ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Catching Up With Sutton Foster and Vocal Classes With Tina Fey

By Seth Rudetsky
08 Jul 2013

Seth with Tina Fey and husband Jeff Richmond

We worked for a while but kept segueing off-topic, discussing all the Broadway people who came on her show and, it turns out, Tina didn't know that Tituss Burgess sang! I had to show her this Obsessed video immediately. I also brought up the numerous times I auditioned for the show and she mentioned the one episode I was cast on. I told her I wasn't cast on that episode but had thought I gave a great audition. She looked confused and confessed that sometimes, she'd show up on set thinking someone was cast and a totally different actor was there. So I guess I can take solace in knowing that she thought she had cast me. It's the thought that counts?

The whole session ended with her e-mailing me later on that afternoon and telling me that she subscribed to SethTV.com. Yay! A celebrity subscriber! A week later, she auditioned for the part but Emily Blunt wound up getting the part. But I got a little inside scoop and heard that the creative team thought she was fabulous. I told ya! When I interviewed her and her husband, Tina said that she's never gotten a part she's auditioned for. All of her acting work has been because someone she knows got her the part or because she actually wrote it. She recalled being in Chicago with her friend Rachel Dratch in the '90's and they would drive an hour and half to audition for a one line part, not get it, and then drive an hour and half back.

We talked about out mutual love of Patti LuPone and Tina remembered the one episode where Patti is supposed to enter with a live chicken she's going to kill for dinner. Tina loved that moment on paper, but when it came to filming she realized that Patti would have to act the rest of the scene holding a live chicken. They went to film it and Patti immediately told Tina is would be no problem because she knew how to handle it because she had a chicken farm. Within five seconds she had the chicken upside down and was able to do the whole scene with no problem. Tina was mind-boggled by how capable Patti is with poultry and was touting Patti's skills to the person who books the animal. The animal booker wasn't that impressed because claimed he hired a chicken that was particularly easy to work with. Seriously! On a Broadway note, Tina and Jeff are working on a musical version of "Mean Girls"! Tina's writing the book, Jeff is writing the music and Nell Benjamin is doing the lyrics. Maybe I'll be in the audience opening night, even though Tina will think she's cast me.

Back to Patti LuPone; I was obsessed with her directness while in London. During our show together, I was talking about Madonna's version of "Rainbow High" in the film version of Evita and how it's a step down and instead of sustaining the thrilling modulation ("I'm their savior!!!!") Madonna holds the note for barely a second and then slides off of it. I was asking Patti why she thinks Madonna did it that way, expecting Patti to say it was a choice, or it's a particularly hard section to sing. Instead, Patti responded, quite directly with, "She can't sing!" Point taken.

All right, the next big show in Provincetown is the amazing Audra MacDonald July 21-22. Get tix at PtownArtHouse.com 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.)