ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Audra McDonald's Bad Hair Day, Frances Ruffelle's Solo Show and Molly Ringwald as an Annie Orphan

By Seth Rudetsky
20 May 2013

Seth and Frances Ruffelle "being Eponine"
Photo by Maryann Lopinto

She originally auditioned for the role by singing a Piaf song and I asked her to do it again at my Chatterbox. You can watch the whole interview and see her sing her audition song at SethTV.com. So good! And then this Wednesday, I'm going to see her do her show at 54 Below! And I did an Obsessed with her where she talked about staging "On My Own" for the first time. She has long arms and didn't know what to do with them when she sang, so she wrapped them around herself because she felt so awkward. Cut to, that became the signature Eponine pose! But it only happened because she didn't know what to do with her "monkey arms"! In the video, I have her create what other poses she might have done had rehearsals been different. Watch!

Last week on "Seth Speaks" I had Molly Ringwald, who just came out with a jazz album! Turns out, she began as a singer and was in the West Coast premiere production of Annie when she was a little girl. She told me she was cast as Kate, and I immediately mentioned that we Annie aficionados know that it's one of the least-featured orphans, but it pays off because Kate is also the orphan who understudies Annie. Then Molly told she didn't understudy Annie. Ouch. I had no way to spin that. Essentially, she was the least featured orphan with zero pay-off. Of course, she got her pay-off a few years later when she starred in the first of her many John Hughes films: "Sixteen Candles." Here's one of my favorite scenes

Apparently, the story goes that writer/director John Hughes didn't know her, but had a copy of her 8x10 photo. He hung the picture up for inspiration and wrote the movie in one weekend. Then, when he had auditions, he asked the casting people to bring in the girl who was his muse, and Molly got the part! As opposed to dancer Mitzi Hamilton whose story was immortalized in A Chorus Line in the Val monologue and song ("Dance: Ten, Looks: Three") but when the role was finally cast for Broadway, it went to Pam Blair. Here is Pam in the original production!

This week I'm also going to 54 Below to see Laura Benanti. And I have the copy-edited version of the upcoming sequel to "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan" to read through. I thought I would do it all in New Orleans but I got distracted by the almond croissants. So good! Before you read the sequel, buy the original book. And you can get it autographed here. And while you're at SethTV, watch the new Broadway Game Night episode with me, Tim Cross, David Turner, Kate Shindle, Anika Larsen and James. So fun! All the clues have to feature the letter B so it's a lot me making sure everyone knows I'm on an episode of "Bunheads." Some people found it funny, others who shall remain nameless tried to initiate divorce proceedings. Watch the trailer here. And peace out!

(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.)