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

By Seth Rudetsky
14 Jan 2013

Lilla Crawford sings at Chatterbox.
At Seth's Broadway Chatterbox, my Thursday talk show at Don't Tell Mama, my guest was Lilla Crawford who's starring in Annie. She is such a mature, well-spoken kid! Her first Broadway show was Billy Elliot, in which she played the daughter of the dance teacher. Sometimes that show would have technical problems with the set, and one time they had to stop it…for more than 90 minutes! One audience person was able to go to a restaurant, order lunch, eat lunch, come back to the theatre and the show still hadn't started back up!

I asked Lilla about her Annie audition and she remembered that after her last one, she didn't hear anything for a few weeks. One day, her mom picked her up at school early because her agent told her she had to film a PSA. On the way to her agents to film it, her mom kept getting different texts with conflicting information: Lilla got the PSA or she had to audition for the PSA but she had it anyway, etc. It was confusing and bizarre. Lilla brought two different outfits to wear but her agents said her school clothes were fine. They set up a camera to film her. Mom took Lilla's younger sister into the waiting room so they wouldn't disturb the filming. The agents thought her mom was coming back, so they waited 15 minutes. Finally, they went to get her and, even though her mom was saying Lilla's younger sister might make noise, they told her they wanted her in the room. Her manager started filming and asking Lilla random questions about dogs and suddenly her manager said, "How does it feel to be playing Annie on Broadway?" Lilla was about to respond that she wasn't playing Annie, she had only auditioned, but before she could speak, her agent yelled, "You got the part!!!"

Yes, the whole thing had been a set up to see Lilla's reaction. Apparently, every orphan was filmed being told that they were cast! I'm sort of obsessed at how not well-thought out it was: confusing information about whether or not she got the PSA, awkwardly waiting for her mom/younger sister to return, her mom being told it was fine if there was noise while they were filming, and then before Lilla could respond about how she felt, her agent blurting out the news. I guess that's why agents agent and Ken Burns makes documentaries.

Lilla finished the Chatterbox by singing her amazing rendition of "Disneyland" (that she did at the New Year's Eve Marvin Hamlisch salute at Lincoln Center). The entire interview/performance is available at SethTV.com. (At this week's Chatterbox, the Broadway vet with 1,000 stories, Phyllis Newman! Get info at SethsBroadwayChatterbox.com.)

This week's "Playbill Obsessed!" video stars the beautiful Rebecca Luker...and it just happens to coincide with the debut of her (and Howard McGillin's) show at the Carlyle!

And soon I'll be announcing a fun project I'm doing in New York during the month of March with some other Broadway folk. So make sure to keep every single date free, please. Peace out!

(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.)