Why Stephanie J. Block (Accidentally) Ignored Emails From Cher

Seth Rudetsky   Why Stephanie J. Block (Accidentally) Ignored Emails From Cher
 
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth learns how The Cher Show’s Block first emailed with the icon, what Micaela Diamond thought when she tried on Cher’s clothes—plus a crazy onstage injury story from Lillias White.
Stephanie J Block, Seth Rudetsky, Micaela Diamond, Teal Wicks
Stephanie J Block, Seth Rudetsky, Micaela Diamond, Teal Wicks

Hello from NY! I’m here for a few more days and then I head off to L.A. for a while. One of the first things I’m doing there is my show, Rhapsody In Seth, at Largo on Monday February 18. I’ve been looking through all my old publicity from when the show ran Off-Broadway and found this amazing review from Theatermania. For someone who doesn’t read reviews, I can’t stop reading this! “Funny as it is poignant…a star who is compelling, endearing and inherently hilarious. You will not likely see another one-person show this year to equal its humor and humanity.”

In the show, I cover my entire childhood (including ye olde lawsuit against my high school. Don’t cross me, b*tches!) and there are so many hilarious/mortifying theatre experiences I recount—like playing the lead in Whose Life Is It, Anyway?. What was mortifying, you ask? Well, I played a famous artist who becomes completely paralyzed from the neck down and then fights for the right to commit suicide. Unfortunately, we did it in my high school’s so-called “Little Theater,” which didn’t have a curtain. So, after playing all of Act 1 totally paralyzed in my bed there’d be a complete blackout…with just enough light for the entire audience to see me get out of bed and scurry off the stage. Yes, my brother yelled from the audience “He can walk!” Here I am…paralyzed and in full make-up.

Seth Rudetsky_high school

Get tickets for Rhapsody In Seth in L.A. here.

This week on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM radio show, I interviewed all three Chers from The Cher Show. If you don’t know, there are three women playing Cher at various stages of her career: Micaela Diamond is Babe, Teal Wicks is Lady, and Stephanie J. Block is Star.

Micaela told me that she had a final callback for the show and then timidly walked over to casting director, Bernie Telsey. She told him that she knew she didn’t have any big credits and that it seemed pushy, but she would really love to know very soon whether or not she got the show. Why? Because she was supposed to leave two days later and start her first semester at college! Yes, she had just graduated high school! Well, Bernie listened to her because Micaela found out she got the gig thirty minutes later! So delicious!

We were talking about the amazing Bob Mackie costumes, and Micaela told me about the costume she wears for the finale, which is a replica of the outfit Cher wore for her Vogue photo shoot with Richard Avedon. When Micaela was at her fitting they told her they didn’t have a mock-up yet…and asked if she wanted to try the original Cher outfit. She yelled yes! She told us that you basically don’t wear underwear with the skirt and she remembers thinking, “OMG. My vagina is touching Cher’s!” To which I replied, “I say that all the time.”

Teal Wicks, Stephanie J. Block and Micaela Diamond in <i>The Cher Show </i>
Teal Wicks, Stephanie J. Block and Micaela Diamond in The Cher Show Joan Marcus

Stephanie J. Block told us that while the Broadway show was in previews, she started getting emails that looked like they were spam but were somehow getting through to her personal account. She assumed they were spam because the email address seemed like a corporate name. It was something like Palmolive@gmail.com. The emails were weird and sparse…like “Hey, girl. I’m coming to the show. ME.” Stephanie immediately put the email in her spam folder and then deleted it. Then it happened again “Did you get my email? I’m coming.” Again, Stephanie deleted it. Why was a corporation so chatty with her? Finally, she got a third email and wrote back “Forgive me. Who is this?” Palmolive@gmail.com wrote back with the same familiarity and lack of info; It’s Me! I’m coming!” Stephanie had had it! She literally wrote: “Who. Is. This?!?!?!” She finally received a more revealing email: “It’s me, Babe. Cher.” Stephanie was like “How was I supposed to know it was you!?! No one told me your alias was basically the name of a soap company!”

Julie James told me a hilarious Stephanie story: Apparently, Stephanie was easily able to do a “Cher voice” when she had to recreate something that Cher had actually said that she could listen to, but she was having difficulty making her other lines sound like Cher. She was practicing before going to sleep and just couldn’t get it right. Finally, she tried again and Sebastian (her husband) from the other room yelled, “That’s it! You finally got it!” Why did she suddenly have that Cher sound after not having it? Because while she was getting ready for bed, she had put in Crest White Strips and then said the lines! Seriously! Having that slight blockage in her mouth gave her the signature Cher sound. Try it!

Speaking of that signature sound, here’s Stephanie at the book release show for Seth’s Broadway Diary, recreating her phone call to Shoshana Bean where she coached her on how exactly to sing “Defying Gravity.” Brava!

I also had the amazing Lillias White on the show to promote her upcoming concert at the Green Room 42 on Valentine’s Day. (Tickets here.) I asked her to tell me one of her favorite co-stars from her 30-plus years on Broadway. Without missing a beat, she told me it was Tony Orlando! Turns out, Tony came in to fill in for Jim Dale when he went on vacation from Barnum. Lillias remembers Tony as "so saucy, so sexy, and so strong.” Werk! For those who didn’t grow up watching 1970s variety shows, here’s a music video for one of his hits…before they made music videos!

Anyhoo, the reason she was in Barnum was because she got cast as Joyce Heth, the "oldest living woman" in the world. For those who don’t know, if a show closes without a week’s closing notice to the cast, the producers have to pay extra money… so sometimes they’ll tell the cast the show is closing and then, if ticket sales increase, they’ll keep it open for another week. Well, Lillias said that the show was on closing notice for ten weeks! Every Tuesday there’d be a closing notice backstage, and then, a few days later, it was taken down. Finally, they knew for sure it was going to be the last week. Lillias was doing the song "Join the Circus" like she always did, but this time, her heel got caught on the stage. She fell on her face and literally heard the audience gasp. However, the-show-must-go-on-style, she got right back up immediately and, “Dr. Theater”-style, didn't feel any pain. However, when she went to raise her arms above her head, one of them wouldn't lift. At all. Turns out, she fractured her elbow! She wound up having to have surgery and her understudy had to go on for the last week of the show. Ugh. If only there had been nine closing notices instead of ten she might have gotten away with an intact elbow.

Anyhoo, while she was at my radio show, she hauled out a sassy blues number with her signature fluid riffs. Here’s a sample of her performance:

Go see her at the Green Room 42! And check out this video she did where she talks about how she learned to sing gospel in college, which later paid off recording Disney’s Hercules.

And now, peace out!

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