ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Caroline Rhea, Nick Jonas, Tony Sheldon and Maggie

By Seth Rudetsky
06 Feb 2012

Nick Jonas, Seth and Juli
Nick Jonas, Seth and Juli

A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

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Let me start with fun stuff from this week: I went out to brunch on the Upper West Side this Sunday, and when I entered the Fairway cafe, I heard my name called. Turns out, Caroline Rhea was sitting down to brunch and called me over. We hadn't seen each other since her daughter was a baby. She immediately pulled up a photo on her phone, but told me not to make fun. She wasn't nervous that I'd make fun of her daughter, she was nervous I'd make fun of her cellphone. Wowza. It was such an old-school phone that I wound up being miffed I didn't see the cord that plugged it into the phone jack. She told me that she had lost the phone recently and when she went to get a new one the store told her she could have an upgrade — but she insisted on getting the one she'd always had. They went into shock because it pretty much looks like that same one the kids used when they sang "The Telephone Hour" in Bye Bye Birdie. She won't get an iPhone because she tried one once and told me that after she pushed one letter, out came a paragraph. She told me that "since she refuses to get lipo on her fingers," she's keeping this one. She then mentioned that she recently filmed Nathan Lane's new TV show. It featured her, Jackie Hoffman, Debra Monk, Nathan Lane and Andrea Martin.

At "Seth Speaks" (On SiriusXM Stars 107, Monday 7 PM-9 PM, Tuesdays 11 AM-1 PM), I interviewed Nick Jonas who's currently starring How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. First of all, hopefully nobody from Juli's school will listen because I picked her up for "an appointment" right before the taping and then dropped her back at school two hours later. I didn't keep it under wraps very well because I wound up letting Juli ask him a question during the interview. She asked him what the craziest thing a fan had ever asked him and he immediately remembered the time a fan approached him and asked him…to punch her! He refused. I, however, wonder if it was Lea Michele asking him to audition for the film version of Spring Awakening (Whipping scene? Anyone?) By the way, How to Succeed is not his Broadway debut; he did Beauty and the Beast, Annie Get Your Gun and Les Miz many years ago when he was just a little boy (AKA ten years ago). As a matter of fact, his Broadway gig is what made him a pop star. Every year Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS puts out a CD called "Carols For a Cure" which features different Broadway shows singing holiday songs. When he was 11 and doing Beauty and The Beast, "Carols for a Cure" featured a song he wrote. One of his neighbors showed the song to a record executive and that got Nick his first record deal when he was 13. I pointed out that at age 13, I was simply getting my bar mitzvah. But, on a side note, I'm sure my bar mitzvah performance had 80 percent more scooping and vibrato than his first two CDs combined. Liza with a Cha'i? And speaking of vibrato and pop music, Betty Buckley did an amazing Twitter rant about "American Idol"'s constant dishing of Broadway and vibrato. There is a myth that rock/pop singers don't use vibrato and it's a total lie. My favorite quote of Betty's is "Broadway is a place, not a style." Brava! Read what she wrote here



Back to Nick: In the '90s, he was cast in a small role in Madison Square Garden's A Christmas Carol. He was also an understudy for Tiny Tim but it was assumed he'd never go on. Cut to: he had to go on and had no rehearsal. He knew his part but when the lights hit him, he got so nervous that he didn't sing for around 16 bars of music. That day, he told us that he made a solemn vow to never to be nervous again. He was 7. Really? When I was 7, I vowed never to pee in my pants again. The vow lasted two days.

P.S., I busted him because I watched the Les Miz 25th anniversary video and he relentlessly hauls out a not-since-Madonna British accent! Nick revealed that he was told to sing in a British accent! Even though the show takes place in France. And he's from New Jersey. Get more about "Seth Speaks" by joining its Facebook page

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