Latest travel headaches? Sure! First, I forgot to write about the train ride I had scheduled to take me to Philadelphia for a gig two weeks ago. James did me a favor and set up the Amtrak tickets for me. Of course, I was running late and got in a cab around 1:30 to make the 2 PM train. On the way there, James called to tell me that even though we had been saying the whole week I was on a 2 PM train, he realized that the ticket he bought me was for a different train…one that left at 1:15 PM! I don't know how we both decided the train was at 2 PM, but it was like the Nazi big lie technique; we both kept repeating that time so often that it became the truth.
The "fun" part was that James checked the Amtrak website for additional trains and they were all sold out! He decided to rent a car and drive me down to Philly. I decided to double-check and saw that the sold out trains were all regular Amtrak and there was indeed an Acela I could get on. Ah! It all worked out. Except the mortification of having to tell the producer of my gig that I missed my train because I didn't know what time it left. And the incredibly short tech rehearsal I had to have because I got there much later. And the extra $100 I had to spend to get the Acela ticket. And the gigabytes I used on my iPhone by googling "quickie divorce."
Speaking of iPhones, I had a JetBlue flight last week to take me from New York to Ft. Lauderdale for my show with Sutton Foster at the Parker Playhouse. I checked my iPhone that morning and saw that it left at 8:30 PM. An 8:30 flight means I have to leave at 6:30 PM to get to the airport. Well, for some reason, at around 6:10, I decided to double-check what time my flight left. Turns out, it was not an 8:30 flight… it was a 7:30 flight! Ah! It was already way later than the time I should leave! I fled into a cab and tried to figure out what the H happened. I still don't know for sure, but the flight was definitely entered in my iPhone as leaving at 8:30! I think JetBlue has this new thing where they do you the "favor" of putting the flight info into your phone. But I think they did it when I was in a different time zone so when I came back to eastern time, the phone made it an hour later. In conclusion, I hate my iPhone. I didn't ask it to change my calendar to a different time zone! Just like when I start writing a sentence, I want to push the capital button. I don't want the iPhone to automatically make it a capital letter so when I push the capital button it makes it a lower case letter! So annoying!
I think Nathan Lane said it best in the courtroom scene during The Producers when Matthew Broderick was confirming to the court that "we all know Max Bialystock is a lying, cheating, unscrupulous…" and he interrupted and yelled "Don't help me!" Thankfully, my show in April is in the Poconos and they're sending a car. Delish! Come see me deconstruct The Osmonds singing Fiddler on the Roof. For reals! This week on SiriusXM's ‘Seth Speaks" I had Alicia Witt who has the combo career of a singer/pianist and TV/film actress (Currently on "Justified," but she began way back as Cybill Shepard's daughter on "Cybil.") Her very first TV gig was on that 80's classic "That's Incredible." I loved that show!!!! She was featured because she was able to do the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene….at the age of five. As a joke, I asked her if John Davidson was her Romeo and I was right! Watch! Because of that performance, she was cast in David Lynch's "Dune." They wanted a four-year-old kid for the film who was able to speak like an adult and her balcony scene was a perfect audition. Of course, by the time she did the film, she was seven so as opposed to Tom Cruise who apparently does his film scenes with lifts in his shoes, she did her entire scene on her knees. Watch here! (She enters around 50 seconds in.)
I also had Tom Antopietro on the show who just wrote "The Sound of Music Story," which is such a fun book all about the making of "The Sound of Music" film. It also covers the making of the Broadway show and one of things we talked about is that fact that the original musical was going to be Jersey Boys-esque. Yes, it was originally conceived as a jukebox musical! But instead of having a score featuring Four Seasons hits like "You're Just Too Good To Be True" and "Oh, What A Night," it was going to feature Trapp Family Singers hits like "Die Dorfman" and "Hayalda Hachi Yafa Bagan." Anybody? Nichtbody.
The producers decided to add one new song to the mix and asked Rodgers and Hammerstein to compose it. R&H (as they're called by cool theatre people) told them the show should either feature existing songs only or it should have an all-new score. The producers, of course, wanted an all-new score if the great R&H would write it, but they were busy working on Flower Drum Song. R&H asked if they would wait a year and the producers said it was no problem. I guess they thought it would be more believable for Mary Martin to be 46 years old while playing an innocent virginal nun as opposed to 45. PS, I love that no one batted an eye about her age. It's totally what Christine Ebersole told me Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman used to joke about: When she turned 45, they told her to say she was "Broadway 35, Hollywood 60." When she was 60, they told her to say she was "Broadway 45, Hollywood in memorium."
Tom also talked about the opening shot in the film when Julie Andrews is on the hill, spinning and singing the title song. The shot couldn't be filmed from inside the helicopter because the shadow would be seen on the hill, so they had to remove the helicopter door and have the cameraman hang outside! Talk about "That's Incredible"! And every time the helicopter turned, the crazy wind would make Julie fall into the grass so her hair, makeup and costume would have to be refreshed between shots. Was it worth it? YES! Watch! (PS - The birch trees that she so lovingly caresses were brought in for the filming and then removed right after.)
And, even though so much of the filming in Austria was difficult due to weather delays, Julie Andrews remained incredibly professional throughout it all. Of course, when they finally finished overseas and she had to film her last first scenes in LA, she became, what we call in my family, "over-tired." Turns out, she and Christopher Plummer could not stop giggling during their romantic scene before "Something Good" so the director finally had not choice but to film them in shadow! Look!
Rarely-Seen Photos From the Sound of Music Film Set and Recording Studio
Marni Nixon also joined Tom on my SiriusXM show and she talked about playing Sister Sophia. She demonstrated her solo and the crazy amount of air she needed for "When I'm with her I'm confused, out of focus and bemused, and I never know exactly where I aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam!" I asked her if it was delicious to play a nun and not have to worry about make-up and she told me it was the opposite! She has really light lashes and wanted makeup or lash extensions put on so they'd appear on camera. They told her forget it.
Well, trickster-style, she snuck back into the make-up room and applied some mascara. She rushed to set and began the scene where the Nazis search the abbey and found out that Robert Wise, the director, had decided to give her a close-up. Marni said that the lights were super bright and that always makes her blink a lot so when the camera filmed her "I'm a nun who hopes the Nazis don't find Maria" face, her non-stop blinking also revealed her "I'm a nun who just applied a ton of Maybeline" face. The make-up proved her ruination and her close-up was cut! However, there is some great footage of Marni. The producers asked her to record some songs from the film for when the songs were dubbed by foreign singers for release in foreign territories. This would show them the musical phrasings so they could copy it. She said she did it reading from lyric sheets because she thought the whole thing was just being audio recorded... but it was also filmed! She looks and sounds great! Watch!
There was so many more amazing stories in the book. Get it here and enjoy!
(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.)