By Seth Rudetsky
26 May 2009
This is the sixth summer I've done it, and every year I've tried to get Cheyenne Jackson to come, but he's always had something else going on. Finally, I got him booked, and he's singing in the opening and closing shows (and perhaps have a shipboard romance with me). Also, when Gregg Kamisky and Kelli O'Donnell (who run the cruise) saw [title of show] at Gypsy of the Year, they were so blown away by their presentation that they booked the cast for the cruise right after the show. The amazing thing is, [title of show] is creating a new 45-minute show to premiere on the boat! I'm so excited. It's like when the British version of "The Office" ended and then, a year later, there was another episode. The cruise website has posted lots of great videos of past cruises and performances that you have to watch. There's Andrea McArdle singing an impromptu "On My Own" from Les Miz, and you must take a gander at the one with Capathia Jenkins. It's from the last cruise and she's singing "(Let a Big Black Lady) Stop the Show" from Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me. The white back-up singers have a lyric asking if they can clap along, and Capathia busts them by singing that they can, but not on the nerdy first and third beat. Cut to: When the song starts getting sassy in the video, the cruise audience starts clapping along…on the first and third beat. It's very art imitates life slash which came first the chicken or the egg slash she's my mother, she's my sister. Watch it at www.rfamilyvacations.com.
I took my mom to see Hair, and we loved it. It was very role reversal because that's the first show my parents took me to see! On the way to the show, I texted Gavin Creel, and said I was coming with my mom, but I couldn't remember what theatre it was at. Gavin wrote that he was nervous because he didn't know if he was in full voice and then he tried to trick me by saying the show was at the Longacre Theatre! Finally, he admitted it was at the Al Hirschfeld, and I wrote I was looking forward to seeing him completely nude. He wrote back that he assumed the last message was from my mother. Brava! Anyhoo, I loved the show, and I'm so happy that brilliant score is getting a new life on Broadway. As for Gavin, as soon as he started singing, I got tears in my eyes. He sounds amazing! I was devastated months ago because he turned down major auditions for Broadway leads because he was contracted to play the lead in Godspell. Then Godspell got ixnayed, and I kept obsessing about all the great roles he didn't go in for. But I'm so happy that it worked out the way it did because he's so great as Claude, and he got a delicious Tony nomination. If you don't know his phenomenal voice, watch my deconstruction at http://sethrudetsky.com/blog/2008/09/.
On my Wednesday Sirius/XM Live On Broadway show, I had three leads from Rock of Ages and the cast of Off-Broadway's For Lovers Only. I'd love to re-cap the show, but I'd mainly like to focus on the fact that one of the For Lovers Only cast, Glenn Seven Allen, to be specific, got to the show by riding his scooter. No, not a motorized scooter, a "put one foot on it while the other frantically pushes against the sidewalk" scooter. I busted him for having the same mode of transportation as Juli, who's 8. I asked him if it was the same brand as hers ("Hannah Montana"), and he claimed that his is the adult version called a "Razor" and it goes incredibly fast. I said that I've seen scooters in action and it probably goes the speed of the warm-down I do after my jog, and he challenged me to a race. I suddenly realized that we were in the middle of an interview show and promptly asked him and the cast to sing the opening medley from their show. I listened intently while internally debating which was more annoying: a scooter, a Segway or a Jazzy. So far, I've come to no conclusion.
Then I interviewed Mitchell Jarvis, Wesley Taylor and Lauren Molina from Rock of Ages. Lauren played Johanna in the last revival of Sweeney Todd (directed by John Doyle), where the actors were also the band (she played cello). She said that when she first saw the model of the set, she asked where the music stands were. Turns out, the actors had to memorize all of the instrumental parts! All I can say is, I played Grease on Broadway for years and one time my music fell while I was playing, and I completely had no idea what was coming. The actors were forced to memorize their music in a terrifying kamikaze-style. First, they would play through a song and do the staging. Then, they'd run-through the song again, but this time John Doyle would walk around and arbitrarily take people's music off their stands! Ahh! Too soon! How can you have everything memorized that quickly? Do you focus on singing it correctly? Playing the right notes? It's like a scary version of musical chairs/duck, duck, goose/"Sophie's Choice."
The Rock of Ages cast has been doing a web series about their backstage life on Broadway, and you can watch the episodes at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI60Nvv2yMQContinued...