ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: There's No Place Like London and Unbroken Circle Opens Off-Broadway

By Seth Rudetsky
June 17, 2013

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

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First the drama; since James is busy with Unbroken Circle, I invited one of my best friends, Jack Plotnick, to stay with me in London. When we first got our tickets, I had an aisle seat and Jack had a horrible middle seat. And it was fifteen rows behind me. When we checked in the night before, we tried to change Jack's seat to one next to mine but when we looked at the seating chart, his seat didn't appear at all. I assumed it was letting me check in because I'm a frequent flyer. At the airport, they still wouldn't let Jack move his seat. He was told to do it at the gate.

When he got to the gate he found out that that the reason he didn't have a seat to change the night before is because he didn't have a seat at all! The flight was overbooked and his seat was given away! Even though he bought a ticket and picked a seat, he was somehow ix-nayed and was now on a waitlist. At number six! He didn't have a complete breakdown like I would have. Instead, he just kept saying, dead-faced, "I'm going to have to wait in this airport for twelve hours for another flight."

They offered people round-trip tickets if they gave up their seats, and suddenly Jack wound up getting a window seat in a delicious exit row. But he hates window seats so he approached the woman next to me and asked if she'd like to trade her middle seat for a window seat. She looked at him strangely, but she promptly took the ticket and ran. And now Jack and I are sitting next to each other! 

Last week, I interviewed Rob Delaney on "Seth Speaks" and loved it! He was voted "Funniest Person on Twitter" and I (and Audra McDonald) follow his tweets obsessively. Here's one of my fave tweets from him: "If your response to calls for gun control is 'Should we get rid of cars too?' the answer is, for you, yes. You should not have a gun or car."

And I love his hilarious twist endings: "My niece just said, 'Birds live in a birdhouse & we live in a people house!' Cute, huh? Wrong; my niece is 26 & on trial for manslaughter." Turns out, he began as a musical theatre performer, and that's what led to him going into stand-up comedy. He was playing Lancelot in a non-equity tour of Camelot and the tour bus broke down. By the time the cast made it to the venue, they were a half-hour late to curtain. Since the audience had already entered the theatre, they had to do their sound check in front of the 2,000 people. Rob said that Guinevere and King Arthur did some of their dialogue to test the mics but he didn't want to do his lines from the show in front of the audience until he was playing the role. So he sound-checked by telling a story about his day. The audience laughed up a storm and he said it was his first time making an audience laugh with his own words. That made him start considering being a stand-up comedian.

However, Delaney continued on his musical theatre path, and that path also included an incredible abuse of alcohol. One night, he wound up crashing his car into a wall while he was in a blackout. He broke many parts of his body and he wound up in jail. He immediately stopped drinking because it became clear to him that it he easily could have killed people because of it, and he also decided that he would think of his second chance at life as an opportunity to do what he'd been secretly wanting to do. That's when he became a comedian.

On a side note, one of his other musical theatre gigs was playing a bad guy in a regional production of The Sound of Music. When he first started becoming a successful comedian, people would Google him and the first image that would come up was a shot of him in the show. However, it wasn't neccesarily clear he was in The Sound of Music. Essentially, he said, people would Google "Rob Delaney" and immediately see a picture of him in a full Nazi outfit.

This week is the official opening of Unbroken Circle, the play James wrote that I'm co-producing! However, I'm going to be in Jolly Olde London Town, so we made last Wednesday night's show the official "Transfer Celebration" to commemorate the show moving Off-Broadway. I went with Jack and in front of us were Kerry Butler, Brian d'Arcy James, Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis. Norm kept asking me during intermission, "Wait…James wrote this?" He explained that he only knew James as my husband and didn't know he had this talent. The show went great, and Eve Plumb got crazy laughs after every line. And all the dramatic reveals got the full audience gasps I now come to expect.

After the show, I spoke to Audra and when she mentioned a scene in Act Two between Lori Hammel, James and Juli, she started crying. I, of course, comforted her. And by "comforted her," I mean immediately texted James backstage: "OMG! Audra is crying talking about your show!" We had a party at a great nearby restaurant called "Southern Hospitality," and the food was delish! Especially the corn bread. Obsessed. Unbroken Circle is playing Wednesdays at the theatre at St. Luke's but in July the scheduling is expanding. Get thee to UnbrokenCirclethePlay.com for tickets and great videos/photos!

Jack and I went out to lunch with my good friend Paul Castree who's back in town after playing Mr. Snow with a Virginia opera company. We were telling Jack about our Australian trip with Megan Mullally. Paul came as my friend but wound up performing in the show singing back-up and doing a scene with Megan. We told Jack about one woman (let's call her Marjorie) who worked with us at the theatre in Sydney. She was very nice, but always wore a ton of makeup. Not neccesarily eye makeup and lipstick, more like a combination of foundation, base and clown white. Right before the first performance, Paul got into his suit and Marjorie stopped by the dressing room. She gave him a big hug and pressed her face into him. She walked away and Paul noticed he had the Shroud of Turin on his shoulder. She then turned back, looked at his suit and informed him, "Oh no! Someone make-up'd you!" That's right. She made the noun "make-up" into a verb and totally disassociated from her actions. It was then fun to watch Paul try to avoid her. I witnessed her show up again before a show, yelling, "Good luck." As soon as she entered the dressing room, Paul had a plan to avoid her hug; he sprang to action by excusing himself and opening the bathroom door. But right before he was able to enter the make-up-less sanctuary, she yelled "Wait!" and bolted over to gave him a big, fat hug. And a shoulder of foundation.

Patti LuPone, Scott Wittman, Marc Shaiman and Seth Rudetsky

Now I'm in London! I'm sitting outside (where it's chilly!) and writing this from Covent Garden. It's so British! I'm surrounded by Shake Shake, Lush, L'Occitane, Le Pain Quotidien...AKA everything that's one to two blocks away from me on the Upper West Side. Nonetheless, I love it! I will write all about my British experiences in next week's column, but suffice it to say the show I'm doing with Patti LuPone opened last night and we're a hit! The producer, Mark Cortale (who's also my manager) sent me a text that all the reviews were amazing! The Telegraph gave us 5 stars and called the evening "miraculous." We still got it! All righty, since we don't have a show tonight, I'm going to see Jenna Russell in Merrily We Roll Along, and on Wednesday I'm meeting Book of Mormon stars Jared Gertner and Gavin Creel for dinner. And then James arrives on Thursday!

So I close by saying pip pip, cheerio and, if you're in the states, go see Unbroken Circle!

(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.)