ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: On the Playbill Cruise With Roger Bart and Ana Gasteyer

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07 Apr 2014

Ana Gasteyer

Ana then realized that she and Barbra shared so much. First she reminded the audience that Barbra played Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway, The West End and in the film version. Ana bragged that she did it at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. Same thing. She also pointed out that Barbra permed her hair for "A Star Is Born" and "The Main Event." Ana grew up in humid Washington, D.C. and spent her childhood with a hairstyle that she referred to as "God's perm." Speaking of Funny Girl, I worked with Ana when she got that gig and something happened to us that we still refer to up until today. We did an Obsessed video about it... watch

That night I got to interview Tommy Tune. I have so much respect for him! I asked him about the brilliant number he staged for Grand Hotel called "We'll Take A Glass Together" with the charecters of the Baron and Otto. Tommy first told us about casting the role of Otto, the man who's on the verge of death and wants to spend time at the beautiful grand hotel before he dies. They were having trouble finding someone for the part and Tommy remembered seeing Alice In Wonderland starring Meryl Streep at the Public Theater and loving the guy who played the dormouse. They tracked him down (Michael Jeter) and found out that he was working as a receptionist. Tommy brought him in to audition and Michael was incredibly nervous and told him that he didn't sing. Tommy had him sing "Happy Birthday" while holding his hands (they were shaking), and Michael got the gig.

Tommy told us that he felt like he had to make that song a tap number because that's what the audience expected in one of his shows, but it wasn't working. At the time, his mother was very ill and Tommy would fly to Texas on his day off and visit her. He told her about his trouble with the number and she asked about the time period that it took place. He told her that the show was set in the late 20's and she suggested that he highlight the dance craze from the flapper era. She slowly got out of her sick bed and got up the energy to demonstrate some 1920's moves, which Tommy showed us. And that's why he decided to make the number a Charleston. As for one of the other signature moves in the song; Michael Jeter was joking around in rehearsal and jumped over the bar and Tommy loved it and put that at the end of the number. Watch

Ah! My column is up and I'm only up to Tuesday on the cruise! More in my next column including Christine Pedi's snorkeling craziness, James' irresponsible swimming, shows by Liz Callaway/Judy Kuhn/Lewis Black/Brian Stokes Mitchell... plus details about my "Chatterbox" with Jefferson Mays!

(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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