ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Michael McGrath at the Chatterbox and Alice Ripley in P-Town

By Seth Rudetsky
04 Sep 2012

Alice Ripley
Dirty Sugar Photography
I had Alice Ripley in Provincetown this weekend, and we had a great time. She not only sang "I Miss The Mountains" from Next to Normal, she also sang "I've Been," which is one of the songs Dan (the husband) sings. Alice loves singing his song and compares it to dancers who know not to continually do the same step on the same side over and over because it makes your muscles uneven. She feels that singing Dan's point of view balances herself.

We first talked about Side Show, and Alice said that she and Emily Skinner were side-by-side eight hours a day in rehearsal for weeks and that's why, no matter what, they'll always share a special closeness. However, eight hours a day, side-by-side, also resulted in a different end of the day than what Alice was used to. Usually, when rehearsals end in the late afternoon, Alice will hang out with her fellow actors. Instead, she and Emily were like, "It's 6 o'clock. See 'ya!" They needed severe breaks every night. Alice said they were both like, "I've been smelling your sweat all day long. Take care."

Speaking of closeness, she and Lea DeLaria shared a dressing room during The Rocky Horror Show. Lea played Dr. Scott/Eddie, and when Alice played Daisy Mae in Li'l Abner at Encores!, Lea played Marryin' Sam. Alice said that one day she came into the dressing room and gave Lea a kiss on the cheek and thought, "Wow! So smooth. Lea really got a close shave today." Then she thought, "Wait. Lea's not a man."

Varla Jean Merman
photo by Rex Bonomelli

Speaking of which, when I was in Provincetown, I saw two amazing performers: Varla Jean Merman (Jeff Roberson) and Miss Ritchfield 1981 (Russ King). Varla did an amazing version of "Que Sera, Sera." The first verse was (As Varla) When I was just a little girl. I asked my mother what will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be rich? Here's what she said to me…(yelling as her mother) How the hell would I know? I'm not a psychic! (pause) Get me a vodka. (Then back to her voice.) What will be, will be.

Miss Ritchfield 1981 came out and immediately told everyone how happy she was to be in "Providence-town." Then she added, "I guess I love Maine!" She was so hilarious when she talked to the audience. She told one woman to stand up, and as soon as she did, Miss Ritchfield looked at her hair and said sympathetically, "I know…the humidity." Then she asked for single people in the audience to raise their hand. She found one named Jim from Staten Island who was retired, and she tried to set him up with another single in the audience named Matt. Matt wasn't interested because he said he didn't like people from New York. Miss Ritchfield then told him, "Well, you're in luck because most people don't consider Staten Island part of New York." Then she told Jim he was probably still single because he's picky. "Jim, face facts; you live on Staten Island, you're on a fixed income…my advice? Settle!"

On Sept. 14 I'm going to Buffalo to do Seth's Big Fat Broadway ! Get thee to http://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/includes/events/index.cfm?action=displayDetail&eventid=62400 for tickets. And, happy back-to-school!

(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.)