Onstage & Backstage: What Should You Say If You See Woody Allen on the Street?

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage & Backstage: What Should You Say If You See Woody Allen on the Street? This week's look into the life of Seth Rudetsky reveals behind-the-scenes secrets from Woody Allen's films and what makeup Kerry Butler keeps in her dressing room.

I 'm back to my signature opening line: Hello from 30,000 feet! I'm on my way to Scottsdale, AZ, to do my deconstructing show and then I hightail it home to do a concert with Christine Ebersole at NJPAC Monday night. And on Wednesday, I'm doing a big book release/performance on 46th Street! My new book, "Seth's Broadway Diary Volume 2," comes out and I'm going to read segments of it with some fabulous co-stars, who are also gonna sing! Mandy Gonzalez, Andrea Burns, Jackie Hoffman, Christopher Sieber, Stephanie J. Block and Ana Gasteyer are all joining me on Wednesday. I had such a great time editing it because there are so many hilarious stories in the book. I loved the section where I talked about Triumph, the insult comic dog doing a comedy show with me, Judy Gold and Caroline Rhea. He busted me amazingly. "It was great to see Seth Rudetsky… which is code for 'Mario Cantone wasn't available.'" Then my SiriusXM radio show. "Satellite radio? My conch shell has more listeners!" Finally, he dished the line-up for the evening. "Judy Gold, Seth Rudetsky, Caroline Rhea! The hottest young comics…of 1994." Get tix to my book release/show (and order a book!) at DressCirclePublishing.com.

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This is a long flight to Arizona and within the first two hours I've demonstrated my typical haughtiness that segued into total mortification: I was sitting, working on my laptop and immediately went into a silent rage because I could hear music coming from somewhere. I did non-stop craning of my neck to find out who had their so-called ear buds turned up so effing loud. Could not wait to bust the person to the flight attendant and demand he tell them to turn it down because the noise was disturbing the passengers. I assumed it was some horrible pop song I didn't know but soon realized I recognized it. Wait…it was "Life of the Party" from The Wild Party. What the-?

I suddenly realized it was coming from MY laptop on my tray table. I was horrified and quickly muted it, hoping no one complained to the flight attendant about me. Phew. It then literally happened again 10 minutes later with the song "Step To The Rear." In conclusion, I'm a horrible person.

Back to my trips: If you're reading this on Monday, come out and see me and Christine Ebersole! We're filming our show for PBS and I'm very excited and on an emergency diet. Here's my deconstruction of her amazing version of "Around The World," which she'll be singing in our concert.

After my Arizona show, I don't do Deconstructing Broadway again til Nov. 23 in Los Angeles at Largo. I love adding new stuff to my show, and I'm considering this bizarre Julie Andrews performance Kevin Chamberlin posted on YouYube.  I just interviewed her on SiriusXM but was too scared to ask her whose idea it was to turn this trio into a solo for fear she'd say, "It was mine. Why?" If you're in L.A. during Thanksgiving week, come to Largo

This week I had Tony Roberts on "Seth Speaks," my SiriusXM talk show. He just came out with a book called "Do You Know Me." He has had such an incredible career! His first big break happened in the 60's because he was dating the female lead in Barefoot in the Park, a lady who would later play Eve Harrington in Applause and Malcolm Gets' mom in A New Brain. Yes, his girlfriend was Penny Fuller, and she was starring opposite Robert Redford. When Redford went on vacation, his understudy was bumped up to the role. Penny told the producer that if they needed a guy to be the new understudy for a week, they should hire her boyfriend. They did indeed hire Tony and, naturally, he didn't expect to go on. Well, there's something called the Broadway Show League, where theatre folk play baseball in Central Park. The cast of Barefoot in the Park was playing and the male lead broke his leg! Tony was suddenly thrust into the lead role! If you love puns, Tony got his big break literally because of a big break. Is anyone laughing? Smiling? Smirking? Glaring.

When Robert Redford left the show, Tony took over and became a legit Broadway leading man. He was then cast in the musical How Now, Dow Jones, a cast album I looooove! Have you seen the Tony Awards performance? Watch!

 I love it so much, I had to deconstruct the amazing harmonies (teaming them up with harmonies from Follies and Mame).

By the way, you'll notice that on the Tony Awards he's known as Anthony Roberts. That was his Broadway name for a long time. Then he went to Hollywood and the powers-that-be told him that, based on research, people don't react well to the name "Anthony," but they love "Tony." Hence he got a new stage name, many years into his career! Is it too late to get rid of my horrible name? And I'm referring to my last name. Would people buy tickets to see "Seth Tony"?

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Speaking of Hollywood, he told us about his long friendship with Woody Allen and why they both call each other "Max" in the film "Annie Hall." Tony said that one day he was walking in Manhattan and saw Woody in the distance. He yelled his name and Woody told him to ixnay. Woody explained that if Tony yells his name, which is pretty uncommon, everyone will notice and come over to him. They decided that Tony should call Woody "Max" in public. That became Woody's nickname for a long time until one day when Woody called Tony and, for some reason, Woody asked, "Is this Max?" Tony immediately said "Yes" and thus they were both called Max. Tony loves that Woody has both characters calling each other Max in the film and doesn't explain it. He said it's something friends do and it feels real to the audience. Speaking of famous people's fake names, when I was working on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" as a comedy writer, we all knew we couldn't blab about Rosie while we were out because the name is pretty uncommon, so we'd call her "Betty." That was, of course, based on the fact that her singing voice is as beautiful as Betty Buckley's. No. It was because Rosie played Betty Rubble in "The Flintstones" film. Megan Mullally told me that when Madonna did "Will and Grace" she found out that none of her friends would ever call her Madonna in public. She was called "M." Hm…I get why she didn't want her friends to yell "Madonna!" in public because it would attract attention. But I think it would attract just as much attention as hearing someone yell, "M! We're sitting over here!" 

Allen and Roberts in "Annie Hall"
Allen and Roberts in "Annie Hall"

I did a really fun show with Kerry Butler at Feinstein's/54 Below and, boy, has she done a lot of Broadway shows. She's had leads in Beauty And The Beast, Hairspray, Rock Of Ages, Little Shop Of HorrorsLes Misérables and Xanadu. She talked about ways to keep a long run fresh. Turns out, she has a whole collection of lip gloss with really fun flavors: Root Beer, Fanta, Sugar Daddy, etc. She'll slather one of them on before a make-out scene and then her co-star will have to guess what flavor she's wearing! Of course, the only long run I ever did was Grease, but I was a pianist in the pit. It would have been weird asking the trombone player next to me to guess what flavor lip gloss I was wearing. Or would it? On that note, 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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