ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Shooting "Bunheads"; Plus, My Entrepreneurial Life

By Seth Rudetsky
04 Feb 2013

Seth and Sutton at the chilly Los Angeles "Bunheads" set.

We were swapping theatre stories including one where Marco recounted waiting by the stage door of Sweeney Todd back in 1979 when he was a teen. When one of the stars emerged, Marco asked for an autograph, and the star raced past him saying, "I don't have time for this." Marco was devastated but then felt a tap on his shoulder and heard a British voice warmly say "I have time for this…" That's right, it was Angela Lansbury! Who says the Brits are stiff and cold? (Answer: Anyone who's visited London).

The next day I got to the church (or "location" as we say in the biz) and I found my trailer. I immediately perused the amazing craft service area and ordered an egg white omelet with lots of veggies. And that was the last of my healthy eating. For the next two days, I couldn't resist the crazy amounts of delicious/fattening choices that were available every minute. It culminated on the final day when Amy Sherman Palladino (who created "Gilmore Girls" and "Bunheads") stopped me, pointed to my plate and asked, "Your lunch is simply two giant chocolate chip cookies?" Answer: Yes it was.

Back to the first day; Right after my omelet, I was summoned to the set to rehearse. Even though it was supposedly L.A., it was freezing! Right after rehearsal, the costumer looked at all the clothes I had brought from home and chose black jeans and one of my favorite sweaters, which I wore seven years ago when I played Arnold in Torch Song Trilogy. Thankfully, it still fits (-ish)!

That day's Seth Rudetsky-induced disaster was the fact that I decided to take my gum out of my mouth while practicing lines in my trailer. I then went to the makeup trailer and another actor gasped when he saw me. Turns out, after I took the gum out of my mouth, I put it near my chair and then promptly sat on it. And when I got up, it stre-e-e-etched. That's right, I had embedded gum across both butt cheeks. Off came the pants and the wardrobe department had to put ice on it and slowly pick it off. Sadly, I immediately put them back on and then realized pants need to dry when they've had ice directly applied to them. The result was me walking around for an hour in what felt like a wet diaper. Yay?

Seth with Amy Sherman Palladino and Sutton Foster

We were supposed to film my first scene that day, but there was a big open call dance segment that had to be done first and wound up taking the whole day and evening to shoot. I had the "fun" part of being in the background for that entire shoot. We broke at around 9:30 PM and I went home and got up the next morning to have breakfast with Jack Plotnick, Marissa Jaret Winokur and Lucy Lawless. Marissa, Lucy and I met doing Grease when Marissa was in the chorus and Lucy was playing Rizzo on a break from "Xena The Warrior Princess." Lucy looked exactly the same as 15 years ago and Marissa looked like she had lost a ton of weight. Why? Because she had lost a ton of weight. She just had her 40th birthday and decided to get down to her "Dancing With the Stars" weight. Well, she wound up going further and further down and she looks great! Bye-bye Tracey Turnblad. Suffice it to say, if she did Hairspray again she'd now have to play the title role. That's right, she'd literally be playing a tall, skinny can of hairspray (without the tall part).

The second day I got to the set and was confident I had my first scene memorized but I was a nervous about knowing all of my second scene because Amy had changed some lines. I knew that the first scene would take a few hours to film and I planned to use that time to memorize the second. Of course, as soon as I got to the set we started shooting the second scene! I was sort of a nervous wreck, but Amy (who not only wrote the episode but was also directing!) was super-sweet and supportive. It took place outside the area where Sutton's character goes to the open call and we filmed it around 15 times from all different angles. Because Amy is a fan of mine, she asked me to make the lines more Seth-like and, of course, I added something about Sutton singing in the mask with full vibrato. Which, P.S., I think are the same terms I use when I talk to Katharine McPhee in my upcoming "Smash" episode. Plus, instead of me telling Sutton she sounded great, Amy asked me do one final take telling her she sounded "amahzing." And yes, I used that catchphrase in my "Smash" episode, too. If it ain't broke… (P.S., is "broke" the same thing as "overused"? Because that it is.)