Onstage & Backstage: I Learn the Secret Behind Christian Borle's Arms!

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage & Backstage: I Learn the Secret Behind Christian Borle's Arms! This weekly look at Seth Rudetsky's life includes a chat with Something Rotten! star Christian Borle and a walk in the woods with Audra McDonald.

Boy, it's cold!!! Thankfully, this week I fly to sunny Scottsdale, AZ, to do my deconstructing show Oct. 25. Yay sun damage! I fly back Oct. 26 and go right from the airport to NJPAC to do show with Christine Ebersole that's being filmed for PBS. I'm very excited to work for PBS for the first time! I grew up watching PBS theatre shows like the one hosted by Sylvia Fine Kaye where I first saw Bernadette Peters and Richard Chamberlain singing "Barcelona." I also remember seeing a PBS special and becoming obsessed with a song, but I had no way of knowing what song it was! I couldn't Google it or go on a theatre message board and ask because this was before ye olde Internet. I thought about calling PBS but I didn't even know who I'd call. And what would I ask? "What was that amazing song I heard a woman sing about breaking up?" Ans. Silence. Anyhoo, a few years ago I went to a Broadway show…and I heard the song! I was so happy! I had begun to think I had dreamt it. It was "Tell Me On A Sunday" and it was in Song and Dance. But when I first saw it, it was sung by Marti Webb. Here's the video!

Last Thursday I interviewed Christian Borle at my "Chatterbox," and he talked about doing theatre as a kid, admitting that as a ninth grader he was 4'11". And he stayed that way for years. Yet he was still cast as Harold Hill! I asked if the little boy who played Winthrop Paroo was taller than him, and he admitted 'twas true. For those of you who doubted how sexy he was back then, please note that he also sported a retainer. But speaking of sexy, I asked how he got his amazing bod and was waiting for the annoying answer of, "What do you mean? I don't do anything!" or "I live in a third floor walk-up and that keeps me fit." Thankfully, he 'fessed up how he got so buff. He said that doing a show always keeps you fairly slim because you're constantly moving around, but doing TV is different; you sit around a lot and you're surrounded by craft service tables full of delicious food. So, during "Smash" he started going to the gym a lot. Hence his arms are now big as people and are currently both up for a revival of Side Show.

It was snowing when Audra took this!
It was snowing when Audra took this!

James, Juli and I headed up to Westchester over the weekend to visit Audra and her daughter Zoe. We had a great time (even though it was freezing) and took a pic while it was snowing (!). Of course, you can't see the snow in the photo, but make sure you imagine it because it really was happening. We also went on a little hike and wound up passing by a neighboring house owned by Julie White! I told Audra the hilarious comment Julie said to me once about meeting a cute guy at a barbeque; he was younger than her and when they started talking he said, "You're, like, 30, right?" She responded, "Yes" because, as she explained, "I was 35…which is 'like 30.'" Brava! Speaking of Julie White, she's one of my many people featured in my new book "Seth's Broadway Diary." Last year was Volume One, and Volume Two comes out Oct. 27. Julie and I both hosted the Gypsy of the Year competition, and I asked her all about her amazing career. Here's a little section about her from my upcoming book where she talks about Johnny Galecki being totally nude in The Little Dog Laughed:

"Julie said one of her relatives saw the show and described her as a quintessential Texan older lady, AKA her hair was 'dyed, fried and pushed to the side.' (I'm obsessed with that triple rhyme scheme.) After the show they went out to eat, and Johnny Galecki came by to say hi. The woman smiled and said, 'Young man, I saw more of you than I've seen of my husband. And we've been married for 40 years.' Johnny was miffed and asked how that was possible. She replied, 'Well, we turn the lights off… or I close my eyes!'"

You can pre-order the book at DressCirclePublishing.com, and next week I'm having a book release show! I'll be reading excerpts from the book with some of the people featured in it! Jackie Hoffman, Andrea Burns, Mandy Gonzalez and Ana Gasteyer will all be with me at Don't Tell Mama October 28 at 5:30 PM!

Michael Arden (who directed the recent fantastic revival of Spring Awakening) and Andy Mientus (his boyfriend and one of the stars of the show) paid a visit to me "Chatterbox." Michael talked about going to Juilliard as an acting major, where you're not allowed to have outside theatre jobs during the school year. He performed in the revival of Big River during his school hiatus but then the show was extended. He didn't know whether to stay with the show (and leave school) or go back to Juilliard and leave the show. He asked his director, Jeff Calhoun, for advice and Jeff said that he should do whatever decision scared him the most. He thus stayed with the show and dropped out of Juilliard! Yowtch. Hearing that scared me, too! But, thankfully, he's worked ever since.

Andy Mientus, Seth Rudetsky and Michael Arden
Andy Mientus, Seth Rudetsky and Michael Arden

That production, in 2003, mixed hearing actors was with non-hearing actors from Deaf West Theatre. For a few years, Deaf West has been asking Michael to direct a show and Andy suggested Spring Awakening. He did it in L.A and it was a big hit in L.A, transferring to Broadway. Michael can't believe that this little show where he stored costumes and some of set in his L.A. apartment is now on Broadway! It's such a "little engine that could" story. Andy, who is great in the show, had some hilarious stories to share, one of them about playing Marius in the recent Les Misérables revival. He said that at one performance, he went to make his entrance into the Parisian café where the students meet and tumbled down an entire flight of stairs. He told us that the most amazing thing about it was the fact that right after he completely wiped out, the next line sung to him was, "Marius, what's wrong today?" Parfait! 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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