ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Max, Laura and Hilarity at The Ritz

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19 Nov 2007

Laura Osnes, Seth Rudetsky and Max Crumm
Laura Osnes, Seth Rudetsky and Max Crumm

What? The strike is still on? Didn't I specifically ask Local One and the producers to kiss and make up? What part of "start making out" don't you understand?

It's definitely been a hardship on audience members and everyone involved, but the most devastating thing about the strike is that it took place during BC/EFA's audience appeal fundraising period. They lose $40,000 a day! And that money is counted on by AIDS organizations all over the world…soup kitchens, hospices, etc. If you get a chance, go to BCEFA.org and buy something from their holiday catalogue. Their annual CD ("Carols for a Cure") just came out, and it's fabulous: $20 for a two-CD set and tons of Broadway shows are on it. My friend Tim is completely obsessed with the Spring Awakening track, but he's the kind of fanatic who would be obsessed if Spring Awakening came out with a CD of Juice Newton hits. PS, Does she actually have hits (plural)? Wouldn't it have to be a CD with only one track ("Just Call Me Angel of the Morning")?

The big news is I'm finally in a magazine centerfold. That's right, Hall and Oates-style, my baby is a centerfold…and I'm the baby. Genre magazine did a photo shoot with the cast of The Ritz, and they put a shot of me, Terry Riordan, Nick Mayo and Jeffrey Thomas as the centerfold. I'm not nude, but there is an exposed nipple. I don't know if I'm proud of it , mortified or feel in solidarity with Janet Jackson.

This week I interviewed Max Crumm and Laura Osnes, who won "You're the One That I Want" competition and are now playing Danny and Sandy in Grease. I started my career on Playbill.com writing about their TV show, which makes me feel a special connection to them, plus I played piano for the last Grease revival, so I also feel a little like the Sheila to their Maggie. (AKA, jaded hag to their starry-eyed naiveté).

Laura grew up in the Midwest and worked as an understudy in Aladdin, which was playing at the Minneapolis Children's Theater. She and the other understudy went on for the first time when Aladdin and Jasmine had a scene where they're supposed to back into each other and they wound up completely colliding. The two leads had to be taken to the hospital (they really got injured… including the Aladdin completely chipping his tooth) and Laura was so excited to go on because it was a two-show day… and then was outraged when the leads wound up going on that night! How dare they be so professional? But the sparks between the two understudies flew…and now they're married!

She got cast as Sandy in Grease at a Minnesota dinner theater and asked to have a weekend off to audition for "You're the One That I Want." Max was in California and thought it could be fun to audition for the TV show. He wasn't sure if he would or not, but happened to wake up at 6 AM on the morning of the audition, so he figured that since he was up, he would go.

I talked with them about the ludicrous moment when all the contestants were forced to stand and sing in unison and, supposedly based on that performance, producer David Ian would make cuts. How stupid did the TV show producers think we were!? Why would the final decision be made based on how they all sounded singing a cappella? The cuts were obviously made beforehand, and the producers thought it would be a creative way to do them. Laura said that they triple checked that everyone was in their right position before they started because David Ian walked around (wearing a stern expression) and carrying a clipboard that obviously had all the cut people's position on it and they wanted to make sure he wouldn't cut the wrong person. She also said that if you watched it, it looked like forever on the TV show (like seven minutes), but it actually lasted 1,000 times longer when they were filming it.

We discussed that final episode, and Max busted the people on the chat boards who said that Austin didn't care about his mother because he didn't hug her right after he lost. He actually ran past her to do a quick change because he and Ashley were devastatingly forced to be in the ensemble while Max and Laura sang the finale as Danny and Sandy. Can you imagine? "Barbra Streisand, you've lost the Tony award to Carol Channing. Now, take off that gown, put on a frock and dance back up for 'Before the Parade Passes By.'"

This week also had some hilarity at The Ritz. Brooks Ashmanskas has a line near the end of Act Two where he says that he's the Private Eye, Brick. "It's me, Bunny! Brick!" Well, the line he said before that got a really big laugh, and it sort of through him. Unfortunately, it threw him enough for him to then say, "It's me, Bunny! Brooks!" It was an amazing moment to watch because as soon as he said, "Brooks," he realized what he did, and all the color drained from his face. My next line is "Careful, Googie!" which I said and then followed by saying to those around me onstage "Careful, Rosie." I always try to maintain a mix of 90% professionalism, 10% acting out.


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