ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Cruising With Anika Larsen, Plus Don't Tell Mama

By Seth Rudetsky
16 Jul 2013

Seth and Juli on Hair Night
Back to this week's cruise: One day Anika Larsen was talking about her stint doing Rent and we remembered that in those days you pretty much couldn't audition if you had any theatrical experience. People would have to erase their theatre credits to be taken seriously for that show. I guess they wanted "real" people and rockers, not trained performers. The problem was, those people with no theatrical experience also had no technique. Anika said that during one of the tours the sound person was having a breakdown because he thought there were audio problems, so he listened to people's individual body mics to figure out which ones were malfunctioning. Turns out, of the 15 people who sing "Seasons of Love," eight weren't singing at all!

We also had a night dedicated to Hair and I spent some time chatting with Will Swenson about playing Berger. At various times during the show, the cast would go into the audience and schmooze/hug/dance with people. I asked what that was like, and he said it was a mixed bag. He'd approach some people and they'd be really into it, but he recalled another time when one person said, "Don't come near me! I will sue you!" I get it. When I'm in the audience, I love to actually be in an audience and not be a part of a show. I'm not saying I threatened to sue Will when I saw Hair, but suffice it to say that my sister is a lawyer and I made sure I had her on speed dial. Look at the photos of Juli, my mom and me during Hair night. Who looks more like a drag queen?

Seth's mom on Hair Night

This week I have the fantastic Rachel Bay Jones from Pippin at the Chatterbox, so come by Don't Tell Mama on Thursday at 5 PM. If you miss it, get thee to SethTV.com! We just added tons of old Chatterboxes (Kristin Chenoweth, Cheyenne Jackson, Jane Krakowski) and there are more to come! And here's a video of CBS's "OMG Insider!" piece on Unbroken Circle. They interview James, Eve Plumb and me and they show clips from the show. I love hearing the audience laughing (it was the very first preview)! 

(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.)