It's happened. People always ask me, "How do you have time to do all that you do?" and I always laugh and say I'm not that busy. Well, I'm now finally asking myself that question. I have never had this many commitments to deal with at one time. Yes, it's all fun stuff, but it doesn't mean I don't feel cra-za-zy pressure. Ready?
First of all, I have my Sirius/XM radio show every day. Next, at George Street Playhouse (an hour commute each way) we are deep into the staging of [title of [AUDIO-LEFT]show]. That show has a lot of music and there is only one song that is just "stand and sing" (or the expression I recently heard and loved, "park and bark"). Most songs are choreographed with tiny specific movements that aren't necessarily hard to do, but there are a million of them, and I'm having a breakdown trying to remember all the steps while singing the right lyrics/harmonies. For instance, if an itsy bitsy fly landed on you, you'd be able to handle it, but if a million flies landed on you you'd be overwhelmed and terrified of being fired. So, I have rehearsal all day and then an hour commute each way. Plus, tonight I'm doing the yearly benefit for Only Make Believe. This year it's hosted by Sir Ian McKellen again but also features my mother's future fantasy husband. Yes, she has an obsessive crush on Hugh Jackman, which is creepy because so do I. Get tickets at www.OnlyMakeBelieve.org and see my mom and I have a Jersey Shore-type catfight over Hugh at the after party.
I'm doing two sections from Broadway 101 at the benefit, but it's a tight schedule at the Shubert Theatre, and they can only tech the Pippin section at 3 PM when I'm still at rehearsal, so I can't be there for that. However, [title of show] is letting me leave rehearsal early to tech my second section. I rehearsed both of them with my ensemble last Wednesday, and that night I flew to the Sewickley Academy in Pittsburgh for a gig I agreed to do before I got [title of show]. I was exhausted, but it went great. It's a beautiful school, and I had a lot of fun doing a master class with the chorus kids and one with the acting kids. Then, at night, I did Deconstructing Broadway. Ellen Geller, who brought me out there, has now been added to the roster of amazing producer gifts (delish homemade cupcakes/book gift certificate from Matt Grue in Red Deer, every Disney park imaginable from Michael Wanzie in Orlando, non-stop food and the Patti LuPone autobiography from Missy Greenberg in Chicago). I got up to my room at midnight Wednesday, and she left me a gift basket including Ugg slippers! They're so crazily comfortable I cannot tell you. Brava! The next day, I went out to lunch with the faculty. Kurt, the dance teacher, was regaling us with stage mishaps from his past theatre days. He remembered playing Al in A Chorus Line, and the guy playing Zach completely skipped the Al and Kristine section (they perform "Sing") and started the Mark section. When he called the wrong name, Mark was like, "Uh…are you sure you want me?" Zach had no idea he skipped an entire scene and song and just kept going with the Mark scene which forced the company to do the first section of "Hello, Twelve, Hello, Thirteen…" Then Zach realized he was wrong, so he went back to the Al and Kristine section. Colleen Dunn was playing Kristine, and when she was asked to step forward, she thought the whole skipping of the scene and coming back to it was so hilarious that she started laughing hysterically. And I do mean hysterically. She couldn't perform the number. Soon, she got so hysterical that her laughing turned into crying! What the-? Did the audience think that the show segued into Next to Normal? After that fiasco, Kurt told us about a folk dance concert he was in where they were doing some crazy Eastern European dance where the men would swing an ax every count of eight. Of course, one of the guys swung it on the count of seven and hit another dancer in the head! The injured dancer was rushed to the hospital, and the attending doctor looked at him wearing his costume (which was something like short shorts and lederhosen) and asked why he had an enormous gash on his head. The reply? "The guy I was dancing with hit me with an ax." And I thought I've had unhealthy relationships. Now he works as a teacher and, of course, has to deal with parents. He was choreographing at a camp, and a mother was mortified that he had kids cast as prostitutes. The show was 42nd Street, and she thought the word "hoofer" meant something else. Seriously. When she heard the line "You hoofers have all you need at the ends of your legs," she lost it.
Back to my stress; just to add to it, James, Juli and I literally moved last week! That's right. I decided that number three from the list of "most stressful things" was a useful addition in my life. Of course, I was conveniently not available on the day of the move (it was the morning I came back from Pittsburgh and then I had to go right to rehearsal in NJ) so James was completely in charge. And, he was very happy about that (see transcript of our couples counseling session to expose my lie). The good news is, we love our new place; delicious fireplace and backyard. Our dogs are so happy!
There's more stuff that's all happening at the same time: In the middle of rehearsals this coming week, I'm flying to New Orleans to be in Varla Jean Merman's first film. Jeff Roberson, who plays Varla, has written a hilarious script with his friend Jacques Lamarre about Varla deciding to do a children's television show. First of all, I'm playing myself in the film (she hires me to do the music), and throughout every scene I'm constantly babbling on the phone or texting. I'm going to assume this is a character trait based on someone else that was added to give me something meaty to work with. There are so many funny parts in the film and in one of them, she's telling me about one the ideas for her TV show, which aims to teach children about health. She decides to add a needle character to the show so children aren't afraid to go to the doctor. Of course, like a moron, she gives the needle the first name of Sharon ("Look at me, kids! I'm Sharon Needles."), and as she's acting it out, she flails around and accidentally stabs my arm with an actual needle. She apologizes by saying, "Sorry, I thought the top was on the needle." Then she tries to make it better with "It was… when I found it."
So, I go to New Orleans on Wednesday night, film Thursday and Friday and then fly to Memphis to play for Betty Buckley in Germantown, Tennessee on Saturday night (www.BettyBuckley.com for details)! And, overlaying all of my commitments is the fact that the second draft of my young adult novel was due to be given to my editor a few weeks ago and, to paraphrase Morales, he's gotten "Nothing." I told my agent I'd have the revisions in two weeks, which is now one-and-a-half weeks away. What was I thinking? Maybe I can cut and paste? Would young adults laugh at a bit about Sharon Needles?
And, finally, I'm still doing my Playbill Obsessed videos and my Sony Masterworks deconstructions. This week's Playbill video features my best friend Jack Plotnick and I doing our opening number from our first comedy show called An Evening With Joyce DeWitt. It begins with her two back-up dancers, giddily chanting, "She's back! She's back!" but when her big entrance comes, the stage manager whispers that she can't make it because she has a callback for a Juicy Fruit commercial. Because Jack is the dance captain, he's forced to go on. We called our show An Evening With Joyce DeWitt even though the rest of the show had nothing to do with it, but unfortunately, some people thought the title was true. Sidney Meyer, who runs Don't Tell Mama, told us we had to change the title because a couple left our show angrily after realizing it wasn't a cabaret featuring the former star of "Three's Company." But, they waited until halfway through the show to leave! Didn't they realize after the opening sketch that it was all a joke? Why am I still annoyed 20 years later? Watch the video here:
And, to end on one of my typical self-busts, I was plunged into depression this week when Andrew Keenan-Bolger posted on my Facebook wall that I was "famous" because he just auditioned for a commercial and they asked for a Seth Rudetsky type. No, that wasn't exactly what he posted. It was: "I just auditioned for a commercial and they were looking for a young Seth Rudetsky type." Of course, I immediately posted a comment that I was mortified. Underneath that were cute comments from various Facebook friends trying to double talk me out of my devastation. Finally, truth-teller Jen Simard posted with Cassandra like clarity: "Translation: you're old." And on that note, I'm 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.)