ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A First Look at Disaster! and Jane Krakowski's Showbiz Stories

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14 Oct 2013

A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.


As "Waiting for Guffman" coined, "It's the day of the show, y'all." Oct. 14 is the first preview of the Off-Broadway production of Disaster!. Get thee to DisasterMusical.com for deets!

James was telling me what a difference tonight will make, because almost the entire cast has never done the show before! That means they've never heard an audience react to anything in the show. We're not having an invited dress rehearsal this afternoon, so tonight will be the first time they'll find out how an audience reacts to their jokes, to their songs, their dramatic moments...literally everything! So thrilling!

We actually have a big audience coming, so it's going to be truly exciting to go from no reaction to reactions from a theatre full of people. It would be "hilarious" if the reactions we've been getting from an empty theatre is the same we get tonight: Silence. We shall see! We did a big press event a few days ago where we performed three songs.

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The cast of Disaster!
Photo by Monica Simoes

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We've had rehearsals every day and Jack and I have been making our celebrity Disaster! videos. We started out with the Andrea Martin and Jane Krakowski ones, and on Saturday, we went backstage at Cinderella and filmed a video with Santino Fontana, Ann Harada and Laura Osnes. They're all here. Hi-lar!

On Thursday, I had Bobby Steggert on the "Chatterbox," and he's a such a sweet, smart guy. He happened to mention that he was the valedictorian of his high school and I asked how he did it. He told me, in a commiserating way, that because he was gay teen, he felt he had to overachieve. I told him that I, too, was a gay teen but I got a 50 in Algebra. Now what? Silence. By the way, when I say I got a 50, I'm not doing my mother's style of exaggerating numbers. I literally got a 50. Yes, 5-0. And I got it for two quarters. Hence, when I went to Oberlin, my major was piano.

Bobby is starring in Big Fish but also doing readings when he has free time. He's working on a new version of Company at the Roundabout, where the lead character of Bobby is a gay guy and all the couples are gender reversed! He's playing the role created by Donna McKechnie (Kathy) and Michael Urie is playing one of the other "girlfriends" (now boyfriends). And he heard the Elaine Stritch part is going to be played by Nathan Lane! Amazing!

The week started with me in New Orleans, doing a show with the fabulous Jane Krakowski as part of the Broadway @ NOCCA series. Jane has had such a long career and when we talked about the Nine production she did in 2003, she told me that she was almost part of the original production back in the 80's! Turns out, Tommy Tune's original concept was for the lady of the spa to be a young girl on the verge of womanhood (to be consistent with the eternal youth theme of the spa). When Jane was 12, she came in and worked with him on the set (featuring all of those boxes), but he wound up casting an adult woman in the part. Five years later, Jane got another call from Tommy. He told Jane that an actress who was cast in his recent workshop became pregnant and had to miss a few months. He needed to replace her because he wanted whomever was cast to do the entire workshop and then take it to Broadway. Jane came in and worked with him again. After a few hours, he opened a bottle of champagne and said, "Congratulations! You're our new Flaemmchen!" I loved the story, but then I pointed out that he was offering her champagne and she was only 17. Not since Leisl in The Sound of Music.


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