Seth Rudetsky  

Onstage & Backstage: Learn Why Sarah Jessica Parker Didn't Want to Star in "Sex and the City"!

Learn all the drama behind Sarah Jessica Parker's Broadway debut in this week's look into Seth Rudetsky's life.

And back to P-town I go. First, let me tell you what happened this morning: Our flight from NYC to Boston was delayed, so our airline made some phone calls and switched our 1:14 PM flight from Boston to Provincetown to the next one at 2:38 PM. We took off from Newark and the delay wasn't as bad as predicted and we actually got there with plenty of time to make the 1:14 flight to Ptown! We rushed to the gate, asked to get our seats back for the earlier flight and found out they had already been given away. So, now we get to wait at the airport for an hour and a half. I'm not going to say I was plunged into a depression when I found out, but if you're interested in seeing a Jewish male recreate Angelina Jolie's performance in "Girl Interrupted," come to Gate C27. Anyhoo, I'm going to be productive and use this time to write. Or to glare at the gay male couple sitting across from us with the sour look on their faces who completely don't speak to each other but are obviously judging everyone here. At least, when James and I judge everyone around us, we do it by whispering and giggling.

OK! Let me start from last Monday. I did two sold-out shows at Provincetown's Town Hall with the adorable/hilarious Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. They were both so fun to work with! First, I talked with Sarah about her childhood; In a previous Playbill column I wrote about how she saw a preview of A Chorus Line when she was 10 and became obsessed with that show. She told us that when she went back to Cincinatti, she watched the Tony Awards and every time A Chorus Line would get another award, she would yell, "We won!" After that, she came to NYC to audition for the "Milliken Breakfast Show," which was a gig that everyone wanted in the '70's. It was a big yearly musical extravaganza put on for the Milliken fabric company, directed and choreographed by Broadway folks, starred major celebrites and it paid great money. The children in the cast were called "Millikiddies."

Sarah auditioned and was shocked she made it past the dance call because she was only trained in ballet and didn't really understand show dancing. She sang her signature audition song ("Nothing" from A Chorus Line) and was soon approached by the assistant choreographer who said, "My name is Wayne Cilento, and I play Mike in A Chorus Line." Sarah was thrilled and said, "I know exactly who you are!" She wasn't a true size eight, but he wanted her in the show so he told her he was going to make her the "yardstick" for eight, meaning the other eights would have to match her! She loved doing the show and years later, when she was doing Once Upon A Mattress, she got a present from Jane Krakowski. Turns out, Jane's mom was in the balcony taking photos the day of the audition and she gave Sarah a picture of all the kids during their onstage audition! You can see everyone (including Jane) doing high kicks in a kickline. Sarah then told us you can see her as the one girl with a bent leg, barely getting her leg off the ground.

Sarah Jessica Parker as Annie
Sarah Jessica Parker as Annie

Sarah auditioned to be an orphan inAnnie using the song "Nothing," which then led someone in the cast to tell her that the rumor was she had a very dirty mouth! Sarah actually doesn't curse, but because the song had the word "bullsh*t", she was branded foulmouthed. Luckily, Jackie Hoffman never auditioned to be an orphan. Sarah was cast as July (the orphan who doesn't have much to do, according to her) as well as the Annie understudy. There was the big blizzard of 1978 on her very first performance, and many cast members didn't make it to the show. Sarah was supposed to play July but they suddenly told her she was going to go on for Annie! Again, this was her very first performance! Finally, they decided to hold the curtain to see if Andrea McArdle's train would make it from Philly, and thankfully it did. But they still had to do the show with half the orphans missing. That reminds of the Chorus Line performance my friend James Hadley told me about. The show began, and in the middle of the opening number, Cassie got injured. Her understudy was in the opening number as one of the dancers who get rejected and she was told to stay on and take over as Cassie. She was playing the ballerina...the one who is supposed to be totally out of place at a Broadway audition. Horrifyingly, she had no time to go offstage and change. So, she had to play Cassie, i.e. sexy/fierce dancer/ex-lover of Zach while standing on the line with her hair in a tight bun and wearing horrible ballet flats. Back to Annie. Sarah told us that while she playing an orphan, Sandy Faison (who played Grace) gave her notice. Shelly Bruce, who was Annie, was sick on Sandy's last show, so Sarah went on. It wound up being amazing timing because all the creative team happened to be in the audience to bid Sandy farewell so they wound up seeing Sarah's performance. They thought she was great and that's how she became the third Annie. Also, FYI, she wound up being the oldest Annie (14) when she got the role. It worked because she was super short. But, like most people, she began to grow. In her case, she grew two inches really quickly. She remembers one of the stage managers telling her, not that long after she began, that they were going to start looking for her replacement ASAP. However, he told her to just "put that on the back burner." Yay! It's easy to play a role knowing that you're on the verge of being replaced because your own body is betraying you. I asked her if she was devastated when her run ended, and she said she actually wasn't. Her hair had been dyed red for the show and she told us that she immediately went out and dyed it back to her natural dark brown color. She then looked at the audience, mortified, and said, "I mean...blondish brown." The most amazing part of the show (besides doing a duet of "I Don't Need Anything But You" with her as Annie and me as Daddy Warbucks) was based on Sarah telling me she remembered all the blocking and choreography from the show. There was a big TV onstage and I played the original orphans doing the dance break to "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile." I had Sarah stand in front of the TV and do the entire dance. She knew it all, and the audience went crazy!!! Here's the original number.

We, of course, talked about "Sex and The City," and turns out, she was reluctant to do the pilot because she didn't really want to do a series. However, she loved the script so she filmed it and then forgot about it. Months later she found out the show was picked up and she completely wanted to get out of it. I mean, completely. She really didn't want to be tied down to one job because she loved going from gig to gig and being, what she called, a "journeyman." She tried various ways to get out of it including telling HBO that she would film three projects for free if they'd release her from her contract! Basically, they convinced her to honor her deal, and she now has no regrets. She loved played Carrie Bradshaw and she told us that there may be a project coming up involving all the ladies! I'll tell you who it probably won't involve: me. I auditioned for the first movie and decidedly did not get cast. I'll also tell you, however, whom it might involve: my mother! She auditioned for the film and got a call back. #NotCool

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Well, here we are in Ptown on the back porch of the Anchor Inn, looking at the bay. Literally wearing pants and a jacket. It really does get chilly on the Cape during the summer! Here's my fave recent story: Two weeks ago, when I was here and James was in NYC, he called to tell me there was a baby bird in our backyard. The bird must have fallen from our roof or a high apartment window and the egg was still next to it. He asked me what to do, and I had zero ideas. I thought that if he picked up the bird, the mama bird would totally reject it if it ever got better so he would have to leave it to fend for itself. Even though it was obviously a baby and had no way to fend for itself. I assumed it was going to be one of those horrible the-bird-must-die-because-of-the-beautiful-cycle-of-life stories and went into a complete depression. James realized I was of no use except as an entertainer and called his friend Tiffany who worked at a wildlife reserve in Texas. She told him that people can pick up a bird and it won't be rejected later on by its mother. He then wondered if there was a wildlife rehab anywhere in New York and looked on Google. Turns out, there is one only ten blocks from our apartment. And it was open at 7 PM on a Sunday! The Wild Bird Fund (WildBirdFund.org) is a misnomer because they take any kind of wildlife; squirrels, turtles etc. They are amazing and it doesn't cost anything! Of course, they love donations but you can just bring in an injured animal and get help. They told us that New York City is on a path for lots of migrating birds and many of them get injured hitting buildings. Or people put Tanglefoot on their windowsills to prevent pigeons from landing there, but they use too much and it horribly damages bird legs. This place deals with hawks, pheasants and, of course, what James brought in: –a baby pigeon. They said the bird had hypothermia from being outside for so long and was close to death. James left him there and a few days later they called to tell him the bird is recovering amazingly and they've named him "Baby James!" The wonderful founder, Rita McMahon, came on my SiriusXM radio show last week and brought Baby James! He looks great! Go stop by their Columbus Avenue location and visit. It's a beautiful space and you'll see so much amazing work being done and all different kinds of animals. It's so fantastic!

OK! This week I have a show with Audra McDonald and Will Swenson at Town Hall and then James and I go on a cruise where I'm doing a show with Lindsay Mendez. I have today off and I'm going to try to work on my new young adult novel and/or visit the Fudge Factory candy store numerous times. Speaking of young adult novel, I got such a beautiful letter about my first two novels that made me cry. It makes the (sometimes) headache-y writing process worth it!:

I just wanted to tell you how happy and excited I was when I got your two books from Amazon that I ordered for my son...yeah for my son ; ). I didn't realize that the main character was a gay teenager — I just knew it was written by you so it would be amahhhzing. He read the first book in one day. He is 11 years old and recently told me and my husband that he is gay. It's so wonderful there is a book with a character he can identify so closely with — not just regarding his sexuality but because he is a huge musical theatre geek (like me). He was so excited when he read about the best friend character coming out that he texted me at work. Thank you for bringing such a missing element to literature! I can't what for him to finish them so I can read them!

Feel free to read them yourself! Order here, 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.)