ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Seth's Easter Bonnet Antics With Ann Harada, Tom Hanks and More

By Seth Rudetsky
29 Apr 2013

Tom Hanks
Photo by Monica Simoes

Lucky Guy is Tom Hanks' first Broadway show and this was his first appearance at Easter Bonnet. He was so funny talking about how people on Broadway are so assumptive. "We began rehearsals January 10. By January 11, everyone started asking me, ‘So, are you going to be at Easter Bonnet?'… like I'm supposed to know what the f--- that is!" He also said he was suffering from a cold and added, "You know what people on Broadway do when they have a cold?" (pause) "Eight shows a week!"

As I mentioned, I got to see the opening night of Pippin! Andrea Martin gave tickets to James and me, and it was thrilling to be there. First of all, I was so blown away that I was sitting in the audience watching Andrea Martin, someone who was one of my all-time comedy idols when I was a kid – who I'm now friends with (!) – stop the show! And when I say "stop the show," I actually mean it. Her song got a full-house standing ovation! In the middle of Act One! How rare is that? I wasn't the only one who was amazed; on the way to the opening night party, we ran into the lovely Jane Krakowski who also couldn't believe how amazing Andrea's number was, and how shocking it was to get a "standing O" before the bows.

Afterwards, Jane and I were chatting by the Minskoff Theatre, and I mentioned that I had auditions at the Minskoff rehearsal studios when I was a kid. Jane said she did, too. Soon, we began to realize what similar childhoods we both had, growing up in the ‘70s as theatre kids. The only difference was when Jane would audition for a show in New York, she'd actually get it. I, instead, would have to endure the depressing ride home with my Dad, stopping only for Blimpie's.

Jane even got to perform in the Miliken Breakfast Show, which, if you don't know, was a full-out variety show put on for clothing buyers and fabric/garment manufacturers. The budget for one of their shows (in the ‘70s) was $2.5 million! That's more than the budget for three Broadway shows combined! They featured the biggest Broadway stars of the day (Chita Rivera, Dorothy Loudon, Donna McKechnie) and were directed by Michael Bennett (and later, Graciela Daniele).

Jane Krakowski at opening night of Pippin.
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Jane, who was cast at age 12, was called a "Milli-kiddie." She said she had a low, raspy voice that people thought was hilarious, so she always got to do a lot of dialogue. She also tapped up a storm with stars like Donald O'Connor. She said the show began at 8 AM, which was horrifyingly early for the cast because most of them were doing Broadway shows at night. One year, the big star was Ginger Rogers, and she'd start her warm-up at 6 AM! I haven't been up that early since I had Drivers Ed before first period.

Jane and I had various experiences/friends in common from back then, but one thing we didn't share was doing Beginnings (later changed to Youngstars). That was an all-kids club act I did for two years. Sarah Jessica Parker, Alison Smith, Ricki Lake and various other kids from Peter Pan and Evita were all in it. Here's an Obsessed video I did with another alum, Kerry Butler!  

On Wednesday, I got to interview Robert Klein for "Seth Speaks," and I loved hearing about his first Broadway show, The Apple Tree, starring Alan Alda and Barbara Harris. He had a tremendous crush on Barbara and remembers taking her out to the park where she told him, "Warren Beatty won't leave me alone." I used to hear the same comments when I was dating, but instead of my prospective boyfriend starting the sentence with "Warren Beatty," he would start it with "Please" and then segue right to "leave me alone." As for They're Playing Our Song, he told me that the role of Vernon was first offered to "The pianist's son." The audience stared blankly, but I realized he meant John Rubenstein (son of Arthur and the original Pippin!).