ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: The Tonys, Ana Gasteyer and Judy Gold

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: The Tonys, Ana Gasteyer and Judy Gold A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

Sutton Foster
Sutton Foster Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

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Happy post-Tony Awards! I spent last night doing a live play-by-play of the CBS broadcast for Sirius/XM with Julie James. Also, my friend Jack Plotnick joined me and added his comments. His range of knowledge was rather focused, though, because the only show he saw this year was The Normal Heart. ME: "Wow! Sutton Foster won!" JACK: "Well, she's no Joe Mantello." OK, that's a lie but we both related to Sutton's speech because she gave an emotional shout-out to her dresser, Julian, whom Jack and I both worked with when we first met! The first big show Jack and I both did in New York was Pageant back in the early '90s and Julian was one of the dressers! Jack and I talked about [AUDIO-LEFT]actors being nominated from the same show and how they don't necessarily always cancel each other out. For instance, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick were both nominated for The Producers and Nathan won. I said that when our show Disaster! gets produced I'm sure we'll both get nominated and I'll win. Jack retorted with, "Yes, but Seth, I'll be nominated for Best Actor." Brava.

Maggie walks (by) the red carpet.

This year the show was at the Beacon Theatre and I was constantly walking by the theatre since it's so near my apartment. When I walked Maggie on Sunday, I had to take a picture of her near the red carpet because I knew it would be the closest she'd get to an awards show. I still feel guilty for curtailing her performing career. Years ago, Bebe Neuwirth was about to film "Tadpole," and she called me because she had to film a scene in Central Park with a dog. She thought Maggie was perfect because she's so sweet and pretty. I went into my full Mama Rose mode and was preparing to put Maggie on a modified Atkins diet so the blogs wouldn't comment on the ten pounds the camera adds, but then Bebe began to describe the scene: "I'll be walking Maggie and let her off the leash. She'll sit with me near a bench and then we'll walk off together." I knew I had to say what the reality would be: "Um, actually Bebe, what will happen is….she'll pull you like crazy while she's on the leash, and then when you let her off, she'll run off chasing a squirrel." Silence. And thus ended Maggie's film career.

Ana Gasteyer
photo by Robb Johnston

This week on my Sirius/XM "Live on Broadway" show I interviewed Ana Gasteyer, who's doing her Feinstein's show tonight (June 13) and next Monday. We discussed her stint in Wicked and I asked her if she enjoyed doing the same show, night after night. Turns out, she loves it. She said that doing "Saturday Night Live" is so fast and panic-filled. Essentially, your goal is simply to "not fail." If you don't completely bomb in a sketch, then it's considered a triumph. Doing a long run is so enjoyable to her because there're so many chances to perfect specific moments. Of course, she said, it also leads to obsessive behavior and perfectionism. Ana told us that even though people think "Defying Gravity" is the hard song to sing, the part of the show that Elphabas dread is the last note of "The Wizard and I." It's on a C, which a lot of women find not quite high or low enough to sing well, plus it's Elphaba's first number so there's pressure to impress the audience, plus the staging involves dealing with suitcases. Speaking of suitcases, I'm currently sitting in Terminal A at Newark Airport. I'm on my way down to Raleigh to do a master class and my show at the Kennedy Theater, which is run by Lauren Kennedy. Since I'm in North Carolina tonight, I can't see Ana's show at Feinstein's, but I'm going next week. It's called Elegant Songs From a Handsome Woman and the title is based on her obsession with that term. First of all, she told me that when she was a teen, someone asked her teacher what a "handsome woman" was. There was a pause and then the teacher answered, "Barbra Streisand is a handsome woman." Then, recently, her mom told her, in all seriousness, "Ana…you're developing into quite a handsome woman." She was horrified her mother would use that term with her and even more mortified that she also used the gerund "developing." It's like a sentence from a Judy Blume book, but instead of being about Sally J. Friedman it features a woman in her 40s. Here's ticket info to Ana's show.  And if you missed my Playbill Obsessed video with her, here 'tis!

Seth with Jenny Powers
photo by Robb Johnston

I also interviewed the stunning Broadway couple Matt Cavenaugh (West Side Story and Off-Broadway's current Death Takes a Holiday) and Jenny Powers (Grease and Off-Broadway's Happiness). Check out our dueling biceps on the picture! I asked how they met and Matt told me they both had teeny roles in The Secret Garden concert that Jamie McGonnigal put on a few years ago. After rehearsal one day, Matt asked Jenny out for coffee and she said yes. After the date she told him she already had a boyfriend. "What the H took so long?," I asked, and she claimed she didn't want to presume anything when he first asked her out. I glared. Jenny said it took nine months for her to break off her relationship and finally start dating Matt, which then led to their marriage. And to their CD! By the way, not only did Matt and Jenny meet (and get married) doing that concert, but so did Laura Benanti and Steven Pasquale. What is it with that show? Juli just did the kids' version of Secret Garden and if she winds up going out for ice cream with the kid who played Colin, I'm going to start giving Lucy Simon's phone number to all my single friends. I had Judy Gold on my new Sirius/XM talk show, "Seth Speaks," and she was so much fun. She's in rehearsals for her new Off-Broadway show Judy Gold: My Life as a Sitcom which opens July 6 at the DR2. I know Judy because when she was a producer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," I was a comedy writer, but I realized I didn't know much about her early life. She told me that she went to college as a piano major (!), and Rutgers is where she started her comedy career. Her dorm did Secret Santa (where people secretly buy each other presents during December) but before you got your present, you had to do a dare. One day her Secret Santa wrote that she had to do a ten-minute stand-up act making fun of people in her dorm. There was a lounge on her floor where she did her "act" and Judy said that the feeling she got from everyone laughing made her realize that comedy is what she wanted to do more than anything else. She started going into to New York and doing open mics where she'd see "up and comers" like Ray Romano and Jerry Seinfeld. I asked her what some of her jokes were and she remembers stealing an enormous spoon from the cafeteria. She'd hide it in the back of her pants and say, "People don't know it, but I'm a major coke fiend. Yeah, this is my coke spoon" and she'd pull out the crazy ladle. So stupid but funny! She has two children; her then-partner Sharon gave birth to her first one. Back in the late '90s, when Madonna came on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," she was holding a baby during the interview. Rosie then said, "By the way, Madonna, everyone thinks you're holding your new baby, Lourdes, but you're actually holding the baby of one of our producers. That's Henry, Judy Gold's kid!" Cut to: Judy Gold's mother's phone ringing off the hook with "Judith has a baby?!?!?!" Judy wasn't out as a lesbian yet so her mother would tell people, "Well, Judith's roommate had a baby. And…Judith decided to adopt it." Judy's obsessed with that stretch of reality. Who adopts their roommate's baby? Judy then continues her mother's logic by saying, "Her roommate always picks up the mail whenever Judith is out of town, so Judith felt she should return the favor by adopting her child." A few years later, Judy got pregnant and she claims this is how her mother told her friends about it: (Said very slowly) "Judith was walking down the street, (speeding up) there was a hypodermic needle flying around, it had some sperm on it, it stuck Judith in her privates, (slowly and proudly) and now she's pregnant!" Her website is www.JudyGold.com and here's the Playbill Obsessed video I did with her where she not only tells a hilarious story about her mother, but she plays an actual answering machine message!

This week is the official reading of my Disaster! musical and next week I start my weekly forays to Provincetown to do my show at the Art House! I'm performing every week and I'm doing a Broadway series up there as well. Go to PtownArtHouse.com for deets. And peace out!

(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.)

Jenny Powers, Seth and Matt Cavenaugh and all their biceps
Jenny Powers, Seth and Matt Cavenaugh and all their biceps Photo by Robb Johnston
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