ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Casting Changes at Disaster! and Audra McDonald's The Sound of Music Stories

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09 Dec 2013

The leaning bus
The leaning bus

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


Well, the fun part of this weekend was going to the Poconos with James and doing a show with Audra McDonald. The not fun part is that I'm writing this to you from the side of the road. Why? Because the Martz bus that James and I were taking broke down. We were then told another bus was coming to get us quickly. Around 30 minutes later, one finally came for us. Yay! We all got out... and then discovered that the new bus only had 15 available seats. The 15 lucky passengers got on and the other clunkers like myself went back to our old bus. Finally, another bus came to get us, and we noticed that it was leaning terrifyingly to the right side. Nonetheless, we got on and hoped for the best. Before we left, we were told that an airbag went off... and we'd have to wait for another bus.

James and I decided to wait on the old bus because we didn't want be on a bus that looked like it was about to tip into a ditch. Anyhoo, another bus just pulled up so I can finish this on the ride home. Let me start with last week's highlights...

First of all, Disaster! is getting a new cast member! The truly fun-nee Michele Ragusa got cast in a new Off-Broadway play so she's taken a leave for a few months. She's being replaced by the hilarious Mary Birdsong! Mary and I met back in the '80's when I was the music director at Surflight Summer Theater and she was a singing waitress next door at Showplace, the ice cream shop. I always thought she had a great voice and was super funny, and we've stayed friends throughout the years. I was thrilled when she became a regular on "Reno 911," excited when she got cast in Martin Short's Broadway show (where she did an amazing young Judy Garland and old Joan Rivers). Watch! And I was mind-bogglingly impressed when she threw away her comedy chops and hauled out the heavy drama for a big fat scene with George Clooney in "The Descendants" when she told him his wife was cheating on him. Watch

Mary's sketch

Let me continue my being impressed with her because I just saw Mary tweet a sketch of herself in Disaster! that I thought a fan had drawn for her, but, turns out, she drew it herself! How dare she be so talented! She told me that drawing a selfie is better because you can draw yourself thinner. True 'dat. We've had a great time rehearsing together, and it's so fun for me because we play opposite each other! She's also very much like me; we were talking about our lack of cooking at home, and she said that she had to use a pan recently in her apartment, she had to dust it. Not rinse it off, she literally had to remove the dust that had settled on it. Brava Empire Schezuan!

A few days before Thursday, I got an email from Tina Fey which sent me into a fan frenzy. I've met her a few times (she asked me to coach her for her "Into the Woods" film audition) and she came to Unbroken Circle and Disaster! opening night, but I mainly know her from sitting at home with James and obsessively watching "30 Rock." Anyhoo, when I read the email, I freaked out because she invited us all over to watch The Sound Of Music Live! Me, James and Juli went over right after my "Chatterbox," and I was immediately thrilled because Tina said she would make brownies if I wanted. YES was my answer, and I spent the first hour of viewing obsessesing about when they'd be ready. PS, they were delish.


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