ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Cruising the Mediterranean

Seth Rudetsky   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Cruising the Mediterranean
 
A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

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[AUDIO-RIGHT] Yawn! I'm on an rFamily cruise to Greece and there is a seven-hour time difference between here and the good ol' U.S. of A. I posted on my Facebook wall that I was so exhausted from the time difference that I had to have a "lie down" in the middle of the afternoon like an old British dowager. Apparently it's not cool to complain about being on a luxurious cruise in the Mediterranean, because right underneath my post someone commented: "My personal shopper is the worst!" Brava callback to The Onion and a previous column of mine. But seriously, my personal shopper is the worst.

 

Juli's in first class and James is devastated.

I am so tired! I left Provincetown on the 10:30 AM ferry with James and Juli in tow. We got into Boston at noon and took a water taxi to the airport. And by "to the airport," we discovered that the water taxi actually takes you to an area near the airport where you then take an additional shuttle. It reminds me of when I was in college and would tell people I was from New York. What I meant was: I was from a place where you could take a shuttle to New York (Long Island). Anyhoo, we checked into our flight and hung out at Logan Airport in the swanky Lufthansa waiting room, for rich passengers. Why were we allowed in there? Well, it all began a week ago. James and I planned to treat this working vacation as a romantic getaway for us. Cut to: we found out that the childcare we arranged for Juli fell through so we decided to take her along. Thankfully, James had enough miles to get Juli a plane ticket, but all that was left, for both ways, was first class. Mind you, not business class — literally first class. James and I wanted to sit together since that would be the only romantic part of the trip, so we stayed in coach the whole time. I'm not gonna say we felt like losers compared to her, but suffice it to say that James was in a middle seat. We were essentially starring in our own version of "Upstairs, Downstairs" because the plane was an old-school 747, so the first class was literally up the stairs. Of course, when James left his seat and started up the stairs to see Juli, he got the panicked "Sir, Sir, SIR!" from the flight attendant. He hauled out the ol' facing-forward/not-looking-back routine and hightailed it to Juli's seat. Luckily, first class was 30 percent full and the seat next to her was empty. James sat and talked with her for a little bit and then the first class flight attendant told him, "You're not supposed to sit up here." Not at all humiliating. Juli told us later that once dinner was over, she was given slippers and pajamas (!) and when we asked her where she put them on, she told us she changed in the bathroom. We couldn't understand how the bathroom had enough room until she informed us that the first class bathroom has a window. 'Nuff said. While she was in her chair that became a full bed, I had a little bit of a different time trying to sleep because there was a movie playing endlessly in coach. In other words, the whole time my eyes were closed, I saw non-stop bright light through my lids. Plus there were children sitting directly in back of us who thought the movie was a laugh riot. And, they had obviously seen it before, because I heard a continuous "Here comes a really funny part. This part is really funny. This part. It's funny. See, this part." Ah…I'm finally falling asleep… "THIS part."

Anyhoo, we landed in Frankfurt at 5:30 AM and waited at the airport for our connecting flight to Venice. The last time I was in Frankfurt was the early '90s when I was the pianist for A Chorus Line. The cast was all dancers so that meant one thing: non-stop smoking. What was so wonderfully European about it was that the rehearsal rooms had no windows. Yay?

Mitzi Hamilton

Our fabulous director was Mitzi Hamilton who was the basis for the character Val. Pam Blair got the part originally, but Mitzi took over the role on Broadway and at one point was playing Sheila in one of the tours. And speaking of smoking, one night she had a phlegm attack during "Hello Twelve..." By the time she cleared her throat, she ran out of music. It was the part where she's supposed to sing, "Darling…I can tell you know. Your father went through life with an open fly." But it sounded like this: "Darling (clears throat)…I can tell- (clears throat)…Your father-(clears throat)….(realizes she's out of music, rolls her eyes, mutters) f- - - it." Hilarious.

Anyhoo, now James, Juli and I are onboard the Norwegian Pearl and today we made our first stop: Corfu. My sister Nancy says it sounds like I'm saying tofu right after I had my wisdom teeth removed. It's one of the Ionian islands that's part of Greece and it's also where Prince Phillip was born. We went to a small family-run business that was the first soap-making factory in Greece and is now the last one around! They make it all in the back of their store with just olive oil and palm kernel oil. James and Juli loaded up on them but I only like Body Shop-style soap…AKA it has to smell like it's been soaked in a vat full of raspberry juice. Delicious.

Michael Lee Scott is the creative director of rFamily vacations but you might remember him from when he and Adrian Bailey backed-up Rosie O'Donnell the first time she hosted the Tony Awards. Besides being multi-talented, he always has a hilarious story to share. He told me that a while ago he went to a party and ran into a guy he knew from his midtown neighborhood. Now, for this story to have the full effect, you have to know that the guy was much older than Michael Lee and though Michael Lee thought he was nice, he found him very unattractive. The guy mentioned that he and he partner had been together for ten years and because the guy had a 1970s vibe, Michael Lee asked if they had an open relationship. It was just a passing comment meant to fill dead air. Well, after Michael Lee asked, the guy's face turned very apologetic. Michael Lee didn't know what was going on until the guy said, "An open releationship? No, we don't. I'm so sorry!" Michael Lee suddenly realized the guy thought Michael Lee had asked the question because he was interested in taking advantage of said open relationship!!!! Michael Lee didn't know how to tell him he was totally not, on any level, interested without appearing rude, so instead he had to spend ten minutes listening to guy keep saying with a pitying look "I'm so sorry. I feel really, really bad." Yay. It's fun to be rejected by someone you're not even interested in.

 

Seth and Mo recreate Mo's performance in Evita that never happened.

Last week I interviewed Mo Rocca on my Sirius/XM talk show, "Seth Speaks" (every Sunday at 5 PM Sirius/XM Stars 107). Turns out, even though Mo is know for his hilarious commentary on "The Daily Show" and "Foodography," he grew up obsessed with Broadway. He told me and my audience that he spent many obsessive weeks when he was a teenager memorizing the role of Che in Evita. Why, you ask? Well, even though he was savvy enough to have the album, he didn't know anything about understudies and he worried what would happen if Mandy Patinkin ever got sick. Therefore, he wanted to make sure he knew the all of the lyrics, word-for-word in case he had to go on. I asked him how he thought it would happen. Mandy would get sick and they would somehow know to contact him? A teenager not even living in New York? How would the Evita creative staff be aware of the fact that he was ready to go on? Psychically? Talk about not thinking an idea all the way through. Cut to: I remember being 12 years old and working night and day to memorize the role of the little boy in A Thousand Clowns. Because I had the role, you ask? No. It was because my picture and resume had been submitted to the casting director, and I figured that after numerous call-backs, if it came down to a choice between me and another kid, they would go with the child who had it memorized. Cut to: I was only able to memorize around two pages and never actually got an audition.

Mo told us that he was also obsessed with Cats when it came out and wrote everyone in the cast a fan letter. He remembers getting a cover of Time magazine and cutting it up so it was just a border and then putting Betty Buckley's face in the middle. He told us that he also remembers it was the first time he heard the word "stalking." He wound up never hearing back from Betty but he did get to speak to a member of the cast…-ish. He found himself a New York City phone book and looked up everyone's phone number and called them (!), but when he called the number for Cynthia Onrubia, it was actually her Mom's apartment. He began by telling her what a big fan he was of the show and that he wanted to know how Cynthia got to be where she was in her career. Turns out, they wound up having a long conversation on the phone! Brava Mrs. Onrubia!

My Playbill "Obsessed!" video this week features Carolee Carmello demonstrating her first audition song (she sounds amazing) and then she sings the big 11-o'clock number from Mamma Mia! but I make her add a crazily high-belted note at the end. Watch!

OK, I'm about to do my Deconstructing Broadway show for the cruise guests, so I need to prepare. And by "prepare," I mean hit one of the many food options onboard. So, let me end by saying "Ciao," which roughly translates to mean "I'm on my way to becoming morbidly obese."

(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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