ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Having Faith in Prince and Celebrating the Genius of Gene Kelly

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23 Jul 2012

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



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Faith Prince

I'm now officially in my summer travel mode. Every week I'm going to Provincetown for the Broadway Series at the Art House, and this Thursday and Friday (July 26-27) I'll be with Faith Prince! Everybody knows she won the Tony Award for Adelaide in the '90s Guys and Dolls revival. But many people don't know the iconic role she almost created. Back in the '80s she auditioned for the original Little Shop of Horrors and got a callback for the role of Audrey. Finally, she got the phone call telling her she got the part! But…she was contracted to do a Coke industrial that happened to conflict with the show. P.S., If you don't know, industrials are shows that corporations put on for their workers. Usually, they feature big musical numbers with lyrics changed to be about the product. Hunter Bell and I did one for Rite-Aid in Baltimore where we touted "RAPTAR," an acronym that all Rite-Aid workers are supposed to remember. It stands for Recognition, Appreciation, Praise and Respect. Our industrial offered parodies of famous TV shows; the finale was based on "Everybody Loves Raymond" and was called "Everybody Loves RAPTAR." It featured Hunter (in a black wig) as Ray Romano and me (in full old lady drag) as Doris Roberts. Anybody? Decidedly nobody.

Regardless, Faith told the folks running the industrial that she got a leading role in a new musical, and would like to please be released from her contract. They told her no. She remembers she actually got down on her knees and begged…and they still said N-O! So, the role went to Ellen Greene and the rest, as they say, is her-story. But some interesting side notes: Faith has no bitterness about what happened. She told me that a little later she was at the Goodspeed Opera House doing a show and there was a big New York Times feature on Ellen as Audrey. People in the show were trying to hide it from her but Faith was totally at peace about it. She felt that the whole thing was meant to be and would work out for both of them. And Guys and Dolls is what was waiting for her! Faith thinks she wouldn't have gotten Adelaide if she had been known for playing Audrey because the roles are similar. And, on another side note, two of the stars of Guys and Dolls almost worked together before Jerry Zaks cast them. Yes, Faith almost played Audrey and, if Lee Wilkof hadn't played Seymour, the next choice was…Nathan Lane! Faith did wind up playing Audrey during the run and we'll do the famous duet from that show this week in Provincetown! Get tix at www.PtownArtHouse.com.

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