ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Casting a Disaster and Joking With Varla Jean Merman

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01 Oct 2013

Varla Jean Merman
Photo by Rex Bonomelli

Speaking of comedy, I played for the hilarious Varla Jean Merman at 54 Below. She did a section from her show The Book of Merman, where she talks about writing a book and what a bad idea that is. "Who reads books anymore? Nobody! Oh, everyone pretends they do, of course, but they don't. It's like flossing." She then asked the audience, "What kind of book should a female celebrity write who's never written a book? And who's probably never read one. Answer: A children's book!"

It reminded me of Jackie Hoffman who does a great bit about children's books by celebrities. She says this is the entire book: "Can you make a funny face? This was and that way? That way and this way? Both ways and sideways? By Jamie Lee Curtis." Varla did a section of her fairy tale show where she rages about how messed up fairy tale characters are. Cinderella is a "liar", according to Varla. "She had to pretend she was a rich lady to get into the ball." Then she claims she could actually be like Cinderella. "I can do that!! I can easily pretend I'm someone else. Just ask anyone at the Chase bank on 50th Street." Then she busts co-dependent Belle from Beauty And the Beast. "Before Belle fell in love with the Beast, do you know what their first date was?" she asks. "He imprisoned her!" Finally Varla takes on Ariel from The Little Mermaid for trying to change who she really was. "The prince didn't want to marry her because she smelled like a fish. And why did she smell like a fish?" Pause. "Because she was a fish!"

So, as Disaster! began its first rehearsal, Unbroken Circle announced its run is concluding at the end of this month. I went to go see the show last week with Andrea Martin and we were both blown away by new cast member Marianne Tatum. Andrea told me that she could "never, never" learn an entire role in a week. Well, Marianne did and she was great! Unbroken Circle began performances Off-Broadway back in May and is going to close Oct. 27. We also just found out that the first regional production is going to be in San Antonio, which is perfect because the show takes place in Texas! You can get tickets, info and watch videos at UnbrokenCircleThePlay.com. And with that, 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.)

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