ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Blast From the Past With Volleygirls and Surviving Broken Arms With Susan Blackwell

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29 Jul 2013

Seth and Nancy
Seth and Nancy

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


One more week 'til the Playbill Cruise! Yes, the ship has lots of Broadway performances and we're going to tons of fascinating cities, but basically I'm mostly looking forward to sitting on my cabin balcony, reading and eating non-stop!

Last week my sister Nancy and her family visited from Virginia and we saw Pippin. I was going to write that it was my third time seeing it but just realized it was my fourth, if you count the original production. Yes, when I was little boy in 1974, my family decided not to take a vacation in December. Instead, we took a staycation (anybody?) and saw three Broadway shows! Grease (foreshadowing my four-year stint playing piano for it on Broadway 20 years later), Pajama Game (with Hal Linden!) and Pippin. I checked my old Playbill (yes, I keep them all) and, in keeping with my mother's tradition of seeing Broadway shows after original cast members have left, I wound up seeing the replacement Catherine (originally played by Jill Claybourgh). But the exciting news is, the replacement was Betty Buckley...foreshadowing my lifelong obsession with her! Here's one of many Betty deconstructions

Back to the Playbill cruise. I leave this Friday and when I travel I'm always a nervous wreck, worrying I'm going to forget my CD/DVD/sheet music, so I make sure to keep it in my carry-on. Audra McDonald is the same way but on her recent trip from Bermuda to Napa Valley to do a concert, they made her check her carry-on baggage. She got to San Francisco and when she went to the luggage carousel, her bag wasn't there. It not only had her music in it, it also had her gowns! They told her that TSA had to look through her luggage during the stopover in Atlanta and it would arrive later that night. The problem was, it was 8 PM San Fran time, which was midnight Bermuda time, so she was exhausted. And she had to drive two hours that night to get to her hotel! Delta airlines told her that they could drop it off the following day. Yay! They then told her drop-off time would be around 10 PM. Audra told them her concert was at 7 PM so that would be after she needed her music and gown. Silence.

Finally, she spoke to the people from the festival and they arranged to have someone who was flying in that night at 11 PM pick up her bag. Audra signed the paperwork allowing the person to get her stuff, but Delta told her they would also need to call her for permission. Audra told them she was giving permission right now and the person would have ID with them. Sorry, Delta people told her, they also needed verbal consent at the pickup time. OMG! So, Audra went to the hotel and forced herself to stay awake, waiting for the phone call. 11 PM, midnight, 1 AM. And, PS, don't forget, her body clock was four hours later! Finally, at 2 AM, she called someone from the festival and told them she had to get some sleep if she was going to sing the next day and she couldn't keep waiting up to find out if they had her bag. She then found out the person had already picked up her bag and Delta decided there was no need to call. Yay! She stayed up for 24 hours for nothing!

This saga isn't over. During her tech rehearsal the nexy day, Andy Einhorn, her pianist, began to have terrible stomach pains. Audra sprang to action; first by getting him prunes, then by telling him her mother's theory of getting on all fours and sticking your butt in the air to relieve gas. He did it, but the pain remained. By now, it was 'places.' She and Andy decided on a system where she would check with him after every number to see if he could continue playing. He suffered through the concert but by the end, they immediately got him an ambulance to the hospital. Well, the reason the prunes and the butt lift didn't help is because he had a kidney stone! Ow. Later that night, he finally passed it.


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