It gets "a" laugh. But I always love finding the person laughing and giving them a knowing look.

Regardless, the show is going great, and we got excellent reviews. I haven't actually read any, but my sister sent me them and told me they're amazing! Here are some links my sister sent me. http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201011230410/ENT/101122060 and http://www.nj.com/entertainment/arts/index.ssf/2010/11/title_of_show_review_ysterious.html.

This week my nieces Eliana and Rachel Sarah visited. Eliana is now 13, so she and her friends are going through a sassing adults phase. One of her friends named Lisa started a trend that when they get a substitute teacher, all the kids give fake names! So, when the teacher asked Lisa's name, she said it was Franka. Of course, she had to push it and make up a fake middle name, which was Alexis. She finally continued her own "Yes, and…" — as we say in the improv business — and explained to the teacher that she prefers to be called Lexy. This then led the teacher into giving a long speech about how "Franka"'s parents took a long time to pick out her name and how she should be proud to be called Franka. It reminded me of being in Mrs. Jaffe's AP English class and, as usual, getting in trouble for talking. The sub said, "Seth! You'd talk anywhere! You'd talk if I put you in your own row, you'd talk if I put you in the closet!" My hilarious friend Debbie Levitt yelled out, "He's out of the closet!" Brava!

Betty Buckley

On Wednesday, we had a matinee and night show, and the cast stayed at the theatre because it's a 45 minute train ride back to New York, but I took the train in during my break. Why? Because James had the first reading of a new play he wrote, and he got Betty Buckley and Helen Gallagher to star in it! He said it was amazing to go over to Helen's apartment and see her Emmy Awards randomly sitting on a shelf and one of her Tony Awards by the piano. I found this clip of Helen in Mame performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. She took over the role of Gooch, which is a totally non-dancing part, but watch how she adds an amazing head isolation in the middle of the song! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CwJxfUsPnE The play went great, and it was especially exciting to see Juli in it! James wrote a part for a ten-year-old girl and cast Juli after a grueling audition process (AKA mentioning it to her on the way to the school). Juli brought down the house at one point when she tells her mother that her Aunt June (played by the hilarious Kristine Zbornik, who was in town on a break from 9 to 5) is reading her a bedtime story. June is a judgmental Christian going to Oral Roberts University. Juli innocently tells her mom that Aunt June is reading Cinderella, but "I didn't know that Cinderella's daddy married a Jew lady! Aunt June says that's why her sisters are so spoiled." Juli loved getting the laugh so much that she's been repeating the line to everybody (PS, we've learned that it's not appropriate to repeat loudly on the Upper West Side). James and I are nervous that she's built it up so much as her amazing laugh line that instead of getting a laugh at the next reading she may push it and get a healthy dose of crickets. But, we've decided it will be her first lesson about comedy. A devastating, devastating lesson.

Susan Blackwell (the original Susan) came to the show last week and, thankfully, we had a great audience that night. However, Jeff Bowen and Hunter (the original creators and stars) are coming on the Sunday matinee, and we're terrified it's going to be an audience filled with non-trannie/'taint aware people. AKA, we'll be getting a devastating lesson in comedy. Speaking of Jeff, he posted on my Facebook wall when the show started performances: "You are about to perform one of the greatest roles ever created for the theatre." Then, Hunter, who wrote the book added, "In one of the greatest plays ever writ." I then asked, "I'm playing Brooklyn in Brooklyn?" That was followed by Jeff clarifying, "I said ONE of the greatest roles, Seth. Brooklyn is THE greatest role."

I was so overwhelmed during tech rehearsals —because they went til midnight and I had to fly to Canada in the middle of it all — that one night I wore one of the show shoes home and one of my own shoes. I wasn't that embarrassed because I had the "I'm so overwhelmed" excuse. Well, what was my excuse Saturday night when the same thing happened? I literally had to show up at an important meeting discussing my security deposit for my former apartment looking like a crazy person (see side picture). Speaking of crazy, I'm mortified that I had to admit I'm still using AOL. Lauren was telling a story to me and said, "Remember when you used to log on to AOL and you'd hear 'You've got mail.'" I muttered that I still hear it, and I need to further my admission by telling everyone that up until two weeks ago I was still paying for AOL. Yes, it's been free for five years, but I just recently had time to get to it. Oh, it's only $11 a month, you say? Well, that adds up to $122 a year and therefore a delicious $660 I've paid over the last five years to AOL for no reason. Yay.

I'm super psyched because I'm going to host Gypsy of the Year for the third year next Monday and Tuesday. I love doing it, and this year there are more Broadway shows participating in it than ever before. Get thee to BroadwayCares.org for tickets. And while you're there, get tix for tonight's performance of Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve starring Ann Harada and a bevy of Broadway leading men. This is what I wrote about it last year:

Ann Harada

It was FANTASTIC! It was so well-written (by her), directed (by Alan Muraoka) and performed. She played her character from Avenue Q (the therapist with two masters degrees) and used her signature thick Japanese accent. We were told that her Christmas wish was to do a show with fabulous leading men from Broadway. When Chip Zien came out, she said, "We most famous therapists on Broadway," because he played Mendel in Falsettos. Then she looked "sympathetic" and said "My show run longer." Then she said, "But you most famous baker on Broadway" because he played the baker in Into the Woods. Then she added, "My show also run longer." She sang a duet with each one including a hilarious "Barcelona" with Raul Esparza where she played "April" with a thick Japanese accent. The bridge culminated in:

RAUL: No, you're a very special girl….June!!!!

CHRISTMAS EVE: Aplir!!!

RAUL: (confused) Aplir??
CHRISTMAS EVE: Thank you…  

Lauren and I made Tyler start doing a web series where he reads Facebook and Twitter status updates. Whenever we ride with him to work he reads them from his phone and, no matter how heartfelt or funny they are, his reading makes them all sound so self-indulgent and stupid. It's HI-larious. In the first video he culminates with my Twitter: Opening Night was amazing. "But, note to self, if diagnosed with reflux, don't eat an enormous meal of Ethiopian food right before the show. Stritch voice!" What I thought was a fun update sounds like annoying, show-biz obsessed babbling! Watch them here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUQdvS3ywtE&feature=youtube_gdata_player. And speaking of babbling, I'm back at my Sirius/XM Live on Broadway show! Come by this Wednesday at noon and join our Facebook fan page to find out upcoming guests. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=30955307964&ref=ts Peace to the out!

 

*

Seth Rudetsky has played piano in the pits of many Broadway shows including Ragtime, Grease and The Phantom of the Opera. He was the artistic producer/conductor for the first five Actors Fund concerts including Dreamgirls and Hair, which were both recorded. As a performer, he appeared on Broadway in The Ritz and on TV in "All My Children," "Law and Order C.I." and on MTV's "Made" and "Legally Blonde: The Search for the Next Elle Woods." He has written the books "The Q Guide to Broadway" and "Broadway Nights," which was recorded as an audio book on Audible.com. He is currently the afternoon Broadway host on Sirius/XM radio and tours the country doing his comedy show, "Deconstructing Broadway." He can be contacted at his website SethRudetsky.com, where he has posted many video deconstructions.)

Today’s Most Popular News: