Onstage & Backstage: How Did An Audience Member Get Glinda's Wand at Wicked?

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage & Backstage: How Did An Audience Member Get Glinda's Wand at Wicked?
 
In this week's installment of the life of Seth Rudetsky, readers learn to never let him sign for a delivery.

I got to be home this weekend! Yay! Yes, I flew on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday but I was home after that. On Wednesday I flew up to Toronto to do a show with Andrea Martin. I flew home Thursday morning and then flew to Boston Friday morning for a show with Megan Hilty and flew back to NYC on Saturday morning. It was a headache flying so much but the shows were great. Andrea and I talk about "SCTV" during her show and I was recently obsessing about her Bernadette Peters. It's such a hilariously weird take; she plays her really still and quiet…and then suddenly loud for no reason. Watch her in this clip when they ask what movies she's been in. "I was in 'The Jerk' and 'Pennies From Heaven'…and 'ANNIE.' Why is Annie so loud? I love it!

Megan Hilty (who is going to star with Andrea in the upcoming revival of Noises Off) sang up a storm in her Boston show. Plus told some great stories including one about her many years with Wicked. Megan said they were trying out new wands for Glinda and every time they'd give her a new wand, she'd try it out before she went onstage. Well, cut to one night they handed her a wand and she decided she didn't need to practice first; she'd just go onstage and use it. It was for the scene where she confronts Elphaba and does a swirly/baton twirler move over and over again. Megan said that a lot of the wands were heavy but this one wasn't. As she was twirling it, she was so impressed by how easy it moved and how light it was. Around 20 seconds into her crazy baton routine she looked down and saw that she no longer had the wand. The scene was basically her onstage waving her hand wildly. She then saw it had flown into the front of the orchestra seats and an audience member kindly gave it back.

I heard a similar story this week from Felicia Finley who recently starred as Tanya in Mamma Mia! She would always put on fake nails before the show, but as Judy McLane informed us, they weren't amazing salon nails. They were old-school Lee Press-on Nails. Not surprisingly, they'd fall off throughout the show. During one show, Felicia lost a nail into the audience but instead of it remaining lost, a nice gentleman in the front picked it up and gingerly placed it back onstage. Phew! She was almost out 10 cents!

Felicia Finley, Judy McLane and Lauren Cohn
Felicia Finley, Judy McLane and Lauren Cohn Photo by Joan Marcus

Felicia also talked about a bizarre audition she had in the early 2000's: she was asked to audition for Forbidden Broadway and when she went in they asked what she was doing there. She told them she was scheduled for an audition. They were completely confused because they wanted to add a black woman to the cast and Felicia is white and blonde. Soon, they all figured out that some cast person saw Felicia's resume and noticed she was in Smokey Joe's Café (whose cast is mostly people of color) and The Life (same thing) and her name kind of sounds like a black woman's name and the next she knew, she was in an audition waiting with all black women and her. They decided to see if Felicia could do imitations, specifically Heather Headley. Whatever she did worked, because soon she was one of the stars of Forbidden Broadway singing the parody of "It's Easy" called "It's Cheesy." Listen!

Felicia was in the concert of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas that I did for the Actors Fund back in 2006. You can see her right in back of Jennifer Hudson (who sounds amazing) in this number. Watch!

On Thursday (the day I flew back from Toronto, the day before I flew to Boston) I did a really cool event at Dixon Place. Emmy Laybourne (the young adult author who wrote the super popular "Monument 14" trilogy and just published "Sweet") does a series called Spine Out where she has a group of young adult authors read personal essays. First of all, I was so intimidated before I went on because she kept introducing each person as "…author of the NY Times bestseller…". Nonetheless, I had such a great time writing and performing my essay because I still think I did the right thing! Here it is:

There's a song in Wicked whose title drives me crazy. In act two, Elphaba sings "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished". I hate> that expression. I think it's so negative and basically gives people an excuse to be selfish. "Why do a good deed? The old adage says you'll be punished. It's better to not get involved." So not true I always tell people. 

However, I must admit...my good deeds have been punished. 

How? You collectively ask? Or, if you're New Yorkers, "ax"? I'll tell ya.

So, I was living on 74th street near West End Avenue in a building without a doorman. Everyone knew each other…ish… enough to say "Hey" in the hallway, and we'd often buzz in Fed Ex or UPS guys who were delivering stuff to people in other apartments who weren't home. So, one day I see a UPS guy carrying a big box. He was ringing the doorbell of an apartment on the ground floor and the guy was not answering.  That box is so big! Dell? Gasp! It's a new computer! Exciting!

Well,  I wasn't asked to sign for the package, but I decided to volunteer. I was sure my neighbor would be disappointed if he was expecting the computer today and he happened to miss the window when the UPS guy came. 

"I'll sign for it!" I said magnanimously, with a slight Please, don't praise me bow of my head. The UPS guy gave me the delivery ticket, I signed and he was off. Ah. Good deed done for the day. I'm amazing.

http://cdn-gd.playbill.com/images/cache/remote/http_cdn-images.playbill.com/ee_assets/50/ups.jpg

A few hours later my phone rang. I answered it. This was 2000, so I had to first lift the antenna, then flip out the phone, but I answered it eventually. It was the guy whose package I signed for. Please! It was nothing! I was prepared to say.
"Hi, Seth! Did you sign for my computer?"
"Yes, I did".
"Great! Where is it?" He asked.
"Oh! It's in front of your apartment door, " I told him. There were always packages left in front of people's apartments until they got home.
"No, it isn't." he said. 
"Oh…" I said. "It should be. I signed for it, and the guy left the computer right in front of your door."
"It's not here," he reiterated.

That's odd, I thought. It was right in front of his door when I last saw it. His door in the front hallway. The hallway on the ground floor that's totally visible from the street. Visible by anybody walking by on the street. Uh-oh.

"Well…" I began again. "I definitely last saw it in front of your door."
"Well," he said, "it's not here." 
OK. It was now obvious what happened. But he refused to say it. There was silence. I finally realized the burden to acknowledge the fate of the computer laid on me.
Finally:
"I guess…" I began. "I guess since it was there before and it's no longer there…I guess…it was stolen."
I don't really remember what happened next, but I know he was pretty upset.
That night my friends were like "Why did you sign for it?!" 

Yet to this day I totally stand by what I did! Everyone buzzed people in and signed for everybody else in that building. I still don't really know what happened because the outside door from the street is locked. Did the UPS guy take it after I walked upstairs? Did someone from the street see it and pushed random buzzers and got themselves buzzed in and steal it? Regardless, my good deed completely backfired. I was mortified and thankfully didn't see much of him for a while.

Until around two weeks later, he had just done his laundry and was standing in front of his open apartment door.  

"HI!" I said, with a big smile. I felt horribly guilty and wanted to counteract by being really friendly and supportive. 

"Hi" he offered and turned to go inside his apartment.

I stopped him with my voice. "Wow! You look great!" He still held the door handle in his hand and said, "Thanks.", obviously wanting to end the conversation. I refused. I wanted him to feel good about himself.

"Have you lost weight?" I asked, aggressively positive.

"Uh, yeah," he said. 

"Wowza! What's your secret? Tell me everything!" 

"Well," he sighed, closing the door and standing in the hallway to face me, finally accepting I wasn't going to leave quickly, "I started going to the gym more often."

"Well, look at you!" I knew I now sounded like a Midswestern woman on an infomercial, but I coudn't stop myself. "Holy smokes! I mean, whatever your doing, keep it up. It's working like gangbusters!"

I was now pushing it, but I knew I had made him feel good about his weight loss. Mission accomplished.

Satisfied with myself, I started to leave. He turned towards his apartment with obvious relief. He grabbed the door knob and turned it.

Nothing.

He tried again.

Nothing.

It soon became clear to me that he had walked out of his apartment without his keys because he had planned on keeping the door open. However, my incessant babbling had distracted him and made him close the door behind himself.

He turned the knob again and looked at me.

Just like the phone call, I realized with devastation that it was up to me to verbalize what had happened.

"I, uh…" Just say it quickly and get it over with. "I guess you locked yourself out."

Silence.

I was on my way to work.

"So... good luck." I fled.

Yay! My good deeds had
A.  gotten his computer stolen and
B.  left him standing in our apartment hallway wearing shorts and flip flops. 

In conclusion, it all worked out because he said he understood I was trying to do the right thing and he forgave me unconditionally. 

Actually, in conclusion, it all worked out because I moved!!!

THE END

Yes, that story was totally true and the part I left out was that I got a call from a policeman the day after the computer disappeared asking me what happened. I explained that I signed and left it in front of his door. He then told me that someone saw me carrying it up the stairs to my apartment! I freaked out because it so wasn't true. Or was it? Really! I totally know what it's like to get a false confession. The guy was so insistent that someone saw me that I began to doubt myself. I kept thinking, "How could I carry a big box up to my fourth floor walk-up?" Finally, after I kept pleading my innocence, the policeman hung up. The next day, I got a call from another policeman. I told him that someone called me yesterday from the precinct. He told me that nobody called me from the precinct! I finally figured out the guy calling me the day before was from the insurance company and he was trying to force me to admit I stole it so they wouldn't have to pay for a replacement. Ah! I was caught in a web of lies more complicated than "Homeland" just without anything actually interesting.

In conclusion, this Sunday is the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Flea Market! Come to my booth and get some amazing DVD"s and books! And then come see me perform at Elsie Fest, the outdoor Broadway music festival created by Darren Criss! Peace out!!!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)

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