ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Catching Up With Christine Ebersole and Backstage Stories With Rachel Bay Jones

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20 Aug 2013

Another "Chatterbox" on SethTV features Rory O'Malley and Julie Halston. Julie regaled us with tales about Money Talks, a play she did years ago that ran a solid five performances. Once in a while, someone will approach her and say proudly, "I saw all five performances of Money Talks!" Julie starred with Helen Gallager and Dolores Gray, the latter of which had a lot of issues with her lines. Dolores played a character named Phyllis and Julie played Claudia. Dolores, however, kept addressing her as Carla, another character in the show. She'd often say "Hello, Carla," Julie would glare and then Dolores would say, "I mean, Claudia." On the first preview, Dolores took it a step further because Julie was wearing new earrings as part of her costume; Dolores said, "Hello, Carla," followed it her signature "I mean, Claudia," and then walked closer and added, "Julie! I love your earrings."

Julie also told us that the phone featured heavily in the show, but Dolores often didn't know where it was. One night it rang and rang while Dolores looked onstage for it. By the tenth ring, Helen Gallagher came onstage and yelled, "Pick up the phone!" Dolores then picked it up and said, "Why hello, Phyllis," which prompted to Helen to re-enter and yell, "You're Phyllis!!!!"

I saw Varla Jean Merman's show at the Art House in Provincetown, which was hysterical as usual. Christine Ebersole and her husband were next to me and were laughing the entire time. The whole show was about fairy tales and at one point, Varla told us that she was considering re-writing classic children's books. She showed slides of different hilarious titles and my fave was a picture of Varla laughing right next to a picture of her blank-faced/shut down. Instead of "Polar Express," it was called "Bi-polar Express." Here's a classic video Varla and I did a few years ago based on Lionel Ritchie's Hello. I play the blind student! 

Last Thursday, I had the amazing Ann Hampton Callaway and her sister Liz on "Chatterbox," where they sang up a storm. Make sure you see their fantastic show Sibling Revelry at 54 Below starting next week! Ann came to Unbroken Cirlce that night and I was obsessed with her laugh. If an oboe can guffaw, I heard it. After the show, we took photos on the set and Ann suggested we pose as a dysfunctional family, a la the theme of the show. We all hit a pose, except her! That's right, the person who thought of the idea got distracted one second later and started chatting with Eve Plumb.

This week I have Peter Joback (Phantom of the Opera) at the Chatterbox and then I head to Ptown to do shows with Megan Hilty, Megan Mullally Patti LuPone. Get tickets at PtownArtHouse.com. Happy almost end of summer and 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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