ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Carrie and Plotnick and Rudetsky: We Have Awful Last Names

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Carrie and Plotnick and Rudetsky: We Have Awful Last Names A week in the life of actor, writer, music director and Chatterbox host Seth Rudetsky.

Original Carrie star  Linzi Hately
Original Carrie star Linzi Hately

Hello. First off, my apologies to everyone who called me this weekend and got James.

What happened, you ask? Remember how I said that AT&T used their Carrie-like powers to make me lose my Blackberry because I switched to Credo Mobile? Well, James and I both got new phones. We were told we had an option of black or purple. I have never liked purple, even in the 80's when it was in vogue, so I got black and, unfortunately, so did James. I took my phone with me to Chicago, and when I texted James, the [AUDIO-LEFT]message appeared on my phone. I thought it was weird until I finally figured out that I was texting myself: It was very Chinatown -- "she's my mother/she's my sister." Yes, I had taken James' look-a-like phone. The only good part is that my mom called me on my phone, got James instead and suckered him into a half-hour conversation.

Speaking of Carrie, I'm excited it's finally being revived! I had tickets from my mom in 1988 because it opened right when I was graduating college. But by the time my plane landed in New York, it had closed. PS, we saw Chess instead (which had AMAZING singing). Regardless, I've always wanted to see Carrie, and it only took a mere 22 years for it to come back. Although, there is a half-bootleg of the original show floating around. Scott Wise (who won the Tony Award the following year for Jerome Robbins' Broadway) was in the ensemble and wanted to have some kind of documentation of the show. He literally gaffer taped his video camera to the back wall of the balcony and hit the record button at half-hour. The first weird thing is that there's 30 minutes at the beginning of the tape of the audience filing in. Also, he couldn't plug his camera up in the balcony, so his battery ran out at the end of Act One. If you've ever seen any online footage of the show from the TV reviews, you'll see the bizarre choice that the high school kids are all in white outfits. Why, you ask? Well, according to a story I heard from a reliable source, the original director (Terry Hands from the Royal Shakespeare Company) was talking to a very famous Broadway producer. The producer remarked that the story of Carrie was so terrifying because it's like any high school in U.S. The producer then took it further by saying it was like Grease. The director agreed and proceeded to put the student body in all-white, almost toga-like costumes. That's right, he made it not like Grease but like Greece! A Greek tragedy, to be precise. I know it sounds like an urban legend, but check out the original cast photos/videos online. Holy Oedipus!

Seth with Jack Plotnick

Speaking of revivals, this week has been spent in mad preparation for doing my one-man play, Rhapsody in Seth tonight (Oct. 11) at the Triad for the first time in years. I started writing it back in 1999 because I was doing a monthly comedy show at Caroline's with Jack Plotnick, which we called Plotnick and Rudetsky. PS, we wanted to call it Plotnick and Rudetsky: We Have Awful Last Names, but it was too long. The show featured lots of stories, video and audio clips from our childhood. Jack had a clip of himself that he felt summed up why he always afraid to take risks; it was a video of teenaged Jack at the beach doing something completely un-strenuous, yet you can hear his mother yell frantically, "Jack! You're gonna break your neck!" We followed that with a sketch of Jack deciding to try various new things (joining a gym, writing a TV pilot), but right before he'd begin, we'd play a recording of his mother on a loop saying, "Jack, you're gonna break your neck!" and that would put a stop to it. Of course, at the end, he finally got the strength to stifle her negative voice. He tried something new and, within one second, he broke his neck. Blackout. I had a devastating audio tape of me at 11 years old singing "Nobody Does it Better (The Spy Who Loved Me)" with my "amazing" pop scoops as well as video footage of myself jazz dancing (in purple plastic jazz pants, black leg warmers and white Capezios) to the disco version of "I Am What I Am."

Rudetsky performs Rhapsody in Seth

My friend from USDAN summer camp, Richie Jackson (who is now the executive producer of "Nurse Jackie") spoke to me after the show and said that he felt our comedy show was about two boys who were outcasts in their youth and then used what made them outcasts to become successful. He suggested that we write a show about that. Jack was not interested, but I immediately started writing Rhapsody in Seth. (The title is based on my obsession with "Rhapsody in Blue," which I've been playing since I was in junior high school). PS, I kept the jazz dancing video! I ran it downtown at HERE, and then it got produced at Ars Nova. From there, Peter Breger, who owned the Actors Playhouse in the Village, produced it there for a six month run. The show opens with me saying that I'm going to finally get my revenge on my childhood tormentors by not only talking about them, but using their names. Of course, for all my bravado, I lived in fear that they would actually show up. I do a whole section on my high school theatre teacher who boycotted me from the show and gave me an F (!) in theatre class.

Right after the show started one matinee, I saw an older looking version of him right in the front row! I was too scared to give him a second look because I didn't want to see his reaction to everything I said about him. Would he walk out? Would he say something from the audience? Would he just glower and give me the evil eye? I had to keep going with the show, but I couldn't bear to see his facial expression, so I spent the whole show avoiding looking anywhere near his direction. Finally, when I got to the bows, I got the nerve to look over at him. Of course, it wasn't him. Shockingly, I discovered there are other bald men in the world who are around 5'9". Yay. It was really fun playing an entire show while pretending my head was in a vice that prevented me from turning it anywhere to the right of center. For tickets for Rhapsody in Seth at www.TriadNYC.com or for my performance later in the week in Red Deer, Canada, go to http://ignitiontheatre.ca/rhapsodyinseth.html. Unless you're my old theatre teacher. In that case, all performances are sold-out. And, you owe me money for a chiropractor.

Andrea Martin

Speaking of Canada, I spent Wednesday in Toronto with the hy-sterical Andrea Martin. She performed Andrea Martin: Final Days, Everything Must Go and, not surprisingly, got a standing ovation from a sold-out house. Her good friend Debra Monk came up to see the show and stay through the week. I asked how they met, and Deb told me that they were both nominated for Tony Awards the same year; she for Redwood Forest and Andrea for My Favorite Year. Then, they both won! Unfortunately, both of their shows had closed before the Tony Awards, so when they were in the press area, nobody was interested in talking to them! They began bonding over their mutual ignored-ness. Deb said that there was big finale celebrating Agnes DeMille that all the presenters and Tony winners were supposed to be in, and nobody came to get her. She took an elevator up to the stage and as she got off, Barry Bostwick came running by and pulled her onto the stage. Ever since that night of acceptance immediately followed by rejection, Deb and Andrea have been great friends. Andrea's show is so funny and full of so many "SCTV" characters. She also does Aunt Voula from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." She brings up two men from the audience to have a dance-off because she says she's the new host of "Dancing with the Greeks," subtitled "So, You Think You Can Dance…like Zorba." The segment is always fantastic and the audience members who come onstage love it, which is ironic because later on in the show, she has a line as Edith Prickley talking about fear of aging where she says, "Fear! Fear is the worst thing in the world…if you don't count audience participation."

I'm on my United flight back to New York after doing two (sold-out) shows and a great master class in Chicago. Missy Greenberg produced the show and treated me like visiting royalty. I had flowers in my hotel room, a gift basket full of everything I love (Diet Snapple, Fudge Graham Zone bars, Emergen-C, Bagels, Hershey's Kisses) and another one in my dressing room (!) and a copy of Patti LuPone's autobiography! Amazing!

All right, we're preparing for landing, so I have to sign off. I was upgraded to First Class, but I have to say, I'm duly unimpressed. There aren't even private TV screens up here. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: My personal shopper is the worst! Have a great Columbus Day!!!  

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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.)

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