ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Success Stories from Megan Mullally and Audition Horror Stories from Norbert Leo Butz

By Seth Rudetsky
20 Jan 2014

Megan Mullally
Megan Mullally

A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

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It's cold here in NYC, so I was excited to take a trip to Florida last week. What was "fun" was not having to change any aspect of my clothing; it's cold in Florida, too! Why the H does someone go to Florida in January if not for the warm weather? Doesn't the tourism board understand that?

Regardless, I wasn't just there for freezer burn; I was also there for the first of the Broadway @ series at the Fort Lauderdale Parker Playhouse. The show was Megan Mullally and me, and if you missed it (or saw it and want more), you can see an entire Megan Mullally/Seth Rudetsky concert here



This was super fun, because Megan had just come from the Golden Globes. Her husband, Nick Offerman, plays Ron Swanson on "Parks and Recreation" and the show was up for Best Comedy. Because there are so many people on the show, there was no room for Megan at the table, so they told her she'd be at the next table... next to Helen Mirren and Mike Tyson. You write the joke.

Megan and I were talking about her alma mater, Northwestern. She tried out for the big musical her freshman year even though everyone said that freshmen never get cast. Turns out, it was A Little Night Music and she got the role of Petra! Her big triumph, however, happened a few years later, when she starred in West Side Story. No, not in an appropriate role (a very white lady from the South); she starred as the fiery Latina, Anita! Megan began as a ballet dancer so she was able to do all the dancing (and the belting), and she slathered on dark body make-up to help what Mother Nature didn't give her.

A few months later, she was in the one record store in town, looking for a cast album. She overheard a man talking to the owner of the store. He mentioned that he was doing a new play in Chicago but they were having problems finding someone who was right for the teen runaway. Then he said he had heard someone at the school was perfect for the role... the girl who recently played Anita. Megan said she stood up from behind the albums and said, "Um... that's me." I then asked if the man said, "No, you're not. I heard she's black." Apparently, he didn't because Megan got the role and her Equity Card!

I was talking about Megan backstage at Disaster! with my good friend Paul Castree, who plays Tony DelVecchio. All three of us did Grease! together and then he and Megan did Young Frankenstein. He told me that they would talk about "tracks," which is a word show folk started using in the '80's. It's because when people are replaced in shows, their replacements are taught what to do as if they're following someone on a track; you go onstage, sing the opening number, leave stage right, do a quick change, enter stage right for a crossover, go downstairs to the wig room, etc... Normally the word "track" is applied to ensemble people and there are some tracks that are better than others in terms of having solos or more time to change costumes. Anyhoo, all this explaining is just to set up the fact that Megan would go up to Roger Bart, who played the leading role of Dr. Frankenstein and say, "Wow! You have a really good track."

 Continued...