By Seth Rudetsky
19 Jul 2007
My boyfriend and I went to Trader Joe's and stocked up on "healthy food" now that we're back on dry land, and I've spent the last few days trying to explain to my stomach that smorgasbords are for special occasions and do not normally occur six times a day. By the way, I got an email from my friend Amy Corn saying, "I read your last column. Did you really eat that much for dessert?" Short answer: "yes"; long answer: "…and it was delicious."
Anyhoo, we're now on (last) Monday, the third day of the cruise. We docked in Cape Canaveral, and many people went off to Disneyworld. I made that mistake on the first cruise and opted out this time. It's a long, hot bus ride and then a long, hot day. The one good thing about my last trip there was we got into the Wild Animal Park and I saw the Lion King show. Let me clarify: The part where the audience had to imitate an animal was decidedly not fun ("What sound does an elephant make?" Me: Silent protest), but it was cool when I had Titus Burgess (who's coming to Broadway to sing "Under the Sea" in The Little Mermaid) at my Chatterbox and found out he was in that show! You never know what future Broadway sasstress is in an ensemble (check out Sutton Foster's chorus solo in Scarlet Pimpernel: "Me sister says his breath is fresher than an Irish Rose." Cut to: Tony Award.)
Tuesday we docked in a Dutch oven, I mean, Key West. With the ozone layer almost gone, a two-block walk gave new meaning to the expression "sun kissed." I could feel my collagen evaporating and deciding ne'er to renew itself.
That night, four of my friends (Richard Roland, Michael Klimzak, Tim Cross and JD Daw) did some songs from Forever Plaid. That show is literally perfect. The James Raitt harmonies are so beautiful and creative, and Stuart Ross wrote such clear cut characters that within a few lines you know exactly who everyone is. And, even though we just did a small version of it, everyone kept commenting on how much heart there was in the show. The only problem was that all of us hadn't done it for years. And, I mean, years. So, not only did everyone have to re-learn the harmonies, but the four Plaids who are supposed to be clean-cut young guys cut down in their prime were well into their sixties. I'm exaggerating, but let's just say I'm glad it was a large venue.
Then we did our Mortification Theatre sketch, where we dramatically re-enact two devastating parental moments from our childhoods. I play myself at 11 and Jack plays 15. He has my favorite section where he's describing having to investigate whether or not his father has been drinking. "This is so mortifying, I wish I weren't here right now. Thank goodness I've mastered the technique of disassociating myself! That's right, I'm no longer here… I'm in my head, where it's safe. This technique comes in handy now, and it's even more fun later in life when I can no longer control it."
Wednesday we docked on a private Island that the Norwegian Cruise Line owns. James, his friend Cheryl and I went snorkeling, and I was having fun till they both pointed out a barracuda. I didn't know if you're supposed to remain immobile so they'll leave you alone or if you're supposed to get the hell out of the area. I opted for the "get the hell out" route, but I was wearing a mask, a life vest and flippers, so I moved as fast as a glacier. Luckily, the barracuda ignored my attention-getting splashing and I relaxed until James spotted a Stingray. That was it for me, and I hightailed it to the beach and a virgin Pina Colada.
That evening, Euan Morton did a fabulous concert. He has 1,000 megawatts of stage presence and a glorious voice. I always think he sounds like the male Karen Carpenter. He sang the haunting "Stranger in this World" and the beautiful "Hallelujah." He also ripped his shirt off at the end of the show, which made it clear to me that he and I were eating in different places on the boat . . . with different sized portions. Rosie has an organization called Rosie's Broadway Kids that teaches inner city kids musical theatre lessons, and Euan offered to sing any kid on the boat to sleep if the parent would make a $50 donation to the charity! How cool was that?
Thursday featured Sibling Revelry, which consists of sisters Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway and their sassy music director, Alex Rybeck (who also celebrated his birthday on the ship)! Ann and Liz sound great together and are both so funny. At one point Ann was doing patter but was brazenly overshadowed by Liz walking up and down the aisle hawking her CDs. Then Ann "accidentally" discovered her 15 MAC Awards onstage. Liz countered that by sauntering to the stage to reminisce about her Tony Award. "Nomination," Ann quickly added. Brava bitchery!
Finally, Friday arrived. I'm talking Annie. Even though Steve Marzullo was the music director, he let me conduct the opening trumpet solo in the Overture. Then I came forward and told my story about my obsession as a child with, what I called, "The Red Album." I told how I never got over not seeing Andrea McArdle play Annie when it was originally on Broadway (I saw Shelly Bruce). In the middle of the show, I noticed that there were two newsboys in the "NYC" number, and I was suddenly thrilled because there were boys in Annie. I could be in the show I was obsessed with! Then I spoke of realizing that the newsboys were actually girl orphans dressed up as boys, and I then described my devastation by the 11-year-old "drag kings." I said that most everyone I knew who was my age had dreamed of being an orphan in Annie and wished they had seen Andrea play the title role. "Tonight," I said triumphantly, "through the magic of RFamily Vacations, those dreams will come true."
I set the opening scene (an orphanage in December), and all the girl orphans ran out because Molly (Sarah Uriarte Berry) had a bad dream about missing her parents. I ran offstage, donned an orphan smock, and ran on shouting "Oh, my goodness, oh, my goodness…" Yes! I was Tessie, the "oh, my goodness" orphan! Continued...