ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Prom Story Worthy of the Stage, Plus Patti LuPone, Caroline Rhea, Lilla Crawford

By Seth Rudetsky
14 Jan 2013

Patti LuPone
photo by Ethan Hill
The Patti LuPone show in New Orleans was so much fun and, turns out, Patti is just as much of a TV addict as I am. On Sunday night, she was invited to a New Orleans "Mask Party" that began at 6:30. Patti was very excited to go…as long as she could be home by 8 PM to watch "Downton Abbey." She decided to go to the party at 9 PM, right after "Downton." Then, at 8 PM, PBS ran a special on the real Downton Abbey estate and she realized the actual show wouldn't begin 'til 9. Then Laura Linney welcomed everyone to a special two hour edition of "Downton Abbey"! Cut to: Patti got to the mask party, not at 6:30, but at 11:30! On a side note, her voice is so unwavering. We did two shows in a row and Patti wound up singing around 20 songs! At the end of the second show, the audience was screaming for an encore. She didn't know what to do so I suggested we let the audience request one. Someone shouted out "Invisible" from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and someone else yelled Gypsy. Of course, ol' Lungs of Steel said she'd sing both and she did "Invisible" directly followed by "Everything's Coming Up Roses." Don't forget, if you want to hear her sing tons of amazing Broadway songs (in the original keys!) you can see her entire Provincetown concert (104 minutes!) at SethTV.com/patti. Brava!

On Wednesday, I had the hi-larious Caroline Rhea on "Seth Speaks," my SiriusXM talk show. Caroline has a four-year-old daughter named Ava and her so-called Baby Daddy's last name is Economopolous. Caroline claims she tells Ava that her full name is Caroline Rhea Economopolous and the Economopolous is silent. Caroline began as a stand-up, and I asked what her signature was. She told me that because she really was "always a bridesmaid," she would literally walk on stage wearing one of her bridesmaid dresses. She'd tell the audience "Well, my best friend told me I'd wear the dress again, so I am." When she had her own talk show and was planning on getting married, she had her bridesmaids come on the show and they each had to wear the dress they forced Caroline to wear at their wedding. None of her bridesmaids matched, but the revenge was delicious.

Speaking of her talk show, she remembered that her mother was always in a state of shock that it was on every day. Her mom would call and say, "It was on again today!" I asked her about "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," her long-running TV show, and she told me that she was asked to audition right after a terrible break-up. She wasn't that interested in playing Aunt Hilda, but when she found out the character was jilted by a man and kept him imprisoned in her house, she was like "I'm in!" She did the audition but when they asked her to go "to network" (the final audition) she passed! She just "wasn't feeling it." Caroline said the TV network then called her and said she didn't even have to come in again. If she wanted it, they would just give her the part. She advised the audience if they want a network and/or a man to be super-interested, simply reject them. P.S., Caroline also hates the iPhone like I do because of the horrific lack of a keyboard. For every correct letter I hit, I wind up hitting three by accident that I have to erase. Caroline claims she now needs to get lipo on her fingers.