Greetings from high above the ground! I'm on a flight from San Antonio to New York City, and right before I boarded the flight I got a text from my friend Tim telling me he had a Seth Rudetsky-esque airport experience because his flight to Chicago was just cancelled. I read it as I was settling into my seat on the plane and was about to sass him back, defending my travelling experiences, when the flight attendant announced that we all needed to get off the plane because the flight was being delayed for three hours.
Anyhoo, three hours later, I'm back on the plane again, headed for the big city. I was down here to see the regional premiere of James' play Unbroken Circle which just opened at the Woodlawn Theatre. Opening night went great! I thought the cast was excellent, and it was so exciting to hear all the laughs from the audience and then the literal gasps during Act Two. During intermission, several members of the audience approached James and revealed that they were victims of sexual abuse, which happened many times when the show was running in NYC. And afterwards, someone came up to us afterwards and revealed that she was dreading seeing Unbroken Circle because she knew it was about generational sexual abuse and she didn't want to be brought down, but she was so surprised there were so many laughs and at how quickly the show moved. Yay! I love that James was able to write a show that's informative to an audience and so moving to people who were abuse victims, yet was able to keep it so flat-out entertaining. Brava!
This was a big week for Andrea Martin! First of all, last Sunday was her final performance in the Broadway production of Pippin. She played Pippin's grandmother, Berthe, in the new revival (and won a Tony Award for it) and came back for just a few weeks before she begins a short run in San Francisco and Los Angeles. We went to see her sing "No Time At All," and it was so wonderful. She was crying during the end of her number and I was so moved... until I suspected she was pulling a Barbra. Meaning, I've heard the bootleg of Barbra's final performance of Funny Girl and in the middle of "People," you can hear her break down. I mentioned it to someone involved in the original production and told her how moved I was and she looked at me cynically and said, "Well, Barbra always knew how to time her tears." Ouch! I asked Andrea if she was faking it and she assured me she wasn't. Or rather she said, "Unlike Debra Monk, I can't cry on cue." Leave it to Andrea to answer with an insult to herself and praise to someone else's acting ability.
Speaking of Andrea's abilities, her wonderful book just came out and got written up by People magazine as one of the best books of the fall! I'm so excited for her. James and I had to deal with months of, "Oh my god! Why did I say yes to this book contract? I have nothing to write about!" followed by, "I know I have to write at least one chapter about SCTV but I can't remember anything." Andrea asked me to come over and help jog her memory. She also wanted the chapter to satisfy fans of SCTV (which she knows I am). I emailed my friends to ask them what they would want to know from Andrea about SCTV and wound up, as usual, getting sassed by Tim. I wrote to him and my good friend, Anne Martin. All of us used to obsessively watch SCTV while we were at Oberlin because Anne had taped two marathons that were on TV in the mid-80's and then brought the tapes to college. The Oberlin conservatory library had a VCR and the three of us would watch every sketch and memorize our favorite ones. I wrote an email to both of them that said, "Greetings SCTV fans! Andrea is writing a book and the only chapter she hasn't written is the SCTV one. I'm going over there on Monday to work with her for hours... asking her questions and helping her write the chapter. I want it to be interesting to fans. Would you guys send me some questions you have about SCTV? What you'd be interested in knowing if you were reading her book???"
Anne sent a list of questions and Tim, not surprisingly, sassed me by emailing back: "Why are you writing A) as if you don't really know us and B) as if human communication is unfamiliar to you?"
Busted. Anyhoo, I helped Andrea with that chapter as well as her amazing chapter about her many Broadway shows. James helped her with the editing of the book and, at one point, salvaged the whole thing. What do I mean? Well, while she was in tech for Act One, and, during a break, suddenly couldn't find the book on her laptop. Mind you, she is as computer savvy as my mother, which is to say as computer savvy as Betsy Ross would be if she were suddenly brought back to life and placed directly in front of a MacBook Pro (i.e. not at all). Andrea called her son in a panic, but also knowing that he'd be able to tell her to relax and easily explain where the book is. Throughout the whole writing process, she was constantly in a panic the she would accidentally delete everything, but she also knew it was pretty impossible to do that. He asked her to try a basic search. Nothing. He tried another tactic. Nothing. Another. Nothing. He then told Andrea that, as impossible as it was, she had completely deleted any and all evidence of her book. In totality. The "fun" part was, she had to go immediately back to her tech rehearsal.
She frantically called us and we showed up backstage at Lincoln Center and went directly to her dressing room. The squawk box was on so we heard what was happening onstage, which was super enjoyable (this is opposite day) because it was one tedious hour of the director lighting around seven lines of dialogue. James was cool as a cucumber because he had a small thumb drive with him. Yes, the day before, we had all met at a restaurant to go through a section of her book and, just to be safe, James had saved the whole thing on his thumb drive. The book was found! And, FYI, Andrea still doesn't understand Ctrl+S.
We all went backstage during Pippin intermission and before Andrea got into her second act costume, we decided to take a photo with Charlotte d'Amboise to promote the book. We put Andrea Martin's "Ladyparts" over Andrea Martin's ladyparts. Take a gander! By the time we were done, it was "places." We ran with her to the wings and she told us to take a photo of her right before she began her final Act Two. Juli took the picture and literally right after the camera clicked, the curtain rose and Andrea was onstage. Look!
I interviewed the supremely talented Margo Seibert on my SiriusXM talk show, "Seth Speaks." First of all, she pronounces her last name "Sigh-bert." She offered no explanation as to why, and I offered no promise I would pronounce it that way. I saw her in Rocky where she played Adrian and it reminded me of my first time seeing Euan Morton. I'm referring to the fact that I had never seen Euan until I saw Taboo and had no expectation of what kind of performance he'd give. Within five minutes, I knew I was seeing an incredibly special performance being given by an extremely talented man. With Margot, I felt the same way. I loved her sweetness and vulnerability in the first pet store scene and then I loved her voice on Ahrens and Flaherty's haunting song, "Raining." Watch!
I had Margo on the "Chatterbox" two weeks before and had her sing that song at the end of the show. You can watch the whole thing on SethTV.com! I asked Margo about getting Rocky and she told me that she auditioned without ever having seen the film. She got call backed after her first audition, but had to go back a total of eight times! She got to audition with Andy eventually and felt really connected to him but wound up mortifying herself at one point; she got a note after an audition that she seemed to "spunky" for the role and needed to tone that down. She was waiting outside the audition room with Andy and told him about the too-much-spunk note and joked that she was going to run to the restroom and "wash the spunk off" of herself. She was immediately horrified at the double meaning... and then had to audition with him. The good news is, she got the part! And the better news is, she's doing her own show at 54 Below. Go see her because she's a really special performer. Get tix here.
Yesterday, I sent Audra a photo of Juli because her daughter Zoe got similar black glasses.
Audra wrote back: "She's so beautiful." I then wrote back; "Back atcha. Zoe, that is. Not you. You're hideous." And she immediately sent me this photo from her performance in Sweeney Todd. So hilarious!!
And, finally, to my fellow Jews, Happy New Year! As Jackie Hoffman says, "Already a new year? I don't know about you, but I keep writing 5754 on my checks!"
(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.)