End of second week of previews. I definitely didn't realize how hard it would be! Regular rehearsals were easier because they were over by 6 and lots of stuff could get done at night, but now when rehearsals are over, we have to do a show and I'm also spending any free time brainstorming with Jack about little fixes and I’m still doing my SiriusXM radio show.
Anyhoo, the good news is, the show is going great! That's not to say there haven't been mistakes. Here are two highlights: Manoel Felciano who was amazing as Tobias in Sweeny Todd (and got a Tony nomination) plays a cab driver in one of the first scenes, and Lacretta Nicole plays Levora Verona, a bankrupt disco diva. The most important thing to point out in her first scene is that she has no money…that's why she's at the casino. She's desperate to win some cash. She comes running on, and he runs after her while busting her for not paying her cab fare. Well, at one performance Lacretta ran on and instead of Mano yelling, "Ma'am, when you take a cab ride, you gotta pay for it!" he yelled "Ma'am! When you pay for a cab ride-…" and stopped short. Silence. It was literally the reverse. The whole point is supposed to be that she doesn't pay at all. I stood backstage wondering how he would save it. Finally I heard "…you gotta really pay for it." Huh?
A First Look at Broadway's New Musical, Disaster!
Of course, I was feeling haughty about how great I was doing until: It was the beginning of Act Two last Tuesday and I was offstage waiting for my entrance, but taking notes as well. I'm still working on tiny script changes with Jack, plus I'm the music supervisor, so I have to constantly listen to the all the songs to make sure the harmonies/orchestrations/arrangements are working. Anyhoo, right after the first song I wrote down a few notes, then I heard a joke in the next scene that I felt should land but didn't get as big of a laugh as I wanted. Roger Bart was next to me and I told him that I thought it would work if Faith Prince and Kevin Chamberlin were more visible to the audience. Anyhoo, while we were hashing it out, I began to hear yelling. Huh? What was all the noise? Finally, I heard the yelling was "TED!"…which is my character's name. That's right, I had totally missed my entrance! It was after the earthquake and I'm supposed to run on and give some disaster expert advice. So when I didn't enter, Rachel York said "I wish someone would come and help us!" I still didn't arrive so they all began to simply yell my name. Not only that, but the sound person expected me to be onstage saying my lines and had my mic turned on. So the audience got to hear "Ted" say loudly, "I think it would work if Faith and Kevin were more visible to the audience." Yay?
I had Travis Kent, Maggie McDowell and Olivia Phillip on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM talk show. They're the three ensemble people who are making their Broadway debut in Disaster! Olivia is from London and did Sister Act and Book of Mormon there. She said the big difference between Broadway and London is that you don't have to be in the union on the West End. Olivia said that there was really no way to make any work condition changes because actors had no power. And the West End minimum for actors is £518-£633 which is around $730-$900 a week as opposed to Broadway where it's $1861. We're number one!
Olivia is able to work here because she petitioned and was granted an "Extraordinary Artist" green card. She worked with the South Park creators on Book of Mormon, and Dave Stewart from The Eurythmics on Ghost. She had to get letters from them extolling her talent, and she did. However, her lawyer wrote her and told her that it would be great if Dave Stewart re-worded something in the letter her sent. Olivia didn't read what her lawyer wanted fixed and instead just forwarded it to Dave. He wrote her back an email telling her that he indeed thinks she's very talented but he couldn't write that her performance as the Whoopi Goldberg character in Ghost was "better than Whoopi Goldberg's." She was mortified!
Some of the cool things happening at Disaster! are as follows: We're going to be on The Today Show during the Kathie Lee/Hoda hour. We're doing so many live performances! First, four times during the hour—when they go to a commercial—we're going to do highlights from song. Then, in the middle of the hour, we're going to perform a big, fat medley from the show. Our first TV appearance! Set ye olde Betamaxes.
Also, we have rush seats before the show that sell for $30 during the day of the performance. I got to the theatre early on Sunday to rehearse for The Today Show and there was a line of people waiting to buy rush seats. I felt so "Ham4Ham!"
And so many cool people came to the show. During intermission on Saturday, Juli called me in my dressing room to tell me that two stars from Impractical Jokers were in the audience. We are both Obsessed with that show. It’s like Candid Camera… four real life friends film themselves pulling pranks on each other. If you’ve never watched, take a gander:
Anyhoo, I told Juli to run up to them and ask them to come backstage after the show. They met me onstage afterwards and were so, so nice. They said they randomly decided to see a show that night and loved the logo of the disco ball in the life preserver. Then they googled the show and saw it had 70s music and decided to buy tickets. Anyhoo, they loved it and were so crazily complimentary. We took a pic by the pile of rats that (spoiler alert) eat and kill Mano Felciano.
The most amazing thing was Betty Buckley coming to see the show.
I cannot tell you how obsessed I was with her since I was a teenager. If I had just met her back then I would have passed out. The fact that she got to see me star in a Broadway show I co-wrote was an incredible feeling. Here's my deconstruction of her very first song on Broadway:
And here's something totally obscure: me deconstructing the reading of Drood where she sings "The Writing On The Wall." So amazing.
Finally, we got some amazing coverage in The New York Times. First, they had someone follow all the new Broadway shows on a Tuesday…and it happened to be our first preview.
Then Charles Isherwood wrote a great article about the spring season and what an eclectic bunch of shows are opening. He wrote such nice things about Disaster! including "If you're going down with the ship, it's hard to imagine more blissful company." Still got it!!!
And, finally, there was a profile written about me for the Arts and Leisure section. I feel weird reading it, but you can feel free to read it! I do love all the pics they printed!!!!