Onstage & Backstage: The Best Laughs at Gypsy of the Year 2015

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage & Backstage: The Best Laughs at Gypsy of the Year 2015
 
This week's look into the life of Seth Rudetsky reveals Seth's favorite moments from Gypsy of the Year 2015, how he ended up playing a gig at a Trump hotel, plus the party he fully intends to crash once Disaster! hits Broadway.

I'm flying home from Chicago right now, where I'll be home for less than 24 hours until I leave for New Orleans for a show with Michael Cerveris. Get tix here: BroadwayNoLa.com. I feel like I'm on my farewell tour because I'm taking off a few months from traveling once Disaster! begins rehearsals on January 4th. I actually don't mind my usual my non-stop travel schedule except for a certain dog's devastation. That's right; Mandy plunges into a full depression whenever she suspects anyone is leaving the apartment. I'm talking if one of us is even going down the block for five minutes to get coffee. As soon as she feels one of us possibly making our way to the door/getting our keys/putting on a coat, she'll lay down and block the front door. Literally a barricade. Not since Les Miz. And then she'll stare at you looking sadder than Sylvia Plath on a bad day. It's so sweet/cute/co-dependent/guilt-inducing. Anyhoo, I'll feel better after January 2nd when I have my last out-of-town gig with Audra McDonald and Will Swenson at the Broward in Florida. Then when I tell Mandy "I'll be right back!" I won't be lying.

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Anyhoo, I spent Saturday in Chicago with Megan Mullally doing a private corporate gig. It was this nice business man's big holiday party and he is a huge fan of "Will & Grace." Megan sang three songs for an incredibly well-dressed crowd and then, since it began at 10PM (11PM NY time!) we hightailed it back to our hotel and hit the hay. The hotel was the Chicago Trump — which I have all sorts of comments about — but suffice it to say Megan remembered an encounter with Trump, himself. She did the Emmy Awards back in 2006 when they did "Emmy Idol." Various celebs sang TV theme songs and the audience voted on the winner a lá American Idol. Megan was asked to sing the theme to Green Acres as her "Will & Grace" character, Karen Walker, and she was joined by then Apprentice host singing the other part. The first thing you should know is that night before the show, Megan was doing a stupid dance to make her husband (Nick Offerman) laugh and she wound up spraining her ankle and not being able to walk. So, she got onstage with crutches and right before the number, the crutches were whisked off stage. You can see the guy fleeing after Ellen introduces them. Then, at the end of the song, you can see Megan crazily limping off the stage. Yet, she still shows her amazing ballet training (she studied with NYCB!) when she does an amazing back attitude on the final note.  Such great line. Brava Balanchine! I also love how Megan cut the word "but" and changed the meaning of one of the lines. It's supposed to be "Darling, I love you but give me Park Avenue." Instead, she sings "Darling I love you. Give me Park Avenue." As in she literally wants him to gift her the entire avenue. Watch! 

This past week began with the amazing Gypsy of the Year competition. It was my 8th year hosting and I l-o-v-e doing it. Some of my favorite presentations were the comedy ones: Avenue Q did a sketch about their songs getting updated for 2015. So instead of Kate Monster singing:

"Mix tape. He made a mix tape!" she sang

"D*ck pic. He sent a dick pic." 

It was so funny to me because she sang it in the same joyous, innocent way. I especially loved the ending:

"Sometimes when someone has a crush on you. They'll send you a d*ck pic…to give you a clue." 

<i>Avenue Q</i>
Avenue Q Photo by Monica Simoes

Such a hilarious juxtaposition. I also loved the Finding Neverland sketch, which featured Peter Pan and Wendy with the Darling children. They kept talking about "Neverland" but it meant the place as well as the show. For instance, Wendy asked "Do New Yorkers go to Neverland?" to which Peter informed her that "New Yorkers never go to Neverland…only tourists." The skit also busted how everyone flies in the show by having people simply lift them in the air. One of the kids was being lifted by two burly guys who angrily yelled, "You have to bend your knees!" He muttered, "I'm 10…."  Speaking of which, the little boys asked "Is it true that children never grow up in Neverland?" to which Peter Pan replied, "Of course they do! They get bigger and bigger…until they're replaced."  Then the little boy actors curled up in a depression/tried to make themselves look smaller.

<i>Finding Neverland</i>
Finding Neverland Photo by Monica Simoes

I did a deconstruction all about Barbra Streisand ('natch!) to promote the new Fanny Brice tree ornament. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has a new ornament each year which they sell, plus plenty of other amazing theater-related gifts at BroadwayCares.org.  They also sell my newest book "Seth's Broadway Diary Volume Two" on the site and I autographed every book!! So get thee ASAP!

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One of the other highlights of the show was a big number featuring Andréa Burns. Years ago, we did The Ritz together on Broadway. She understudied the character of Googie Gomez, a marginally talented singer who thinks that her gig in a gay bath house is a stepping stone direct to Broadway. I was also cast in a really fun role in The Ritz (I got to sing "Magic to Do" in a unitard), and — bonus — Joe Mantello (our director) also asked me to create Googie's big number. When Rita Moreno did the role in the original 1975 production, she performed a broad, inappropriate version of "Everything's Coming Up Roses." We decided to do a medley and Chris Gattelli (our choreographer) and I had a great time putting it together. One of the things I did was have Googie sings lyrics that were on the verge of being correct but weren't. Like in "I Could Have Danced All Night" she sings

"I could have spread my wings

…and done a lot o' things I never done before." 

And she sings all of "Shall We Dance" as "Should We Dance." But the moment we're all obsessed with is when the vamp to Jesus Christ Superstar's "Heaven On The Minds" starts playing and she sings Fiddler's "Sabbath Prayer" over it. Anyhoo.

Back when the show was running, Andréa and I had the best time in understudy rehearsal (I understudied Brooks Ashmankas), but she never got to on. So, during Gypsy of the Year, she told the audience "In the spirit of this show, I want to show that just because you're an understudy who never gets to go on doesn't mean you won't someday perform your big number on Broadway." She then did the whole number and it brought down ye olde house! She's doing it at Feinstein's/54 Below Dec. 14 as part of her fabulous act. If you're in NYC, try to get a ticket 54Below.org!

Speaking of Andréa, I was backstage with her former In The Heights co-star (and composer) Lin-Manuel Miranda and we were talking about how fun it is to have friends on Broadway when you're doing a show. He said he loves stopping by On Your Feet! to have coffee with Andréa and I can't wait to crash the party when Disaster! opens! Speaking of which, I consider all the readers of this column my friends so I have no shame in offering the "Friends and Family" discount code I got from the Disaster! producer! You can get cheap tickets all through previews (starting February 9th!) by going here and putting in the code Fan1!

Backstage with Lin and Andréa
Backstage with Lin and Andréa

P.S. If you haven't seen how hi-lar Andréa is, here is one of our Obsessed! videos where she recreates her Jerome Robbins Broadway audition that decidedly did not get her the job. 

And finally, speaking of Lin, I just saw that there's a video of the big benefit I was in where we saluted Lin and Tommy Kail by "auditioning" to replace in Hamilton. It's the original cast and guest appearances by people like me, Steve Pasquale, Josh Henry and it's so great! Watch, then peace out! 


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